Animals as Non-personal Carriers
of Legal Rights

The current body of knowledge about the subjectivity (cognition and value-laden
experience) of some non-human vertebrates makes the juristic dichotomy between
commodities and persons untenable. While the great apes may (with some limitations)
be treated as persons, most vertebrates are non-personal agents that
lack the awareness of their own agency, which does not necessarily diminish the
intrinsic value of their lives. Unfortunately, the ongoing efforts to raise the status
and thus improve the treatment of all sentient animals are hin dered by the lack of
realistic conceptual framework for translating the current knowledge of their subjectivity
and ensuing individual interests into politics and legislation. Referring
to Western philosophers of law (H. Kelsen, A. Ross, N. MacCormick, L. Petrażycki)
we therefore propose to grant vertebrates (and possibly some other animals if
their subjectivity is recognized by science) legal rights that are appropriate for
non-personal subjects even if the scope of such rights has to be very limited in
comparison to the rights of human beings.

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