Martha Nussbaum

Frontiers of Justice

Ch 6: Beyond Compassion and Humanity, Pt 3

pages 388-407



2.      Can rights of animals, over time, become part of a overlapping consensus

         a.      Something people can find reasonable to agree upon despite having different religious backgrounds and world views?

3.      While many religions as practiced to not take animal rights seriously, there is nothing in the doctrines themselves that rule it out

         a.      And the foundational text give more support for this than for equality of sexes.

4.      Predicts opposition to cruel practices toward animals increase and eventually much of what she argues for can be agreed upon

5.      Guardians appointed to protect animal entitlements

         a.      Use good-faith estimate of conception of the good for each type of animal



7.      Life

         a.      All animals entitled to continue their lives, whether or not have a conscious interest in so doing

         b.      Entitlement is less robust when delaying with insects and other non-sentient or minimally sentient forms of life

                   i.       I thought that in this world only sentient creatures had the types of capabilities whose non-flourishing counts as an injustice?

                   ii.      Gratuitous killing of such creatures still wrong

                   iii.     Law in some cases prevent it (killing of butterflies for school projects)

                   iv.     No entitlement based on justice violated when kill for good reason (food)

                            (1)    Entitlements based on the strength of the reason for destroying a capability?

         c.      With sentient animals, entitlements strong

                   i.       All have secure entitlement against gratuitous killing for sport or luxury items (fur)–should be banned

                   ii.      Also should ban cruel and painful practices in rasing and killing animals for food

                   iii.     Painless killing for food or population control is a difficult case

                   iv.     Gradually move toward a consensus against killing at lest more complex sentient animals for food

                   v.      At first insist on clear labeling of all meat as to conditions animals were raised.

         d.      Important difference from utilitarianism: If people lose jobs in the meat industry, don’t have to consider that (as does Utilitarian) as they have no entitlement to jobs that exploit and tyrannize and the animals do have entitlements

         e.      Hunting: Painless predation (marksman hunters?) to control populations preferable to other deaths; but work for better options (sterilization)

8.      Bodily health: animals entitled to a healthy life

         a.      Laws prohibiting cruel treatment of working animals; proper nutrition for animals under human care

9.      Bodily integrity:

         a.      Declawing of cats probably banned under this as prevents cat from flourishing in its own characteristic way, even if not painful

         b.      Other mutilations that make animals more beautiful in human eyes also inappropriate–tail docking and ear clipping of dogs

         c.      Opportunity for reproduction and sexual satisfaction (not nearly as important in animal as in human life)

                   i.       Castration of some animals dogs horses cats is compatible with flourishing lives and leads to less violence to other animals

                   ii.      So to sterilization to create better lives for future animals?

                   iii.     Not using one animal as a means to good of another, because sterilization compatible with flourishing life and dignity of the animal

10.    Senses, imagination and thought

         a.      Reject confinement of animals–places animals kept should be spacious, have light and shade, and allow for a wide range of characteristic activities

         b.      Avoid boring habitats (as in traditional zoos)

         c.      Suitable education –abuse an animal if not toilet trained, and border collie and some breeds of horses who is not trained is abused

11.    Emotions

         a.      Entitled to lives open to attachment to others, to love and care for them and not have them warped by isolation

         b.      Emotional needs of not just our pets, but zoo animals, lab animals, farm/food animals

12.    Practical Reason–not applicable to animals

13.    Affiliation

         a.      Entitlement to form attachments, engaging in characteristic forms of bonding and interrelationships

         b.      Treated as dignified beings, whether or not the are aware of this

         c.      CA does not protect all forms of affiliation animals actually have with each other–eg destructive interspecies and intraspecies behavior

                   i.       E.g., assaults on infants by parents or harsh policies toward sick, disable or elderly species

                   ii.      Humans obliged to intervene to prevent these abuses

                   iii.     Animal culture are full of humiliation of weak by strong; perhaps tolerated but not protected as central capabilities

14.    Other species

         a.      Just as humans are entitled to live with concern and relation to other species and nature, so are other animals

         b.      P. 400: Calls for a gradual formation of interdependent world in which all species enjoy cooperative and mutually supportive relations; nature is not that way and never has been. So it calls, in a very general way, for the gradual supplanting of the natural by the just

                   i.       This means the gradual elimination of predators!

15.    Play

16.    Control over one’s environment

         a.      Respect for territorial integrity of their habitat

         b.      Right to dignified and respectful labor conditions for laboring animals


17.    Each nation should put the general concept of animal rights in their constitution

         a.      Will have standing to bring suit (via a guardian) when entitlements denied them.



19.    When conflict between capabilities occurs (parents face choice of educating or feeding their children), we know society has not been well designed.

20.    Threshold of each capabilities should be set with an eye to the other capabilities

21.    World we live in contains persistent/tragic conflicts between well being of humans and animals

         a.      Lots of ways to get rid of these

         b.      Case of food in general more difficult; no one really knows what impact on world env would be of a total switch to veggie sources of protein and extent to which such a diet would be made compatible with health of all world’s children

                   i.       Switch would be healthier and because much more efficient use of land space, it would leave lot more of nature for wild animals and more land for human food

22.    Animal research unresolved conflict area

         a.      Its crucial to medical advances, but seriously undercuts capabilities of animals (inflicts disease, death and pain animals)

         b.      She’s for reforming the system, treating animals better, only pursing absolutely important research on animals, looking for alternatives

         c.      It’s a tragic situation