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International Animal Rights ConferenceInternational Animal Rights Conference

Thursday, 13.09.2012   15:00-15:50   Room A
The animal and rights theory
Jan-Harm De Villiers

In this paper I engage with animal rights theory and examine the way that animal rights talk has developed. I specifically examine the current conception of animal rights and focus on the "similarity" or "same-as" characteristic, which holds that animals should be granted legal rights because they share certain human traits or characteristics that warrants consideration and protection. The rationale behind the similarity argument is that animals who possess capacities and characteristics similar to that of humans should receive equivalent protection, as a just society requires that similar entities be treated alike. My study is premised on the argument that this conception of animal rights perpetuates hierarchical ordering and is irreconcilable with an attempt at advancing the ethical relation to the animal Other. Ultimately I call for an approach that acknowledges and respects the individuality and alterity of animals, rather than utilizing the human (and personhood) as the standard against which animals are to be measured to determine their worthiness of rights.













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