SCELG Seminar Series: Talking about Animal Rights: Moral claims of non-human animals and their legal preconditions (Philipp Gisbertz)
Wednesday, 25 November 2015 from 14:00 to 16:00 (GMT)
San Francisco, California
London, United Kingdom
Strathclyde Centre for Enviornmental Law and Governance
The seminar is free but places are limited.
Light snacks will be provided.
Talking about Animal Rights
Moral claims of non-human animals and their legal preconditions
PhD Researcher, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
About 50 million newborn chicks are gassed or shred in Germany every year. And other countries do not act any different. Almost everyone hearing this information and number for the first time is shocked. And, no doubt, it is raising questions – ethical, economic, political, social and also legal questions. Is it wrong to kill animals for sound economic reasons? The legal philosophy needs to answer the very basis of questions like these: What is the ethical status of non-human animals? And what does this mean for the law?
The relationship between the human society and non-human animals is complex. We love our pets; we enjoy visiting the zoo and think that children can learn a lot there; we experiment with animals in support of medical research, but also to improve cosmetic products; we keep animals in factory farming; and consume a huge variety of animal products condoning animal suffering and death. In all these situations, it is essential to have a coherent and sound idea about what we morally owe to non-human animals.
There are good reasons to think that animals are moral patients, i.e. ends in themselves. But there might be good reasons to regard human beings as more important for (human) moral decisions, too. What exactly defines the moral status of an entity? In taking a deeper look at this basic question, we can identify the importance of animal ethics as well as its boundaries.
Treating non-human animals with respect is not just a question of mere benevolence, it is a question of justice. Animal interests are subject to moral consideration and ought not to be ignored – neither in ethics nor in law. This means that talking about animal ethics is always talking about animal rights. But if we talk about animal rights, we talk about this moral demand to respect and not about legal rights. Animal rights do not raise the question of whether the law is directly bound to moral considerations in the same way as Human Rights do. They make a claim to the legal system, which we should recognize. But it is exactly the difference in the moral status that gives us a good reason to differentiate between human and animal rights. Still in the end, there are strong moral reasons to change our behaviour towards non-human animals broadly, also in the legal framework.
Philipp Gisbertz is completing a PhD in Legal Philosophy and Law at the Department for Legal and Social Philosophy of the University of Göttingen, Germany. His research focuses on philosophical questions of human dignity and animal rights in German and Anglo-Saxon philosophy, on the basic principles of liberal democracies and on constitutional law. His thesis analyses the concept of Human Dignity and the scepticism about it in Anglo-Saxon philosophy. He studied law and philosophy in Berlin, Hagen and Göttingen and worked in the field of sustainable economics for the German Bundestag and a CSR consultancy.
When & Where
Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance
The Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law & Governance (SCELG) is based at the University of Strathclyde Law School in Glasgow, Scotland. We strive for globally impactful research, teaching and knowledge exchange in a wide range of inter-connected areas of environmental law and governance. For more information, visit our website: http://www.strath.ac.uk/scelg/