Date of Degree

2-2021

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Philosophy

Advisor

Steven Ross

Committee Members

Peter Godfrey-Smith

Jesse Prinz

Lori Gruen

Subject Categories

Animal Law | Applied Ethics | Ethics and Political Philosophy

Keywords

Animal ethics, Animal rights, law, personhood, sentience

Abstract

All animals with non-borderline sentience are deserving of certain legal considerations independent of their use and relationship to human beings. That is, all sentient beings should have some rights. Given the current organization of the U.S. legal system, which divides all entities into property or persons, it is not surprising that animals are relegated to property status. I put forth a proposal to fix this whose central suggestion is that we create a third legal designation, legal patient, into which all non-person sentient animals (those which do not properly belong on either current category) would fit. These animals would receive certain limited rights, which would be implemented through legal structures already in place, such as those used in providing legal advocacy for children.

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