Political Animals: Rights For All

Históricamente, la relación entre humanos y animales ha sido desigual, de modo que los animales, ya fueran domésticos o salvajes, eran vistos como una especie inferior. Will Kymlicka, filósofo canadiense y defensor de los derechos de los animales, está decidido a poner fin a esta visión.

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In the United States alone, ten billion land animals a year are raised and killed for human consumption, often kept in terrible conditions of industrial confinement. Across the world, the habitat of wild animals is being destroyed and their numbers radically diminishing. Overharvesting, pollution, habitat destruction, overhunting and unsustainable human population growth are key causes of animal extinction.

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Today, the animal rights movement is strong, but there are still many people who believe that humans are superior to animals and that treatment not fit for humans is suitable for animals. Some even argue that to believe in the human rights cause we must also accept the idea of a hierarchy of species.

A MORAL CATASTROPHE

Canadian political philosopher Will Kymlicka argues that the way human rights are framed and justified in terms of what he calls “species narcissism” is a moral catastrophe. In the book Zoopolis, co-authored by the animal activist Sue Donaldson, he offers a new approach to the theory and practice of animal rights. Rather than focusing on moral issues, the book argues that animals are political entities and we should look at how they relate to human societies. 

CITIZENS AND RESIDENTS

Kymlicka and Donaldson separate animals into three main categories: domestic animals should be given co-citizenship, they say, in which their best interests and preferences would be taken into account. Wild animals, on the other hand, should be given sovereignty on their land enough so that they can sustain their way of living and prosper. And finally, they argue, animals that are wild but live in human settlements, such as pigeons or mice, should be seen as residents of our societies, but not fully included in the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

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