WHAT goes on in an animal’s mind? Do they make plans, do they recall certain events? What emotions do they feel and what is the nature of the bonds they form with each other and with us?
Many scientists, philosophers, animal lovers and others interested in these types of questions also ponder what rights animals should have.
As a vulnerable and often exploited group, justice for animals can seem a long way off.
A Canadian academic speaking in Hobart next week proposes a new way to look at our obligations to animals, shifting the debate from a moral perspective to a political one.
Ontario Professor Will Kymlicka’s latest book is called Zoopolis, a political theory of animal rights.
He divides animals into three categories: domesticated animals, wild animals and “in- between” animals – those who have adapted to life among people without being under our direct care.
For each of these categories, he applies a different form of political relationship.
Domesticated animals are citizens while wild animals have sovereignty with full right and power to live without interference from outside sources.
The in- between animals are wild but live in human settlements and are residents of our society but not fully included as citizens.
As citizens, domesticated animals would lead different lives than they do now and wild animals would have secure space.
This political way of categorising animals is based on principles of justice and compassion and connects the treatment of animals more directly to principles of human rights.
If it’s good enough for humans, it’s good enough for non- human animals.
If you wouldn’t do it to a human, don’t do it to an animal.
Professor Kymlicka will be speaking about animal advocacy and issues of democracy and diversity at a free public lecture to be held on Monday, August 11, from 5pm to 6pm, level 2, Geography Building at UTAS, Sandy Bay Campus.
For more information phone 6226 2348