For many people "animal rights" suggests campaigns against factory farms, vivisection or other aspects of our woeful treatment of animals. Zoopolis moves beyond this familiar terrain, focusing not on what we must stop doing to animals, but on how we can establish positive and just relationships with different types of animals.
Many theorists of the ‘political turn’ in animal rights theory emphasize the need for animals’ interests to be considered in political decision-making processes, but deny that this requires self-representation and participation by animals themselves. I argue that participation by domesticated animals in co-authoring our shared world is indeed required, and explore two ways to proceed: 1) by enabling animal voice within the existing geography of human-animal roles and relationships; and 2) by freeing animals into a revitalized public commons where citizens (...) encounter one another in spontaneous, unpredictable encounters in spaces that they can re-shape together. (shrink)
In December 2013, the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) filed a petition for a common law writ of habeas corpus in the New York State Supreme Court on behalf of Tommy, a chimpanzee living alone in a cage in a shed in rural New York (Barlow, 2017). Under animal welfare laws, Tommy’s owners, the Laverys, were doing nothing illegal by keeping him in those conditions. Nonetheless, the NhRP argued that given the cognitive, social, and emotional capacities of chimpanzees, Tommy’s confinement constituted (...) a profound wrong that demanded remedy by the courts. Soon thereafter, the NhRP filed habeas corpus petitions on behalf of Kiko, another chimpanzee housed alone in Niagara Falls, and Hercules and Leo, two chimpanzees held in research facilities at Stony Brook University. Thus began the legal struggle to move these chimpanzees from captivity to a sanctuary, an effort that has led the NhRP to argue in multiple courts before multiple judges. The central point of contention has been whether Tommy, Kiko, Hercules, and Leo have legal rights. To date, no judge has been willing to issue a writ of habeas corpus on their behalf. Such a ruling would mean that these chimpanzees have rights that confinement might violate. Instead, the judges have argued that chimpanzees cannot be bearers of legal rights because they are not, and cannot be persons. In this book we argue that chimpanzees are persons because they are autonomous. (shrink)
While animal rights have been a central topic within moral philosophy since the 1970s, it has remained virtually invisible within political philosophy. This article explores two key reasons for the difficulties in locating animals within political philosophy. First, even if animals are seen as having intrinsic moral status, they are often seen as ultimately distant others or strangers, beyond the bounds of human society. Insofar as political philosophy focuses on the governing of a shared social life, animals are seen as (...) falling outside its remit. Second, even if animals are recognized as members of society, they are seen as lacking the capacities or competences said to be essential for politics, and for membership in the demos. We challenge both assumptions. Many animals live and work alongside us, within an interspecies society, and all members of society should have the right to shape decisions about how that society is governed. An interspecies society requires interspecies politics. (shrink)
Plusieurs commentateurs – incluant certains théoriciens des droits des animaux – ont soutenu que les animaux non humains ne peuvent pas être considérés comme des membres du dèmos parce qu’il leur manque les capacités critiques d’autonomie et d’agentivité morale qui seraient essentielles à la citoyenneté. Nous soutenons que cette inquiétude est fondée sur des idées erronées à propos de la citoyenneté, d’une part, et à propos des animaux, d’autre part. La citoyenneté requiert la maîtrise de soi et la sensibilité aux (...) normes partagées, mais ces capacités ne devraient pas être comprises en un sens indûment intellectualisé ou idéalisé. Des études récentes sur l’agentivité morale montrent que les relations civilisées entre les citoyens sont largement fondées, non pas dans la réflexion rationnelle et l’assentiment à des propositions morales, mais dans des comportements intuitifs, irréfléchis et habituels qui s’enracinent dans une gamme d’émotions prosociales (l’empathie, l’amour) et de dispositions prosociales (coopération, altruisme, réciprocité, résolution de conflits). Cinquante ans de recherches éthologiques ont démontré que plusieurs animaux sociaux – particulièrement les animaux domestiques – partagent le type de dispositions et de capacités rendant possible le civisme quotidien. Une fois que nous élargissons notre conception de la citoyenneté pour inclure une compréhension plus riche des bases des relations civiques, il devient évident que les animaux domestiques et les humains peuvent être les co-créateurs d’un monde moral et politique commun. Nous n’avons rien à craindre, et beaucoup à gagner, à les accueillir comme membres du dèmos. (shrink)
In their commentaries on Zoopolis, Alasdair Cochrane and Oscar Horta raise several challenges to our argument for a “political theory of animal rights”, and to the specific models of animal citizenship and animal sovereignty we offer. In this reply, we focus on three key issues: 1) the need for a groupdifferentiated theory of animal rights that takes seriously ideas of membership in bounded communities, as against more “cosmopolitan” or “cosmo- cosmopolitan” or “cosmo- cosmopolitan” or “cosmo- ” or “cosmo- or “cosmozoopolis” (...) alternatives that minimize the moral significance of boundaries and membership; 2) the challenge of defining the nature and scope of wild animal sovereignty; and 3) the problem of policing nature and humanitarian intervention to reduce suffering in the wild. (shrink)
In this brief, we argue that there is a diversity of ways in which humans (Homo sapiens) are ‘persons’ and there are no non-arbitrary conceptions of ‘personhood’ that can include all humans and exclude all nonhuman animals. To do so we describe and assess the four most prominent conceptions of ‘personhood’ that can be found in the rulings concerning Kiko and Tommy, with particular focus on the most recent decision, Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc v Lavery.
We submit this brief in support of the Nonhuman Rights Project’s efforts to secure habeas corpus relief for the elephant named Happy. The Supreme Court, Bronx County, declined to grant habeas corpus relief and order Happy’s transfer to an elephant sanctuary, relying, in part, on previous decisions that denied habeas relief for the NhRP’s chimpanzee clients, Kiko and Tommy. Those decisions use incompatible conceptions of ‘person’ which, when properly understood, are either philosophically inadequate or, in fact, compatible with Happy’s personhood.
In this interview, Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka reply to some questions and objections to their book Zoopolis . A distinctive feature of their approach is the idea that domesticated animals should be seen as cocitizens of our political community. Donaldson and Kymlicka discuss how this view of animal citizenship relates to issues regarding the right to vote, the right to political representation, and rights to residence and membership. The authors also explore how their political account of animal rights theory (...) relates to theories of multiculturalism as well as conflicts between individual and group rights. Addressing these issues, they argue, requires attending to the agency of animals themselves, and not just treating them as passive moral patients. (shrink)
In their commentaries on Zoopolis, Nurse, Ryland, and Svärd raise several challenges to our argument for a "political theory of animal rights." They not only object to the specific models of animal citizenship and animal sovereignty we offer, but also express doubt that the categories of political theory can truly shed light on the animal question. In reply, we first clarify the gap in existing animal rights theory that political theory helps to fill. We then address specific concerns regarding the (...) terms of co-citizenship for domesticated animals, the role of the nation-state, and intervention among sovereign animals. (shrink)