The New York Times Magazine has just published an interesting piece on the Nonhuman Rights Project and Steven Wise, whose mission is to change the common law status of at least some nonhuman animals from “mere things” to “legal persons.” (I have previously written on their work here).
Harvard School of Law Petrie-Flom Center offers the following on this issue: “It is widely agreed, among both advocates and opponents of Wise’s work, that granting legal personhood to animals would be revolutionary. I think that this view is mistaken. To understand why, it is helpful to clarify and differentiate between three possible conceptions of what it might mean to be a “legal person”—a term that is often used in imprecise ways. Doing so reveals that animals are already legal persons, and that personhood does not itself count for very much.
“The first possibility of what we might mean by “legal personhood” is that an entity has the capacity to be granted rights. If this is what we mean, however, recognizing legal personhood for animals should not be seen as controversial. Insofar as the constitutions of states clearly allow them to grant rights to animals and other non-human entities, animals are already legal persons in this sense.
“The second possibility is that a legal person is an entity that has been granted some rights—rights that might, but need not, include the power to enforce them. But again, if this is what is meant by personhood, there is nothing radical about granting it to animals. Animals have long held rights in the Hohfeldian sense that humans have had duties to not harm them under various animal protections laws. Continue reading “Animal personhood”
People in the richworld should become “demitarians” – eating half as much meat as usual, while stopping short of giving it up – in order to avoid severe environmental damage, scientists have urged, in the clearest picture yet of how farming practices are destroying the natural world, say today’s The Guardian
“They said the horsemeat scandal had uncovered the dark side of our lust for meat, which has fuelled a trade in undocumented livestock and mislabelled cheap ready meals. ‘There is a food chain risk,’ said Professor Mark Sutton, who coined the term demitarian and is lead author of a UN Environment Programme study published on Monday . ‘Now is a good time to talk to people about this.’
“The quest for ever cheaper meat in the past few decades – most people even in rich countries ate significantly less meat one and two generations ago – has resulted in a massive expansion of intensively farmed livestock. Continue reading “Eat less meat, the scientists now say”
For most of the 20th century, animals weren’t allowed to have emotions. Your dog didn’t actually love you—it (and it was an “it” back then) was just a stimulus–response machine conditioned to act a specific way in a specific situation, says today’s Valentine edition of Wired Science. “Scientists who said otherwise—that animals actually had minds capable of thoughts and emotions—were accused of ‘anthropomorphizing’ and ridiculed by their peers. Even researchers as famous as chimp specialist Jane Goodall spent years sitting on evidence that animals could do more than just salivate at the sound of a bell.
‘But over time, that bias waned. Just consider the first sentence (and the title) of Virginia Morell’s new book, Animal Wise: The Thoughts and Emotions of Our Fellow Creatures: ‘Animals have minds.’ Continue reading “A valentine from the cat”
Apparently, visitors to Key West’s Ernst Hemingway Museum are often tickled by all of the weird cats the place has. Yes cats. in fact, pthe lace is overrun with cats who all have six toes
“The so-called Hemingway cats — who for generations have stretched out on Hemingway’s couch, curled up on his pillow and mugged for the Papa-razzi,” reports todays New York Times. “Tour guides recount over and over how the gypsy cats descend from Snowball, a fluffy white cat who was a gift to the Hemingways. Seafaring legend has it that polydactyl cats (those with extra toes) bring a bounty of luck, which certainly explains their own pampered good fortune.
“But it seems the charms of even 45 celebrated six-toed cats have proved powerless against one implacable foe: federal regulators.
“The museum’s nine-year bid to keep the cats beyond the reach of the Department of Agriculture ended in failure this month. The United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled that the agency has the power to regulate the cats under the Animal Welfare Act, which applies to zoo and traveling circus animals, because the museum uses them in advertisements, sells cat-related merchandise online and makes them available to paying tourists.
“In other words, the cats are a living, breathing exhibit and require a federal license.
“’The most ludicrous part of the whole thing is that if we were really dealing with the health and welfare of the cats, this would have never been an issue,’ said Michael A. Marowski, the great-nephew of the woman who bought the Hemingway house in 1961, the year Hemingway died, and opened it as a museum in 1964.”
Full story at: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/23/us/cats-at-hemingway-museum-draw-a-legal-battle.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0