A dubious grail: Seeking tort law expansion and limited personhood as stepping stones toward abolishing animals' property status
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Some grails are sought one piece at a time. The holy grail for many animal rights activists is abolishing animals' property status. This is an ambition befitting mythical grail status in its level of difficulty given current societal mores and values. It is too inconsistent with our strongly rooted societal paradigm to afford any hope of realization in the near future. Thus, rather than expecting to capture the grail in the short term, many animal rights legal advocates are seeking more manageable steps that may someday lead to the elimination or modification of property status. This article critiques such efforts, specifically focusing on two potential stepping stones that may be perceived as particularly desirable for animal rights activists: seeking limited personhood for intelligent species of animals, such as chimpanzees; and the possible expansion of tort law to provide animals standing as plaintiffs whose interests are represented by court-appointed humans.
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