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 Ethics and the Argument From Absurdity. Environmental Values 19 (1):79-98.
    Arguments for the inherent value, equality of interests,or rights of non-human animals have presented a strong challenge for the anthropocentric worldview. However, they have been met with criticism.One form of criticism maintains that,regardless of their theoretical consistency,these 'pro-animal arguments' cannot be accepted due to their absurdity. Often, particularly inter-species interest conflicts are brought to the fore: if pro-animal arguments were followed,we could not solve interest conflicts between species,which is absurd. Because of this absurdity, the arguments need to be abandoned. The (...)
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  3. Elisa Aaltola (2009). Philosophy and Animal Studies: Calarco, Castricano, and Diamond. Society and Animals 17 (3):279-286.
    Recently, animal studies has started to gain popularity. This interdisciplinary field investigates the human-animal relationship from different perspectives, including philosophy, cultural studies, and biology. In 2008, at least three books explored themes related to animal studies: Matthew Calarco, Zoographies: The Question of the Animal; Jodey Castricano , Animal Subjects: An Ethics Reader in a Posthuman World; and Cora Diamond, Cary Wolfe, et al. Philosophy and Animal Life. Each volume approaches animal studies from a different viewpoint , but they also share (...)
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  4. 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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  5. Ruth Abbey (2013). Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka , Zoopolis: A Political Theory of Animal Rights . Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 33 (6):446-448.
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  6. Carol Adams, Aaron Bell, Ted Benton, Susan Benston, Carl Boggs, Karen Davis, Josephine Donovan, Christina Gerhardt, Victoria Johnson, Renzo Llorente, Eduardo Mendieta, John Sorenson, Dennis Soron, Vasile Stanescu & Zipporah Weisberg (2011). Critical Theory and Animal Liberation. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
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  7. Ronald J. Adams (2008). Fast Food and Animal Rights: An Examination and Assessment of the Industry's Response to Social Pressure. Business and Society Review 113 (3):301-328.
    ABSTRACTFast food chains such as McDonald's, KFC, and Burger King are major players in the production, marketing, and consumption of animal‐derived food throughout the world. Animal rights activists are quick to point out the link between the highly efficient factory farms that supply these chains and extreme animal cruelty and environmental degradation. Strategically, fast food is well positioned to leverage change in the methods by which animals are raised and processed for human consumption. Although progress has been made as the (...)
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  8. Cassandra Aebersold, Luke Galen, Victoria Stanton & Jamie DeLeeuw (2007). Support for Animal Rights as a Function of Belief in Evolution, Religious Fundamentalism, and Religious Denomination. Society and Animals 15 (4):353-363.
    The present study examined the relationship among religious denomination, fundamentalism, belief about human origins, gender, and support for animal rights. Eighty-two college undergraduates filled out a set of 3 questionnaires: The Religious Fundamentalism Scale , beliefs about human origins , and the Animal Rights Scale . Because conservative Protestants and fundamentalists adhere to religious doctrine that espouses a discontinuity between humans and other species, the study predicted they would have lower support for animal rights. Further, proponents of evolution—who tend to (...)
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  9. William Aiken (1992). Human Rights in an Ecological Era. Environmental Values 1 (3):191 - 203.
    After presenting a brief history of the idea of a human right to an adequate environment as it has evolved in the United Nations documents, I assess this approach to our moral responsibility with regard to the environment. I argue that although this rights approach has some substantial weaknesses, these are outweighed by such clear advantages as its action-guiding nature and its political potency.
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  10. Mikel Torres Aldave (2009). Capacidades y derechos de los animales: argumentos a favor de la teoría de M.C. Nussbaum. Dilemata 1 (1).
    Many publications in the field of animal ethics consider the theories of Peter Singer and Tom Regan as the main arguments for the direct moral consideration of non human animals. This paper argues that both those theories have to face serious problems that make them difficult to accept and to apply, and proposes instead an alternative based on the recent work of M. C. Nussbaum. She has drafted a theory in favor of the direct moral consideration of non human animals, (...)
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  11. Michael Allen Fox (2005). Julian H. Franklin, Animal Rights and Moral Philosophy Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 25 (6):408-412.
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  12. A. T. Anchustegui (2005). Biocentric Ethics and Animal Prosperity. International Journal of Applied Philosophy 19 (1):105-119.
    Singer’s utilitarian and Regan’s deontological views must be rejected because: (1) they rely on criteria for moral standing that can only be known a priori and (2) if these criteria were successful, they’d be too restrictive. I hold that while mental properties may be sufficient for moral standing, they are not necessary. (3) Their criteria of moral standing do not unambiguously abrogate needless harm to animals. I defend a theory of biocentric individualism that upholds the principle of species egalitarianism while (...)
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  13. Elizabeth Anderson (2004). Animal Rights and the Values of Nonhuman Life. In Cass R. Sunstein & Martha Craven Nussbaum (eds.), Animal Rights: Current Debates and New Directions. Oxford University Press. 277.
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  14. Judith Andre (1987). Rights, Killing, and Suffering. Philosophical Studies 31:521-522.
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  15. Jonny Anomaly (2015). What's Wrong with Factory Farming? Public Health Ethics 8 (1):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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  16. Arnold Arluke, Randy Frost, Gail Steketee, Gary Patronek, Carter Luke, Edward Messner, Jane Nathanson & Michelle Papazian (2002). Press Reports of Animal Hoarding. Society and Animals 10 (2):113-135.
    This article explores how the press reports nonhuman animal hoarding and hoarders. It discusses how 100 articles from 1995 to the present were content analyzed. Analysis revealed five emotional themes that include drama, revulsion, sympathy, indignation, and humor. While these themes draw readers' attention and make disparate facts behind cases understandable by packaging them in familiar formats, they also present an inconsistent picture of animal hoarding that can confuse readers about the nature and significance of this behavior as well as (...)
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  17. 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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  18. Susan Armstrong & Richard G. Botzler (eds.) (2003). 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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  19. Loka Ashwood (2012). Daniel Imhoff (Ed): The CAFO Reader: The Tragedy of Industrial Animal Factories. [REVIEW] Agriculture and Human Values 29 (3):427-428.
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  20. 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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  21. Elizabeth Atwood Lawrence (1994). Conflicting Ideologies: Views of Animal Rights Advocates and Their Opponents. Society and Animals 2 (2):175-190.
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  22. Ingrid Auriol (2001). Situation de l'animal et statut de l'animalité. Heidegger Studies 17:135-153.
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  23. Mahfouz Azzam (2006). Islamic Philosophy on Animal Rights. In Jacky Turner & Joyce D'Silva (eds.), Animals, Ethics, and Trade: The Challenge of Animal Sentience. Earthscan. 129.
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  24. 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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  25. 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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  26. Patricia Baird (1997). Individual Interests, Societal Interests, and Reproductive Technologies. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 40 (3).
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  27. Sarah A. Balcom (2000). Legislating a Solution to Animal Shelter Euthanasia: A Case Study of California's Controversial SB 1785. Society and Animals 8 (1):129-150.
    On September 22, 1998, California Governor Pete Wilson signed Senate Bill 1785 into law, dramatically affecting the entire California animal sheltering community. Dubbed the "Hayden law" by the animal protection community after the bill's sponsor, it represents the state of California's attempt to legislate a solution to both the companion animal overpopulation problem and the friction between the agencies trying to end it. The persistence of the bill's primary supporters, a Los Angeles veterinarian and a UCLA law school professor and (...)
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  28. Heike Baranzke (2004). Does Beast Suffering Count for Kant: A Contextual Examination of § 17 in The Doctrine of Virtue. Essays in Philosophy 5 (2):4.
    Ever since Schopenhauer ́s accusation, it has been disputed whether Kant ́s few remarks concerning the ethical human-animal-relationship in the Lectures and in the Doctrine of Virtue fail to support ethical arguments on behalf of animals. One critique that plays a central role is whether Kant would have forbidden cruelty to brutes for educational purposes. In addition to these old objections, Kant ́s ethics is charged to be speciesistic by animal ethicists and animal rights philosophers at present.The following article examines (...)
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  29. Miles Barton (1987). Animal Rights. Gloucester Press.
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  30. Tanya Basok (2010). Opening a Dialogue on Migrant (Rights) Activism. Studies in Social Justice 4 (2):97-100.
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  31. 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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  32. 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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  33. Marc Bekoff (1981). Man's Treatment of Animals Returning to Eden: Animal Rights and Human Responsibility Michael W. Fox. BioScience 31 (7):533-533.
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  34. Marc Bekoff & Carron A. Meaney (eds.) (1998). Encyclopedia of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare. Greenwood Press.
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  35. 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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  36. 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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  37. 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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  38. Iñigo de Miguel Beriain (2009). ¿Derechos para los animales? Dilemata 1 (1).
    The discussion about the animal rights is becoming nowadays one of the most important ones in the fields of philosophy or laws. Authors such us Singer, Regan, or, in the Latin countries, Riechmann, de Lora, Horta or Mostrerin talk about our moral duty to recognize to some animals the same rights we recognize to the human beings. The Great Ape Project has been even discussed in some of our Parliaments. However, “traditional” philosophers and lawyers do not seem to have in (...)
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  39. 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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  40. 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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  41. Lynda Birke (2002). Introduction to "Animal Issues". Society and Animals 10 (2):193-194.
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  42. Lynda Birke & Mike Michael (1998). The Heart of the Matter: Animal Bodies, Ethics, and Species Boundaries. Society and Animals 6 (3):245-261.
    This article addresses some of the ways in which the development of xenotransplantation, the use of nonhuman animals as organ donors, are presented in media accounts. Although xenotransplantation raises many ethical and philosophical questions, media coverage typically minimizes these. At issue are widespread public concerns about the transgression of species boundaries, particularly those between humans and other animals. We consider how these are constructed in media narratives, and how those narratives, in turn, rely on particular scientific discourses that posit species (...)
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  43. Sara Martín Blanco (2013). ¿Trato o uso? El fin de la explotación animal. Dilemata 13:259-264.
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  44. Gary Block (2003). The Moral Reasoning of Believers in Animal Rights. Society and Animals 11 (2):167-180.
    This study evaluated the moral reasoning of 54 individuals who believed in the concept of nonhuman animal rights using a research tool based on Kohlberg's cognitive theory of moral development. Results for these primarily college and postgraduate-educated individuals suggest that people who believe in animal rights have equivalent or higher-level moral reasoning when compared to adult, education-matched, historical control groups.
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  45. Paula Boddington (1992). Against Liberation: Putting Animals in Perspective. Philosophical Books 33 (3):176-178.
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  46. Colleen Glenney Boggs (2013). Animalia Americana: Animal Representations and Biopolitical Subjectivity. Columbia University Press.
    Colleen Glenney Boggs puts animal representation at the center of the making of the liberal American subject.
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  47. 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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  48. 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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  49. 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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  50. S. S. C. Bostock (2000). Mark Rowlands Animal Rights: A Philosophical Defence. Journal of Applied Philosophy 17 (2):227-228.
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