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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Animals without rights : a critical analysis of recent approaches in animal ethics Sharoni, Boaz


Non-human animals suffer greatly and are exploited in numerous ways by humans. This is a grave injustice that points to an urgent need for an adequate framework from which to protect animals from mistreatment by humans. Although classical theories in the animal rights literature have existed for some time now, in recent years few theorists have engaged in the effort to find more persuasive theories under which the mistreatment of animals by humans should be considered. Two influential attempts to develop such a theory were undertaken by Martha Nussbaum in her article and book chapter "Beyond Compassion and Humanity: Justice for Nonhuman Animals" (2004, 2006), and by Robert Garner in his books Animal Ethics (2005) and A Theory of Justice for Animals: Animal Rights in a Nonideal World (2013). In this paper, I argue that both these approaches have fundamental flaws that prevent them from being adequate theoretical frameworks under which to protect animals. Through careful examination of the theories, I show why they can't fulfill what they claim to, and should be rejected. The only real way to protect animals, I argue, is to assign them universal rights under the theoretical concept of justice. Taking animal rights seriously means that they have these rights by virtue of their selfhood and sentience. An application of this view means an extension of the rights view, widely acknowledged since the human rights revolution, to animals. Such an extension would mean that virtually all human exploitive treatment of animals ought to be abolished. It calls for a new paradigm shift in human-animal relationships. It is now the appropriate historical and political moment for such an extension.

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