Upcoming Talk: “Beating Hearts: Abortion and Animal Rights”

Colb and Dorf

When: Tuesday, October 13th from 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm
Where: Watson Hall, room 517  (please note room change from previous announcements)

Professors Sherry Colb and Michael Dorf from the Cornell Law School will discuss the ways that pro-life arguments are invoked by both opponents of abortion and proponents of animal rights, and the political and philosophical challenges involved in linking or separating the two cases. Their presentation will draw upon their forthcoming book Beating Hearts: Abortion and Animal Rights (Columbia University Press, 2016). Colb and Dorf are well-known commentators on a variety of constitutional law issues, including animal law cases. Some of Sherry’s more popular animal-related writings are collected in her Mind If I Order the Cheeseburger? And Other Questions People Ask Vegans (Lantern 2013).

This event is part of the new Colloquium in Legal and Political Philosophy, an initiative of the Faculty of Law, the Department of Philosophy, and the Department of Political Studies. All are welcome.

Upcoming Talk: “Animal Rights, Human Rights, and the Future of the Planet”


A new school year is just beginning and we already have an event on the campus!

The School of Environmental Studies and APPLE research group invite you to the talk “Animal Rights, Human Rights, and the Future of the Planet” that will be given by Carter Dillard and Stephanie Feldstein.

  • Wednesday Sept. 16th, 2:30pm to 4:30pm
  • Watson Hall, Room 517


There are more than 7 billion people in the world today and approximately 56 billion land animals raised and slaughtered for food each year. Both of those numbers are quickly rising. Population growth and meat consumption are some of the leading causes of the current mass extinction crisis, putting humans on the path to replacing other species with ourselves and the domesticated animals we eat, decimating what remains of our once biodiverse planet. And yet, environmentalists rarely mention either. Livestock are often bred in cruel factory farms, occupy more than 25 percent of the earth, use one-third of arable land for their feed, and are responsible for massive amounts of water use and greenhouse gas emissions, making meat production and consumption one of the most inhumane and devastating industries on the planet – not only for farm animals, but for the wildlife and environment they impact. As world population and globalization continue to grow, so will the demand for animal products.

Meanwhile, due in large part to our explosive growth and voracious appetites, wildlife species are going extinct at the fastest rate since the time of the dinosaurs and climate change is threatening life on this earth as we know it. Yet the topics of population growth and overconsumption – particularly of animal products – is usually left out of conversations in law schools and the legal academy and among environmental groups, activists, and the media. All of this raises crucial questions that are rarely asked: Why are we, and the animals we eat, replacing other species on earth? Is the animal rights movement really progressing given the ongoing mass extinction of other species? Has the environmental movement failed given the prospects for extinction, anthropogenic climate change, and other environmental crises? How do human rights play into these issues, if at all? Can we rethink our most basic moral and legal norms to prevent the degradation of our world? Why aren’t more people talking about population growth and animal agriculture, and can we really do anything about it?

The speakers will discuss the vital connections between animal agriculture, human population growth, environmental protection, and systems of rights – both human and animal. They will explain how to use this synergy – along with advocacy, creativity, and legal action – to get beyond the stigma and taboo that usually keep population growth and our diets out of conversations and they will suggest legal reforms and practical ways for each of us to create a better future for all species Continue Reading

“Animal Model Research: The Apples and Oranges Quandary”


Photo by Flickr user Novartis AG

Faunalytics has brought attention to Kenneth Shapiro’s paper “Animal Model Research: The Apples and Oranges Quandary” published in 2004 in ATLA questioning the scientific validity of animal models for biomedical and psychological research.

Based on a host of background research, the author lists three ways that animal models fall short in terms of validity:

1. An animal model is never finally or fully validated.
2. Even an animal model for which some degree of validation has been demonstrated is not necessarily a contribution to understanding or treatment effectiveness.
3. Most animal models in biomedical and psychological research are not validated, even in the limited sense described.

With these three statements in mind, the author remarks that it is vitally important to understand animal models “a) in actual practice; b) as presented in the media and white papers by animal research advocates; and c) as they are supposed to work.” According to the author (and, it should be noted, many anti-vivisection advocates) there is a disconnect among these three.

If the animal models have limited validity, “the animal model is limited to a hypothesis generator. It is a locus of discovery not a locus of justification.”

Given that those hypotheses can be generated through a variety of alternative models (such and computer and mathematical models), and given that using animals implies virtually all the time a violation of their basic rights, there is still less reasons to use them in science.

Read the rest of the summary on Faunalytics and the original paper here.

Nonhuman Rights Project, First Step: Judge Recognizes Two Chimpanzees as Legal Persons

This is a breaking news for the animal rights movement, as the Nonhuman Rights Project issued the following press release this afternoon:


First Time in World History Judge Recognizes Two Chimpanzees as Legal Persons, Grants them Writ of Habeas Corpus

April 20, 2015 – New York, NY – For the first time in history a judge has granted an order to show cause and writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a nonhuman animal. This afternoon, in a case brought by the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP), Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jaffe issued an order to show cause and writ of habeas corpus on behalf of two chimpanzees, Hercules and Leo, who are being used for biomedical experimentation at Stony Brook University on Long Island, New York.

Under the law of New York State, only a “legal person” may have an order to show cause and writ of habeas corpus issued in his or her behalf. The Court has therefore implicitly determined that Hercules and Leo are “persons.”

A common law writ of habeas corpus involves a two-step process. First, a Justice issues the order to show cause and a writ of habeas corpus, which the Nonhuman Rights Project then serves on Stony Brook University. The writ requires Stony Brook University, represented by the Attorney General of New York, to appear in court and provide a legally sufficient reason for detaining Hercules and Leo. The Court has scheduled that hearing for May 6, 2015, though it may be moved to a later day in May.
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