Animal rights

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The topic of Animal rights concerns the moral obligations owed by human beings to non-human animals.

The concept of animal rights should be distinguished from animal welfare. The animal rights position is that animals have inherent rights in and of themselves, and not simply in relation to their usefulness as a means to the ends of human beings. Animal welfare, on the other hand, is concerned that animals not be treated cruelly, but still allows that animals can be treated as property by human beings.

Philosophical basis

One possible basis for animal rights is the Principle of equal consideration.


If animals have rights akin to the basic rights that we acknowledge that most human beings possess, then the property status of animals is suspect. Treating animals as property denies the right to equal consideration.

Human beings have an acknowledged right to control over their own bodies. If similar rights are recognised for animals, this suggests that vegetarianism is the moral course of action for human beings.