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Book: Advancing Nonviolence and Social Transformation

Chapter: Chapter 14. Being in 'Rights' Relationship with Animals: The Importance of Political Visibility for Animals

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.30223


This chapter identifies what Gary Francione terms the “moral schizophrenia” of human behaviour toward non-human animals; namely that what humans say about the moral value of animals radically contradicts how animals are often violently treated. This glaring contradiction serves as an opening to provoke the need for advancing new, non-violent relationships with the non-human. Upon tracing the roots of Western ethical discourse on animal welfare and identifying its limitations, I argue that rights discourse and the constituent designation of “personhood” presents one of the more viable and philosophically consistent approaches to the question of how to better advance the cause of nonviolence toward non-human animals. However I conclude that the extension of rights is only a preliminary step, and that such political change must be coupled with expanding horizons for re-imagining the human place in the world, and the corresponding relationships with the other animals who inhabit it.

Chapter Contributors

  • Nathan Townend ( - ntownend)