Political Agency, Citizenship, and Non-human Animals

Res Publica 24 (4):509-530 (2018)
  Copy   BIBTEX


In this essay I challenge the idea that political agency must be central to the concept of citizenship. I consider this question in relation to whether or not domesticated animals can be understood as our fellow citizens. In recent debates on this topic, both proponents and opponents of animal citizenship have taken political agency to be central to this question. I advance two main arguments against this position. First, I argue against the orthodox view that claims political agency is a requirement of citizenship. This position ignores both how citizenship is understood in practice by modern, liberal democracies, as well as the separate functions of citizenship. Further, there are no plausible ways we can consistently extend citizenship to humans regardless of intellectual ability, while denying it to domesticated animals. Nevertheless, I argue that it is important to distinguish two ways in which citizenship is enacted: Citizenship as Membership and Citizenship as Responsible, Political Agent. Domesticated animals should be understood as citizens, despite the fact that they are not responsible, political agents. Second, I challenge the view, put forward by Donaldson and Kymlicka, that animals are capable of certain forms of political agency. I argue that political agency is not crucial to whether, and how, the preferences of these animals matter for political decision-making. The upshot of my argument is that political agency matters much less to debates about the citizenship of non-human animals than both sides of this debate have been inclined to think.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 77,916

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Political space of ecological citizenship.Jelena Vasiljevic - 2012 - Filozofija I Društvo 23 (1):102-111.
Animals, Agency and Resistance.Bob Carter & Nickie Charles - 2013 - Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 43 (3):322-340.
The Normative Limits of Consumer Citizenship.Angela Kallhoff - 2016 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 29 (1):23-34.
Global Government and Global Citizenship.Alan Tomhave - 2013 - International Journal of Applied Philosophy 27 (2):287-297.


Added to PP

35 (#341,069)

6 months
8 (#116,944)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Daniel Hooley
Capilano University

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Interspecies Politics: Reply to Hinchcliffe and Ladwig.Sue Donaldson & Will Kymlicka - 2015 - Journal of Political Philosophy 23 (3):321-344.

Add more references