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Gary Chartier

Aligning Natural and Positive Law: The Case of Non-Human Sentients


ISBN: 978-3-88405-765-0

Price: €12.80 (including 19 % tax)


Abstract

Natural law theory has many facets, including (i) the contemporary post-Thomist New Classical Natural Law (NCNL) theory and (ii) approaches that emphasize the importance of spontaneous social order. Natural law theory provides a provocative and helpful account of the moral standing of nonhuman sentients and of their status within a reasonable legal system. Where humans are concerned, natural law theorists are quite clear that what I call the Principle of Respect rules out purposeful and instrumental attacks on others’ well being; this principle could be seen to preclude attacks on animals as well as humans. What I call the Principle of Fairness might be thought to rule out arbitrary disregard for non-human sentients’ interests. Natural law theorists have not endorsed the application of these principles to non-human sentients. But the considerations that might dispose natural law theorists to acknowledge human rights should also incline them to acknowledge animal rights. Various objections to this strategy fail to convince. While it is clear how NCNL theory, if applicable, might serve to protect animal rights, the spontaneous order tradition of natural law thinking might seem to appear less relevant. 
Indeed, it might initially seem to offer no room for legal protection of non-human sentients because its focus is on human self-organization. However, social institutions that could be expected to emerge in bottom-up fashion in a free society could, indeed, offer important safeguards for animal rights.




 


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