ASI Summer Fellowship

Sadly, I was unable to attend this year’s Summer Fellowship Program produced by the Animals and Society Institute. I’m grateful, then, to read the blog of Ken Shapiro, ASI’s executive director, which included his “personal reading of a primary idea selected from the presentations of this year’s seven fellows.” The most interesting to me is Siobhan O’Sullivan, who said, 

Most ethical arguments on the animal issue build on the argument that human and nonhuman animals are similar in some way and yet are treated differently. O’Sullivan argues that it is a more effective policy-making strategy to apply this principle of equality within the same family of animals — if we protect horses that are companion animals, we should offer the same protection to horses in rodeos or in the wild.

This is interesting because it highlights an obvious point frequently overlooked, at least by me. Which is to say laws on animals reflect the way in which we use them: legislation is speciesist because a law protecting dogs who are companion animals treats the dog differently from how a law regulating animal research views the same species. An intriguing strategy is to make the case animal law should be at least species consistent to the level which provides the greatest protection.