Animals Unmodified: Defining Animals/Defining Human Obligations to Animals
94 Pages Posted: 15 May 2006
This article argues that preoccupation with legal definitions of animals inscribes the property status of animals and enables exploiters of animals to keep the focus of animal advocacy on whether animals are worthy of increased protection. Animals' advocates themselves keep the focus on animals in order to make use of the argument that justice requires that like entities should be treated alike. However, as other social justice activists have discovered, that justice argument maintains a hierarchy of worthiness of access to justice, requires assimilation once newcomers have joined the circle of rights-holders, and forestalls development of the argument that justice requires tolerance for and accommodation of diversity. Taking cues from Catharine A. MacKinnon's Feminism Unmodified, this article proposes that defining animals as a means of determining their worthiness to receive just treatment should be replaced with a focus on those who abuse and exploit animals. In order to do that, one must, as philosophers such as Mary Midgley have argued, challenge even more aspects of the justice model than a foundation principle of like entities being treated alike. The contract basis for justice and rights and the presumed necessity of a reciprocal relationship between rights and duties must also be challenged.
Keywords: Animal advocacy
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation