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)
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.
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.
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
Graduate studies at Western
Using PhilPapers from home?
Create an account to enable off-campus access through your institution's proxy server.
Monitor this page
Be alerted of all new items appearing on this page. Choose how you want to monitor it:
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa
Jack Alan Reynolds
Darrell P. Rowbottom
Learn more about PhilPapers