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Title: All Animals Are Not Equal: The Interface between Scientific Knowledge and Legislation for Animal Rights
Contributor(s): Rogers, Lesley (author); Kaplan, Gisela (author)
Publication Date: 2004
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Abstract: Any current legislation or code of practice for animal welfare must take into account current scientific knowledge on the biology and behavior of different species. We have guidelines for rodents, dogs, cats, apes, and any number of animals to ensure that research and other practices meet the needs of specific orders, families, or even species. The call for animal rights, it seems, functions on a different intellectual trajectory, namely, the notion of "sameness" and perhaps even of "universality" - as indeed do human rights. At least, in human rights, the conferment of rights on a global scale is for one species, although cultural differences and different legal traditions may also decisively impinge on ideas of universality. How much more difficult is it to decide rights for animals! One of the hallmarks of animal existence is its diversity and difference, the specificity of their requirements, skills, and needs in very concrete ecological settings. If we attempt to find as a measuring stick a common denominator, we inevitably encounter the problem of deciding which species will be included in, and which excluded from, the new legislative practices. In other words, where does one draw the line between those to be given the privilege of protection from abuse and those to be not so treated? As we will show, this important decision cannot be made lightly, and the deeper we look at it, the more we realize that drawing the line accurately is bedeviled by gaps in the relevant scientific knowledge about most species and the inaccuracies of attempting to rate species according to a single criterion, or even a small set of criteria. It has been proposed that animal rights should be awarded according to a set of criteria related to higher cognition. The greater an animal's sense of self-awareness and the more advanced its higher cognition, the better the case to include its species as the recipient of a set of new privileges.
Publication Type: Book Chapter
Source of Publication: Animal Rights: Current Debates and New Direction, p. 175-202
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Place of Publication: New York, USA
ISBN: 0195152174
Field of Research (FOR): 220206 History and Philosophy of Science (incl Non-historical Philosophy of Science)
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