Professor Wants to Make Dogs and Other Animals Citizens, Just Not Unborn Babies

International   |   Wesley J. Smith   |   Dec 17, 2014   |   3:51PM   |   Washington, DC

Liberal media loves anti-human exceptionalism. I have written how the NYT will seemingly publish any idea and promote any cause that would destroy the unique value of human life.

Now Vox has joined the list, with an interview of Will Kymlicka, a Canadian professor (of course!), who wants to make all domestic animals citizens of our societies. Why should animals be citizens? From, “Should Dogs be Citizens?”

The first idea is that we’ve brought dogs and other domesticated animals into our society. That’s a decision we have made — to domesticate animals — and the very term domestication indicates that’s process of incorporating them into our world. So we need to ask: what do we owe them in virtue of the fact that we’ve brought them into our world?

We owe them membership. We need to recognize domesticated animals as members of our society. And citizenship is the legal and political term that we have historically used to recognize membership. The ways in which humans stake claims to membership is by staking claims to citizenship. It’s our legal and political tool for recognizing it.

abortiondogThis is just another way of making animals our equals.

Citizenship in the human case is typically thought of a set of rights and responsibilities. [Co-author Donaldson and I] go through each one of them and ask when they’re applicable to animals. We end up arguing that yes, most of them are [applicable to animals], quite directly.

Animals don’t have any responsibilities! They are incapable of understanding the concept. So, what about that?

The right to vote doesn’t apply to animals, but the deeper ideas behind them do. So we need to find mechanisms that ensure their interests are counted in determining the public good. And we need a way for them to have a say in matters that affect them. It won’t be through voting, so we need to find other ways of soliciting and responding to their preferences.

In other words, animal rights ideologues would be given the political power to represent those that “can’t speak for themselves.”

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And the usual animal rights insult that fauna are akin to people with cognitive disabilities:

In the cognitive disability literature, there’s a discussion about how you can bring choices, meaningful choices into people’s lives so that they’re able to experiment with different possible activities and relationships. We think a lot of that stuff is applicable to animals.

So I wouldn’t get hung up on voting. We need to think about it as a mechanism, and even in the human case we’re going to need more than just voting to achieve this deeper ideal of counting interests and enabling people to participate.

Animal rights aren’t even enough:

We need to create a shared interspecies society which is responsive to the interests of both its human and animal members. That means that it’s not just a question of how you ensure that animals aren’t abused. If we view them as members of society — it’s as much their society as ours — then it changes the perspective 180 degrees.

The question is no longer “how do we make sure they’re not so badly treated?” We instead need to ask “what kind of relationships do they want to have with us?”


And here I thought Animal Farm was a political satire. Note: Wesley J. Smith, J.D., is a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture and a bioethics attorney who blogs at Human Exeptionalism.