Similarity or Difference as a Basis for Justice: Must Animals Be Like Humans… (T.L. Bryant)


Taimie L. Bryant ( University of California , Los Angeles (UCLA), USA )


Animal Rights, Legal protection for animals


The argument that justice requires better treatment of animals frequently rests on the idea that like entities should be treated alike. The claim is, since animals are like humans as to capacities of cognition and suffering, animals should be legally protected from the types of exploitation and harms from which humans are already legally protected. This article argues that this type of similarity argument is flawed on theoretical and pragmatic grounds. By contrast, developments in securing legal justice in other social justice contexts, such as feminist and disability rights advocacy, suggest that equal treatment based on similarity as the predominant value is yielding to equality based on other values, such as diversity and inclusivity. Activists for animals can contribute to these alternative pathways to justice by choosing projects that stem from an anti-discrimination stance as opposed to those that originate in an ideological argument of similarity to humans.


(2007) 70 Law and Contemporary Problems 207


Similarity or Difference as a Basis for Justice: Must Animals Be Like Humans To Be Legally Protected From Humans?