About this topic
Summary

Broadly construed, animal rights is an area of inquiry and debate that focuses on a variety of approaches to assessing the moral status of nonhuman animals. One of the main approaches in contemporary scholarship is deontological and argues for strict rights for animals on the grounds that they are subjects-of-a-life (Tom Regan) and thus possess inherent worth; such views often seek to expand Kant's ascription of inherent worth to rational agents so that it applies to all sentient beings. Other views, including those of some secular naturalists, seek to ascribe rights to animals not on the basis of inherent worth but on the basis of capacities shared by all sentient beings. Another main approach encompasses a variety of views that tend to be "welfarist" in the sense that they do not seek to ascribe strict right to animals but instead argue that certain actions performed against animals (such as killing them or using them as sources of milk or eggs) are permissible as long as human beings perform them in a humane manner. Welfarist views are generally utilitarian in character, being based on calculations of the quantity of harm that can be done to a given living being, and they tend to assert hierarchies in which beings that are cognitively more sophisticated can be harmed in ways in which beings that are cognitively less sophisticated cannot; on the basis of such hierarchization, welfarist views typically ascribe moral superiority to human beings over nonhuman animals, although they also tend to avoid a speciesistic privileging of all human beings over all nonhuman animals on the grounds that some nonhuman animals are cognitively superior to some human beings. Thus thinkers such as Peter Singer argue that self-conscious beings have a stronger claim to life than non-self-conscious beings, where self-conscious beings are defined as those that can conceptualize the past, present, and future of their lives as one coherent whole. (Summary written by Gary Steiner and Erwin Lengauer)

Key works

Armstrong, Susan /  Botzler, Richard (ed.) ²2008. The Animal Ethics Reader - (AER). 2nd Edition. London; New York, NY, Routledge.

Beauchamp, Tom L. / Frey, Raymond G. (eds.) 2011. The Oxford Handbook of Animal Ethics. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Bekoff, Marc (ed.) 2010. Encyclopedia of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare. 2 Volume Set. Santa Barbara, CA, Greenwood Press, Imprint of ABC - Clio.

Cavalieri, Paola 2001. The Animal Question: Why Non-Human Animals Deserve Human Rights. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Chapouthier, Georges (ed.) 1998. The Universal Declaration of Animal Rights: Comments and Intentions. Paris, Ligue Francaise des Droit de l´Animal.

DeGrazia, David (1996). Taking Animals Seriously. Mental Life and Moral Status. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Dombrowski, Daniel A. 1997. Babies and Beasts: The Argument from Marginal Cases. Urbana, IL, University of Illinois Press.

Francione, Gary  2008. Animals as Persons: Essays on the Abolition of Animal Exploitation. New York, NY, Columbia University Press.

Garner, Robert 2005. The Political Theory of Animal Rights (Perspectives on Democratization). Manchester, Manchester University Press.

Kalof, Linda / Fitzgerald, Amy (eds.). 2007. The Animals Reader: The Essential Classic and Contemporary Writings. Oxford, Berg.  

Munro, Lyle 2005. Confronting Cruelty. Moral Orthodoxy and the Challenge of the Animal Rights Movement. Human-Animal Studies.  (Dissertation). Leiden, Brill Academic.     

Palmer, Clare (ed.) 2008. Animal Rights. Clare Palmer. Series: The International Library of Essays on Rights. Aldershot, GB, Ashgate Publishing Company.

Pluhar, Evelyn 1995. Beyond Prejudice. The Moral Significance of Human and Nonhuman Animals. Durham, NC, Duke University Press.

Regan, Tom 1983. The Case for Animal Rights. Berkeley, CA, University of California Press.

Rollin, Bernard  ²1992. Animal Rights and Human Morality. Amherst, Prometheus.

Rowlands, Mark ²2009. Animal Rights. Moral Theory and Practice. London, Macmillan Press.

Sapontzis, Steve F. 1987, ²1992. Morals, Reason and Animals. Philadelphia, PA, Temple University Press.

Singer, Peter 1975, ²1990. Animal Liberation. A New Ethics for our Treatment of Animals. New York, NY, New York Review of Book.

Singer, Peter (ed.) 2006. In Defense of Animals. The Second Wave. Malden, Blackwell.

Steiner, Gary 2008. Animals and the Moral Community: Mental Life, Moral Status, and Kinship. New York, NY, Columbia University Press.

Steiner, Gary. 2013. Animals and the Limits of Postmodernism. New York: Columbia University Press.

Introductions

Beauchamp, Tom L. 2011. Rights Theory and Animal Rights. In. Beauchamp, Tom L. / Frey, Raymond G. (eds.). The Oxford Handbook of Animal Ethics. Oxford, Oxford University Press: 198-227.

DeGrazia, David 2002. Animal Rights: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Gruen, Lori 2010. The Moral Status of Animals. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2010 Edition), URL = http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2010/entries/moral-animal  

Regan, Tom 2001. Animals, treatment of. In: Becker, Lawrence (ed.). Encyclopedia of Ethics. New York, Routledge: 70-74 (on page 72 about Inherentism)

Regan, Tom ³2004. Animal Welfare and Rights. In:  Post, Stephen (ed.). Encyclopedia of Bioethics. 3. edition. New York, NY, Macmillan. E-Book Version

Wilson, Scott 2010. Animals and Ethics In: Fieser, James (ed.). Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Martin, TN, The University of Tennessee at Martin. –

Wise, Steve M. 2011. animal rights. Encyclopaedia Britannica: Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/25760/animal-rights 

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  1. Elisa Aaltola (2012). Animal Suffering: Philosophy and Culture. Palgrave Macmillan.
    Animal Suffering: Philosophy and Culture explores the multifaceted moral meanings allocated to non-human suffering in contemporary Western culture.
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  2. Elisa Aaltola (2010). Animal Minds, Skepticism and the Affective Stance. Teorema (2):69-82.
    External descriptions, which approach animals via external mechanisms rather than internal mental states, have gained a prominent position. However, according to strong objectivism, attention needs to be placed on the presumptions that lay behind given beliefs. When applied to the topic of animal minds, it reveals that perhaps inter-nal rather than external descriptions would offer a fruitful option. This claim is sup-ported by the Wittgensteinian criticism of skepticism, which seeks to avoid “deflection” and brings forward an “affective stance”. Still, in (...)
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  3. Elisa Aaltola (2005). Animal Ethics and Interest Conflicts. Ethics and the Environment 10 (1):19-48.
    : Animal ethics has presented convincing arguments for the individual value of animals. Animals are not only valuable instrumentally or indirectly, but in themselves. Less has been written about interest conflicts between humans and other animals, and the use of animals in practice. The motive of this paper is to analyze different approaches to interest conflicts. It concentrates on six models, which are the rights model, the interest model, the mental complexity model, the special relations model, the multi-criteria model, and (...)
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  4. Judith Andre (1987). Rights, Killing, and Suffering. Philosophical Studies 31:521-522.
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  5. Jonny Anomaly (2014). What's Wrong with Factory Farming? Public Health Ethics 7:phu001.
    Factory farming continues to grow around the world as a low cost way of producing animal products for human consumption. But many of the practices associated with intensive animal farming have been criticized by public health professionals and animal welfare advocates. The aim of this essay is to raise three independent moral concerns with factory farming, and to explain why these practices flourish despite the cruelty inflicted on animals and the public health risks imposed on people. I conclude that the (...)
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  6. Susan J. Armstrong & Richard George Botzler (eds.) (2008). The Animal Ethics Reader. Routledge.
    The Animal Ethics Reader is the first comprehensive, state-of-the-art anthology of readings on this substantial area of study and interest. A subject that regularly captures the headlines, the book is designed to appeal to anyone interested in tracing the history of the subject, as well as providing a powerful insight into the debate as it has developed. The recent wealth of material published in this area has not, until now, been collected in one volume. Readings are arranged thematically, carefully presenting (...)
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  7. Wendy Atkins-Sayre (2010). Protection From Animal Rights Lunatics : The Center for Consumer Freedom and Animal Rights Rhetoric. In Greg Goodale & Jason Edward Black (eds.), Arguments About Animal Ethics. Lexington Books.
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  8. Tongdong Bai (2009). The Price of Serving Meat—on Confucius's and Mencius's Views of Human and Animal Rights. Asian Philosophy 19 (1):85 – 99.
    The apparent conflict between some fundamental ideas of Confucianism and of rights seems to render Confucianism incompatible with rights. I will illustrate the general strategies, based upon an insight of the later Rawls, to solve the incompatibility problem. I will then show how these strategies can help us to develop a Confucian account of animal rights, which, by way of example, demonstrates how Confucianism can endorse and develop unique and constructive accounts of most rights that are commonly recognized today.
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  9. Christiane Bailey (2013). Zoopolis. A Political Renewal of Animal Rights Theories. Dialogue:1-13.
    Book Panel on Zoopolis including articles by Clare Palmer, Dinesh Wadiwel and Laura Janara and a reply by Donaldson and Kymlicka.
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  10. Christiane Bailey & Chloë Taylor (2013). Editor's Introduction. Phaenex. Journal of Existential and Phenomenological Theory and Culture 8 (2):i-xv.
    Christiane Bailey and Chloë Taylor (Editorial Introduction) Sue Donaldson (Stirring the Pot - A short play in six scenes) Ralph Acampora (La diversification de la recherche en éthique animale et en études animales) Eva Giraud (Veganism as Affirmative Biopolitics: Moving Towards a Posthumanist Ethics?) Leonard Lawlor (The Flipside of Violence, or Beyond the Thought of Good Enough) Kelly Struthers Montford (The “Present Referent”: Nonhuman Animal Sacrifice and the Constitution of Dominant Albertan Identity) James Stanescu (Beyond Biopolitics: Animal Studies, Factory Farms, (...)
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  11. Miles Barton (1987). Animal Rights. Gloucester Press.
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  12. Tom L. Beauchamp (1997). Opposing Views on Animal Experimentation: Do Animals Have Rights? Ethics and Behavior 7 (2):113 – 121.
    Animals have moral standing; that is, they have properties (including the ability to feel pain) that qualify them for the protections of morality. It follows from this that humans have moral obligations toward animals, and because rights are logically correlative to obligations, animals have rights.
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  13. Marc Bekoff (1997). Deep Ethology, Animal Rights, and the Great Ape/Animal Project: Resisting Speciesism and Expanding the Community of Equals. [REVIEW] Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 10 (3):269-296.
    In this essay I argue that the evolutionary and comparative study of nonhuman animal (hereafter animal) cognition in a wide range of taxa by cognitive ethologists can readily inform discussions about animal protection and animal rights. However, while it is clear that there is a link between animal cognitive abilities and animal pain and suffering, I agree with Jeremy Bentham who claimed long ago the real question does not deal with whether individuals can think or reason but rather with whether (...)
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  14. Marc Bekoff & Carron A. Meaney (eds.) (1998). Encyclopedia of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare. Greenwood Press.
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  15. Chris Belshaw (2002). Review of Paola Cavalieri, The Animal Question: Why Non-Human Animals Deserve Human Rights. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2002 (12).
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  16. John Benson (1978). Animal Rights and Human Obligations Edited by Tom Regan and Peter Singer Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1976, Vi + 250 Pp. [REVIEW] Philosophy 53 (206):576-.
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  17. Donato Bergandi (ed.) (2013). The Structural Links Between Ecology, Evolution and Ethics: The Virtuous Epistemic Circle. Springer.
    Abstract - Evolutionary, ecological and ethical studies are, at the same time, specific scientific disciplines and, from an historical point of view, structurally linked domains of research. In a context of environmental crisis, the need is increasingly emerging for a connecting epistemological framework able to express a common or convergent tendency of thought and practice aimed at building, among other things, an environmental policy management respectful of the planet’s biodiversity and its evolutionary potential. -/- Evolutionary biology, ecology and ethics: at (...)
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  18. Brian Berkey (2014). Review of Robert Garner, A Theory of Justice for Animals: Animal Rights in a Nonideal World. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.
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  19. J. Bernstein (1996). Animal Rights V Animal Research: A Modest Proposal. Journal of Medical Ethics 22 (5):300-303.
    The practical problem of assuaging the opponents of animal research may be solved without formally addressing (or resolving) the underlying ethical questions of the debate. Specifically, a peaceful boycott of the "fruits" of animal research may lead to a wider cessation of such research, than, say, vocal or even violent protest. To assist those who might wish to participate in such a boycott- and, moreover, to critically inform them of the implications of their actions-1 offer a modest proposal: the use (...)
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  20. Lisa Bortolotti (2010). Can the Subject-of-a-Life Criterion Help Grant Rights to Non-Persons? In Matti Häyry (ed.), Arguments and Analysis in Bioethics. Rodopi.
    In this paper I compare different criteria for moral status, and assess Regan's notion of a "subject of a life".
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  21. Lisa Bortolotti (2007). Disputes Over Moral Status: Philosophy and Science in the Future of Bioethics. [REVIEW] Health Care Analysis 15 (2):153-8.
    Various debates in bioethics have been focused on whether non-persons, such as marginal humans or non-human animals, deserve respectful treatment. It has been argued that, where we cannot agree on whether these individuals have moral status, we might agree that they have symbolic value and ascribe to them moral value in virtue of their symbolic significance. In the paper I resist the suggestion that symbolic value is relevant to ethical disputes in which the respect for individuals with no intrinsic moral (...)
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  22. Lisa Bortolotti (2006). Moral Rights and Human Culture. Ethical Perspectives 13 (4):603-620.
    In this paper I argue that there is no moral justification for the conviction that rights should be reserved to humans. In particular, I reject James Griffin’s view on the moral relevance of the cultural dimension of humanity. Drawing from the original notion of individual right introduced in the Middle Ages and the development of this notion in the eighteenth century, I emphasise that the practice of according rights is justified by the interest in safeguarding the powers of reason and (...)
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  23. S. S. C. Bostock (2000). Mark Rowlands Animal Rights: A Philosophical Defence. Journal of Applied Philosophy 17 (2):227-228.
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  24. Stephen St C. Bostock (1993). Zoos and Animal Rights: The Ethics of Keeping Animals. Routledge.
    Zoos and animal rights seem utterly opposed to each other. In this controversial and timely book, Stephen Bostock argues that they can develop a more harmonious relationship. He examines the diverse ethical and technical issues involved, including human cruelty, human domination over animals, the well-being of wild animals outside their natural habitat, and the nature of wild and domestic animals. In his analysis, Bostock draws attention to the areas which give rise to misconceptions. This book explores the long history of (...)
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  25. K. M. Boyd (1995). Animal Rights and Human Morality. Journal of Medical Ethics 21 (1):62-62.
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  26. Florence Burgat (1998). Animal Rights and Jus Naturale. In Georges Chapouthier & Jean-Claude Nouët (eds.), The Universal Declaration of Animal Rights: Comments and Intentions. Ligue Française des Droits De L'animal.
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  27. H. Sterling Burnett (1996). Going Wild: Hunting, Animal Rights, and the Contested Meaning of Nature. Environmental Ethics 18 (1):105-109.
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  28. J. Baird Callicott (1985). The Case for Animal Rights. Environmental Ethics 7 (4):365-372.
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  29. Alan Carter (1995). Animal Rights and Social Relations. Res Publica 1 (2):213-220.
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  30. Paola Cavalieri (2005). Rights for Whales? The Philosophers' Magazine 31 (31):22-28.
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  31. Geogres Chapouthier (1998). Animal Rights in Relation to Human Rights, a New Moral Viewpoint. In Georges Chapouthier & Jean-Claude Nouët (eds.), The Universal Declaration of Animal Rights: Comments and Intentions. Ligue Française des Droits De L'animal.
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  32. Georges Chapouthier & Jean-Claude Nouët (eds.) (1998). The Universal Declaration of Animal Rights: Comments and Intentions. Ligue Française des Droits De L'Animal.
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  33. Stephen R. L. Clark (1987). Animal Rights. The Classical Review 37 (02):224-.
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  34. Stephen R. L. Clark (1987). Animal Rights Daniel A. Dombrowski: The Philosophy of Vegetarianism. Pp. Iv+188. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1984. $20.00 (Paper, 9.95). [REVIEW] The Classical Review 37 (02):224-225.
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  35. Stephen R. L. Clark (1983). Animal Rights and Human Morality. Environmental Ethics 5 (2):185-188.
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  36. Stephen R. L. Clark (1979). The Rights of Wild Things. Inquiry 22 (1-4):171 – 188.
    It has been argued that if non-human animals had rights we should be obliged to defend them against predators. I contend that this either does not follow, follows in the abstract but not in practice, or is not absurd. We should defend non-humans against large or unusual dangers, when we can, but should not claim so much authority as to regulate all the relationships of wild things. Some non-human animals are members of our society, and the rhetoric of 'the land (...)
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  37. John B. Cobb Jr (1989). Daniel A. Dombrowski: Hartshorne and the Metaphysics of Animal Rights. Environmental Ethics 11 (4):373-376.
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  38. John B. Cobb Jr (1980). Animal Rights: A Christian Assessment of Man's Treatment of Animals. Environmental Ethics 2 (1):89-93.
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  39. Alasdair Cochrane (2007). Animal Rights and Animal Experiments: An Interest-Based Approach. Res Publica 13 (3):293-318.
    This paper examines whether non-human animals have a moral right not to be experimented upon. It adopts a Razian conception of rights, whereby an individual possesses a right if an interest of that individual is sufficient to impose a duty on another. To ascertain whether animals have a right not to be experimented on, three interests are examined which might found such a right: the interest in not suffering, the interest in staying alive, and the interest in being free. It (...)
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  40. Carl Cohen (1997). Do Animals Have Rights? Ethics and Behavior 7 (2):91 – 102.
    A right, unlike an interest, is a valid claim, or potential claim, made by a moral agent, under principles that govern both the claimant and the target of the claim. Animals cannot be the bearers of rights because the concept of rights is essentially human; it is rooted in and has force within a human moral world.
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  41. Stephen Cooke (forthcoming). Perpetual Strangers: Animals and the Cosmopolitan Right. Political Studies.
    In this article I propose a cosmopolitan approach to animal rights based upon Kant's right of universal hospitality. Many approaches to animal rights buttress their arguments by finding similarities between humans and non-human animals; in this way they represent or resemble ethics of partiality. In this article I propose an approach to animal rights that initially rejects similarity approaches and is instead based upon the adoption of a cosmopolitan mindset acknowledging and respecting difference. Furthermore, and in agreement with Martha Nussbaum, (...)
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  42. Stephen Cooke (2012). Animal Rights and Environmental Terrorism. Journal of Terrorism Research 4 (2):26-36.
    Many paradigmatic forms of animal rights and environmental activism have been classed as terrorism both in popular discourse and in law. This paper argues that the labelling of many violent forms of direct action carried out in the name of animal rights or environmentalism as ‘terrorism’ is incorrect. Furthermore, the claim is also made that even those acts which are correctly termed as terrorism are not necessarily wrongful acts. The result of this analysis is to call into question the terms (...)
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  43. Drucilla Cornell (1997). Review Essay : Defining Personhood: Gary L. Francione, Animals, Property, and the Law (Philadelphia, Pa: Temple University Press, 1995) and Gary L. Francione, Rain Without Thunder: The Ideology of the Animal Rights Movement (Philadelphia, Pa: Temple University Press, 1996. Philosophy and Social Criticism 23 (3):109-114.
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  44. John F. Crosby (1986). Response to Dr. Gallup on Animal Rights. Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology 6 (2):113-113.
  45. Richard Dawkins (1993). Gaps in the Mind. In Peter Singer & Paola Cavalieri (eds.), The Great Ape Project. St. Martin's Griffin. 80--87.
    You appeal for money to save the gorillas. Very laudable, no doubt. But it doesn't seem to have occurred to you that there are thousands of human children suffering on the very same continent of Africa. There'll be time enough to worry about gorillas when we've taken care of every last one of the kiddies. Let's get our priorities right, please!
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  46. David DeGrazia (2003). Carl Cohen and Tom Regan, The Animal Rights Debate:The Animal Rights Debate. Ethics 113 (3):692-695.
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  47. David DeGrazia (2002). Animal Rights: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press.
    This volume provides a general overview of the basic ethical and philosophical issues of animal rights. It asks questions such as: Do animals have moral rights? If so, what does this mean? What sorts of mental lives do animals have, and how should we understand welfare? By presenting models for understanding animals' moral status and rights, and examining their mental lives and welfare, David DeGrazia explores the implications for how we should treat animals in connection with our diet, zoos, and (...)
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  48. Aysel Dog˘an (2011). A Defense of Animal Rights. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 24 (5):473-491.
    I argue that animals have rights in the sense of having valid claims, which might turn out to be actual rights as society advances and new scientific-technological developments facilitate finding alternative ways of satisfying our vital interests without using animals. Animals have a right to life, to liberty in the sense of freedom of movement and communication, to subsistence, to relief from suffering, and to security against attacks on their physical existence. Animals’ interest in living, freedom, subsistence, and security are (...)
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  49. Josephine Donovan & Carol J. Adams (eds.) (1996). Beyond Animal Rights: A Feminist Caring Ethic for the Treatment of Animals. Continuum.
  50. Nigel Dower (ed.) (1989). Ethics and the Environment.
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