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Animals 2011, 1(1), 102-115;

Animal Rights as a Mainstream Phenomenon

Department of Philosophy, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA
Received: 21 December 2010 / Accepted: 4 January 2011 / Published: 19 January 2011
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The twentieth century has witnessed a bewildering array of ethical revolutions, from civil rights to environmentalism to feminism. Often ignored is the rise of massive societal concern across the world regarding animal treatment. Regulation of animal research exists in virtually all western countries, and reform of “factory farming” is regnant in Europe and rapidly emerging in the United States. Opponents of concern for animals often dismiss the phenomenon as rooted in emotion and extremist lack of appreciation of how unrestricted animal use has improved human life. Such a view totally ignores the rational ethical basis for elevating legal protection for animals, as explained in this essay.


Businesses and professions must stay in accord with social ethics, or risk losing their autonomy.A major social ethical issue that has emerged in the past four decades is the treatment of animals in various areas of human use. Society’s moral concern has outgrown the traditional ethic of animal cruelty that began in biblical times and is encoded in the laws of all civilized societies. There are five major reasons for this new social concern, most importantly, the replacement of husbandry-based agriculture with industrial agriculture. This loss of husbandry to industry has threatened the traditional fair contract between humans and animals, and resulted in significant amounts of animal suffering arising on four different fronts. Because such suffering is not occasioned by cruelty, a new ethic for animals was required to express social concerns. Since ethics proceed from preexisting ethics rather than ex nihilo, society has looked to its ethic for humans, appropriately modified, to find moral categories applicable to animals. This concept of legally encoded rights for animals has emerged as a plausible vehicle for reform. View Full-Text
Keywords: animal rights; animal husbandry; social ethic; anti-cruelty ethic; recollection animal rights; animal husbandry; social ethic; anti-cruelty ethic; recollection
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Rollin, B.E. Animal Rights as a Mainstream Phenomenon. Animals 2011, 1, 102-115.

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