Glossary of Animal Rights
Linked entries go to the primary page where they are treated on How to Do Animal Rights.
A theory stating that there is only one moral truth for everyone. Recognising this view we can better understand some people’s opposition to animal rights.
- Action Plan
This is a simple document that you write as a guide that helps ensure your activities and project are successful.
Helping others at some cost to the helper, eg giving away food helps nourish others that could have nourished the giver. Altruism may be a basis for moral behaviour.
- Animal Ethics
The systematic study of how we ought to treat animals and therefore central to animal rights.
- Animal Holocaust
The mass destruction of wild and domesticated animals by humanity, a direct comparison with Nazi mass murder. People kill billions of animals annually.
- Animal Law
The study and practice of law relating to animals, applying a country's legal system to speak for animals and their human associates and allies.
- Animal Rights
Benefits people give to animals to protect them from human use and abuse. Rights can take moral, legal and practical forms.
- Animal Rights History
Darwin advanced the human-animal relations debate by showing humans evolved from animals. Thus if humans have moral status then animals might have it too.
The belief that people are the most important thing in the world. Also called human centredness, this attitude strongly affects animals.
Attributing human characteristics to non-humans, eg my computer is grouchy today. We must avoid anthropomorphism when applying rights to animals.
Cleric (1225 - 1274) whose philosophy in the Christian Church released people from scruples about what humans might do to animals.
One of the greatest thinkers (384 - 322 BC) of ancient Greece. His philosophy concerning animals is still highly influential.
Head-dress, popularly called busbies, made from the pelage of bears shot in Canada and worn in the British army by the red tunic guards regiments.
A branch of psychology that completely deadened scientific research on animal minds until recently, claiming minds are not valid subjects for scientific research.
- Bentham, Jeremy
Lawyer and philosopher (1748 - 1832) noted for stating that the capacity for suffering is the essential characteristic entitling animals to equal consideration.
Chief mediators of thoughts, feelings and behaviours; we cannot fully understand our relationship to animals at least until we know what is going on in them.
The meat of wild animals killed for food and trade and a big opportunity for commercial profit over animal rights, welfare and conservation.
Trying to change society by persuading and motivating people to act for the better, as you see it.
The human treatment of chickens is a staggering moral depravity flying in the face of the Five Freedoms and a relative microcosm of inhumanity to animals.
- Civil Disobedience
A form of protest to act on your moral right and correct injustice. Citizens grant the state its authority and the citizen can oppose authority if compelled by conscience.
- Clever Hans
Clever Hans teaches us not to assign attributes to animals they do not possess, an important anthropomorphic lesson about animal-human relations.
Mental processes, eg thinking, learning, memorising, problem solving.
Consciousness might enable animals to behave flexibly by imagining the best outcomes. Animals would deserve moral consideration if conscious.
A theory that evaluates moral actions only by their consequences, and not according to doing one’s duty or by being a virtuous person.
A member of a species, eg two cats are conspecifics but a cat and a dog are not.
- Darwin & Natural Selection
Darwin's theory of natural selection shocked people that they are not made exclusively by God but are animals evolved from animals.
- Deep Ecology
Philosophical and practical guide opposing destruction of nature by materialism and consumerism; humanity must change its harmful ways or it will destroy life.
Deontology is a theory that evaluates moral actions based only on doing one’s duty, not on the consequences of the actions.
- Direct Action
Direct action, rejecting conventional slower means of social change, fights dynamically forcing adversaries to yield significant concessions.
- Equal Consideration of Interests
A moral principle asserting that we should give equal importance to the evaluation of the moral welfare of every individual.
The systematic study of morality. Ethics is sometimes (mis)used as a synonym for morality.
- Expanding the Circle
A metaphor meaning that humanity is enfolding more beings into its moral group as worthy of respect and moral consideration.
A measure of the number of genes passed on to posterity, eg King Solomon had hundreds of offspring and thus high fitness. Also called reproductive success.
A length of DNA responsible for passing on heritable characteristics from one generation to the next.
Instead of saying ’he’, ’she’ or ’it’ we should call humans and animals ’han’, a word meaning all three pronouns. It might encourage better treatment of animals.
Use the Internet to communicate to colleagues and win allies all over the globe. Its primary merits are that it is fast, ceaseless and relatively inexpensive.
A stake an animal has in fulfilling his life’s natural potential, eg longevity, health, reproduction.
- Intrinsic Value
The assumed worth something has in itself that is independent of its usefulness to anyone.
- The Law
Might law enforcement agents come down on animal activists? Virtually all animal rights activists have nothing to fear.
Producing and handing out eye-catching, informative flyers you can reach out to people and tell them what you have to say.
A democratic process, open to anyone, to communicate to the powerholders to do what you want them to do.
- Mass Extinction
We live in a mass extinction of life on Earth, a tragedy for animals, comparable to the mass extinction of the dinosaurs. Few people seem to know or care about it.
- Moral Agent
Someone who can recognise moral right from moral wrong and tries to behave morally right. Most human adults are moral agents. Contrast with moral patient.
- Moral Autonomy
Being able to reflect on the reasons for your actions and act for the moral good.
- Moral Consideration
Deliberation about a moral issue.
- Moralistic Fallacy
The mistaken belief that what is found in nature is morally good. “The strong survive; the weak perish” is not a moral issue.
Acting for the good of others. Sometimes used as a synonym for ethics.
- Moral Judgement
A decision about a moral issue.
- Moral Issue
A situation that should be resolved because it may be causing harm to sentient beings.
- Moral Patient
Someone not expected to be morally responsible for their actions. Babies, the severely mentally ill and animals are moral patients. Contrast with moral agent.
- Moral Status
Being worthy of moral consideration and moral rights.
- Natural Selection
A natural process that alters a trait. Blackbirds eat (select out) moths, but moths with effective camouflage may survive and pass on this character to their offspring.
- News Media
Develop your credibility and reputation with the news media. Make your stories newsworthy, ie original, with a new twist, or bubbling with human interest.
- Number Fallacy
The mistaken belief that because some creatures, eg foxes, coyotes, kangaroos, are numerous it is all right to kill them.
A legal protest, organised, peaceful and sometimes lively, outside a target’s premises to demand change, eg that a business stops selling foie gras.
A moral action we ought to take.
Protection or privilege based on moral, legal or practical consideration.
Ability to feel pleasure, pain and suffering. Animals, not plants, are sentient.
- Sixth Extinction
We live in a mass extinction, the sixth such massive extinction of life in Earth's history. This extinction is caused by a single animal species, humanity.
Italian, pronounced speh-chis-mo (like macho or machismo). A droll rendition of speciesism.
Prejudice in favour of your own species. Someone advocating speciesism is speciesist. Also see Specismo.
- Starting a Group
You can do many activities alone, but an animal rights group can sometimes be more effective than a soloist, eg members contribute complementary skills.
An ethical theory that says morality depends on each individual's opinion (as opposed to absolutism).
- Traffic Training
We have a moral duty to look after our pets. Motorists kill many cats every day yet it is simple to teach your cat to be weary of motor traffic.
Intimidation and violence, often against innocent people, to impel change in society. Some terrorists remain shady; society honours others.
A theory that states your action is morally right if it benefits the largest number of beings with the greatest good.
- Violence or Nonviolence
No one has weighed the efficacy of violence vs nonviolence to the satisfaction of all. Possibly the best overall course is to remain true to basic humane principles.
- Virtue Ethics
A theory that evaluates moral actions based on what a virtuous person should do, disregarding the consequences of the actions or the duty to carry them out.
The view that animals must suffer to satisfy human needs, but that we should protect animals from ‘needless’ suffering.
- Welfarism, New
The view that we must promote animal welfare as a short-term expedient, rather than go exclusively for the abolition of animal suffering as a long-term goal.
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