Animal Law Review


Fatema Merchant

Author Details

Fatema Merchant, J.D. candidate, American University Washington College of Law

First Page



Trouble brews, on the other hand, for those advocates who aim farther afield, who demand that animals be granted formal legal rights. Graphics and adjectives alone are vastly insufficient to validate just how that project would operate under the law or how science and logic would support a formal position on animals as “rights-holders.” Unhappily, the animal rights movement, as it takes such aim, has shown that it is weaker, not stronger, for the effort. Separate from its vulnerability to criticism by those politically opposed, a call for legal rights for animals is without justification on the very two pillars on which such a claim presumes to found itself”“ the precepts of law and of science. The claim’s inherent weaknesses are revealed in the use of terms that are inapplicable given both the way that legal rules work as a practical matter and the current level of our scientific knowledge about animals themselves. This article confronts these two core defects of the animal rights paradigm and seeks to shed the light of law, science, and reason on what seems to be an unreasonable, nonscientific, and yet ill-critiqued phenomenon.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.