Kimberly K. Smith

in Governing Animals

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199895755
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199950522 | DOI:

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This chapter addresses whether a liberal government may legitimately enforce our moral duties to animals, given the liberal principle of limited government. Liberal theory teaches that the purpose of the government is limited to protect human freedom and welfare, which means that the state may not enforce the full range of private moral duties but only those that affect the liberty of other humans. This chapter argues that this understanding of the ends of liberal government is too narrow. It asserts that most animal welfare protections can be justified, because some animals may be considered members of the liberal social contract. Specifically, a liberal government may protect the welfare of animals with whom we have extensive social relationships, including, prominently, pets and livestock, even if such protection limits human freedom.

Keywords: social contract theory; animal welfare; liberal theory; moral duties; pets; livestock; human freedom

Chapter.  15689 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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