Could the 13th Am. prohibit the factory farming of animals?
markstein at prodigy.net
Tue Aug 8 10:57:44 PDT 2006
I don't disagree, but speculation about extending the 13th Amendment to animals does not prevent us from supporting more realistic legislative proposals.
Frank Cross <crossf at mail.utexas.edu> wrote:
I don't see how the "rights" theory is useful in advancing animal welfare, at least for most animals. Intrinsic in the notion of a "right" is a choice. Thus, slavery is compelled labor, without choice. There is no way to distinguish factory farms from Heritage farms from pet birds. Moreover, even if you gave an animal a "right," how could it sue to enforce that right? Exactly which humans would have standing to sue?
Animal welfare can be protected without distorting the Constitution. Legislatures pass statutes protecting animal welfare. It's simply a matter of commanding the democratic process for this end. And the chances of convincing a legislature are a lot better than persuading the judiciary that the 13th Amendment applies to animals.
At 12:29 PM 8/8/2006, MARK STEIN wrote:
If we are speaking of personal motivation and personal behavior, we do not need to think that animals have rights in order to reduce animal suffering. But if we want to use the power of government to reduce animal suffering, we may have to make animals the holders of legal rights or at least the objects of legal duties.
I agree that the fundamental moral objective is to promote welfare, among people and animals. Legal rights are a means to that end, whether the rights are held by people or animals.
You ask, "Why limit your question to factory farm animals. What about animals enslaved for entertainment purposes (circuses, rodeos, film, television, etc) and in research laboratories. A 13th Amendment argument should apply in those cases, if it applies on farms."
Tough question. These usages do not seem as bad to me, but I'd have to work on that intuition to come up with an argument.
"Tauber, Steven C." <stauber at cas.usf.edu> wrote:
As someone who has embarked on an empirical study of the politics surrounding animal law and as an adherent to the animal liberation movement, I have several responses to Mark and Jon's posts.
Although "interesting" is matter of taste, I disagree with Jon's point that rights for androids is more interesting than rights for animals. There is certainly some fascinating science fiction about the rights of androids (there is an episode of Star Trek The Next Generation that deals with the legal status of Lieutenant Commander Data), but this is an academic matter, since none of the entities that Jon mentions currently exist. Nevertheless, there are billions of animals that needlessly suffer at the hands of humans; therefore, animal law addresses pressing concerns. In fact, animal law is one of the fastest growing branches of legal scholarship. In political science, the politics of animal law is also a growing area of research, with a panel for the Western currently being organized (see Richard Brisbin's post to this list from July 11th).
I take greater issue with Jon's comment that, "an argument for farm animals is truly frivolous, at least in their current state of cognitive development." John, if you think we should base rights on cognition, then you should be aware that higher order mammals posses greater cognitive skills than humans under 2 years old and adult humans with severe cognitive disabilities. A recent study even suggests that birds have a fundamental understanding of recursiveness in language. If Jon, or anyone else, bases rights on cognition, then I will assume that those individuals believe that it is frivolous to grant rights to humans under 2 years old and those with severe mental disabilities. Regardless of what thinks about "rights" for animals, the issue is most definitely not frivolous. As I will discuss below, I personally prefer the Utilitarian approach to animal liberation over the "rights" approach, but I still highly regard the argument in favor of animal "rights." I
suggest that anyone who disagrees should read Tom Regan, Steven Wise, and Gary Francione before blithely dismissing the notion of animal rights.
To Mark, I ask, why limit your question to factory farm animals. What about animals enslaved for entertainment purposes (circuses, rodeos, film, television, etc) and in research laboratories. A 13th Amendment argument should apply in those cases, if it applies on farms.
Finally, I think the notion of animal "rights" in general and the 13th Amendment in particular is interesting, but strategically it is not an effective way to improve the plight of animals. Peter Singer takes the Utilitarian approach to animal liberation, which argues that animal suffering should be incorporated into the calculus of human action. For example, it is just as easy to avoid eating meat as it is to eat meat, but a vegetarian diet greatly reduces animal suffering. Therefore, people should adopt a vegetarian diet in order to reduce overall suffering. One does not need to worry about the difficult question of granting "rights" when taking the Utilitarian approach. In fact, Singer's Animal Liberation, which highlights animal suffering caused by human enterprises, is the inspiration for the modern day animal liberation movement.
Thanks for the interesting post Mark.
Steven Tauber, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director
Department of Government & International Affairs
University of South Florida
4202 East Fowler Ave.; SOC 352
Tampa, FL 33620-8100
From: owner-LAWCOURTS-L at usc.edu on behalf of Jon Roland
Sent: Mon 8/7/2006 10:54 PM
To: MARK STEIN
Cc: lawcourts-l at usc.edu
Subject: Re: Could the 13th Am. prohibit the factory farming of animals?
Thirteenth Amendment is about rights, and only persons can have rights, by definition. The form of the amendment is a restriction on government, that that equates into a complementary right, or more properly, immunity, of persons. The Constitution as a whole, including its amendments, is only about rights, powers, duties, structures, and procedures. Nowhere does it address restrictions that could be construed as "immunities" of non-persons, therefore, neither does the Thirteenth.
More interesting is to consider what we do if other things than humans exhibit the attributes of personhood: enhanced animals, androids, AI programs, space aliens. This issue has been addressed by science fiction, even in legal settings ("I, Robot", Eando Binder). The day is fast approaching, barring the collapse of civilization by nuclear terrorism, when we will have to confront that issue for real.
But an argument for farm animals is truly frivolous, at least in their current state of cognitive development.
Constitution Society 7793 Burnet Road #37, Austin, TX 78757
512/299-5001 www.constitution.org jon.roland at constitution.org ----------------------------------------------------------------
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