Against Dignity: An Argument for a Non-Metaphysical Foundation of Animal Law Cover Image

Against Dignity: An Argument for a Non-Metaphysical Foundation of Animal Law
Against Dignity: An Argument for a Non-Metaphysical Foundation of Animal Law

Author(s): Tomasz Pietrzykowski
Subject(s): Philosophy, Law, Constitution, Jurisprudence, Constitutional Law, Ethics / Practical Philosophy
Published by: Stowarzyszenie Filozofii Prawa i Filozofii Społecznej – Sekcja Polska IVR
Keywords: animals; dignity; rights; law; constitution; ethics

Summary/Abstract: Animal protection as an emerging field of legislation needs to be constitutionalized as well as comprehensively expounded by legal scholars. As it is a growing body of regulation and accompanying legal theories, it needs to develop a solid conceptual and axiological framework, in particular a set of basic values and principles on which detailed rules are to be founded. Lacking these, the domain of animal law is still in the pre-paradigm stage and remains an assemblage of dispersed ideas, concepts and regulatory measures. It yet has to develop into a coherent whole that may grow to be a mature regulatory and doctrinal domain of the law. In order to reach this stage, it should be founded on clear theoretical and constitutional grounds. Lacking those, its further development, and effective operation may be seriously impeded. There seem to be two basic approaches that may serve as the possible foundations for a viable model of animal protection law. The first may be referred to as the “dignity” approach and the other, as the “sentientist” approach. According to the first of those two approaches, animal protection law should rely on the concept of animal dignity as its philosophical foundation. The second approach rejects the idea that the concept of animal dignity as the basis for the relevant legislation as philosophically dubious and entailing objectionable normative consequences for the scope and content of legal protections of animals. Thus, it aims rather at legal norms and policies being based directly on scientifically informed theories of sentience, evolutionarily developed nervous structures underlying cognitive and emotional capabilities or species-typical biological and psychological needs that condition the subjective well-being of a given creature. The aim of this paper is to analyse and discuss both these approaches and to argue that the former is philosophically, conceptually and practically flawed. The second approach, even despite some serious disadvantages, is therefore deemed to be preferable and more promising.

  • Issue Year: 27/2021
  • Issue No: 2
  • Page Range: 69-82
  • Page Count: 14
  • Language: English