A New & Worthy Member of the Animal Blog Community

David Cassuto

From the email:

Friends of Animals of Animals, in partnership with Professor Martha C. Nussbaum, has launched a new project: Establishing the Legal, Scientific and Philosophical Basis for A Right to Ethical Consideration for Animals. The project blog can be found here: https://friendsofanimals.org/wildlife-law-program/wildlife-law-program-blog/

About the project: Currently, the law only seeks to minimize the physical suffering or death of an animal, or loss of an animal’s habitat, when sanctioning human activity. Increasingly, however, we understand both scientifically and philosophically that our impact on animals can be more than just physical. As Martha C. Nussbaum would explain it, our current legal system fails to respect one or more of the species-specific, central capabilities: life, bodily integrity, bodily health, play, sense/imagination/thought, emotion, practical reason, affiliation, and control over one’s environment.

The right to ethical consideration we seek is a legal obligation on our governmental decision-makers to fully examine how human actions degrade the types of lives animals are trying to lead. Such a right is not based solely on our compassion or empathy for an animal, but on moral and scientific principles that we can justify by argument. Our decision-making processes must embrace our ever-expanding knowledge of how human involvement or interference with an animal diminishes one or more of that animal’s central capabilities. In other words, the reason to focus on the ethical treatment of animals is because of them, not because of us.  What we feel is neither here nor there. What matters is the suffering of the animals, and whether we feel compassion or not we are morally obligated to relieve it.

Finally, the right to ethical consideration we seek is not the granting of specific substantive rights for animals, like the right to life, freedom, etc. It is, however, a pathway to strengthening legal protections for animals, and future substantive rights. By requiring decision-makers and the public to engage in active deliberation about the human impact on an animal’s ability to live a meaningful life, societal and legal beliefs regarding the rights of non-human animals can change for the better.

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White-tailed Deer and Valley Forge National Park

Gillian Lyons

Earlier this year, the National Park Service announced their plan to reduce the white-tailed deer population of Valley Forge National Park.  On October 4, the Service announced that the “lethal reduction phase” was set to begin this November and would take place over the next 4 years.  Overall, by 2014, the Service plans to eliminate 80% of the Park’s deer population, reducing the herd from over a 1000 to less than 200.  After 2014 the Park Service plans to maintain the herd’s shrunken population with the use of birth control.  The reason for this cull?  According to the Park Service, the deer population, overgrown as it is, is detrimental to the park’s flora and fauna- consuming more plant life than can be re-grown, and destroying habitat for the park’s other wildlife.                                     Continue reading