Interspecies justice: agency, self-determination, and assent

Philosophical Studies 178 (4):1223-1243 (2020)
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Abstract

In this article, we develop and defend an account of the normative significance of nonhuman animal agency. In particular, we examine how animals’ agency interests impact upon the moral permissibility of our interactions with them. First, we defend the claim that nonhuman animals sometimes have rights to self-determination. However, unlike typical adult humans, nonhuman animals cannot exercise this right through the giving or withholding of consent. This combination of claims generates a puzzle about the permissibility of our interactions with nonhuman animals. If animals sometimes have rights to self-determination, but lack the capacity to consent, then when, if ever, is it permissible for us to touch them, hold them, bathe them, or confine them? In the second half of the article, we develop a solution to this puzzle. We argue that while we cannot obtain animals’ consent, they can engage in authoritative communications of will through acts of “assent” and “dissent.”

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Author Profiles

Angie Pepper
University of Roehampton
Richard Healey
London School of Economics

Citations of this work

Relational nonhuman personhood.Nicolas Delon - 2023 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 61 (4):569-587.
Political Agency in Humans and Other Animals.Angie Pepper - 2021 - Contemporary Political Theory 20 (2):296-317.
Glass Panels and Peepholes: Nonhuman Animals and the Right to Privacy.Angie Pepper - 2020 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 101 (4):628-650.

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References found in this work

Principles of biomedical ethics.Tom L. Beauchamp - 1979 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by James F. Childress.
The Case for Animal Rights.Tom Regan - 2004 - Univ of California Press.
The case for animal rights.Tom Regan - 2009 - In Steven M. Cahn (ed.), Exploring ethics: an introductory anthology. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 425-434.
The Morality of Freedom.Joseph Raz - 1986 - Philosophy 63 (243):119-122.

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