Standing Upright: The Moral and Legal Standing of Humans and Other Apes

42 Pages Posted: 14 Mar 2005


The law typically treats great apes and other non-humans as property and not as persons. This is so, even though great apes have cognitive abilities that exceed those of some mentally-deficient humans. Nevertheless, these humans are entitled to the full range of personhood rights, while apes are entitled to none of them. Without attempting to resolve this discrepancy, I suggest more modestly that those rights we do extend to apes under the Animal Welfare Act might be more easily safeguarded if we were to extend legal standing to apes, allowing suit to be brought on their behalf by human guardians. Doing so would not require us to view apes as persons but would provide increased protections for these surprisingly intelligent creatures.

Keywords: Animal Rights, Standing, Apes, Peter Singer, Sentience

Suggested Citation

Kolber, Adam Jason, Standing Upright: The Moral and Legal Standing of Humans and Other Apes. Stanford Law Review, Vol. 54, p. 163, 2001, Available at SSRN:

Adam Jason Kolber (Contact Author)

Brooklyn Law School ( email )

250 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
United States

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