John Leland Supports James Madison

Animals and the Law


  1. Introduction (a distinction lost: example – use of language – lay/lie; being/thing)

    Our use of language used to reflect a difference between people and animals, such as:

            he/she – humans; it – animals

            being – humans; thing – animals

            lie – humans; lay – things/animals

    these distinctions have largely been lost as the legal differences have been ignored
  2. Lonang record.
    1. Humans and animals are legally different.

      1. Beings/Persons v. Things/Property (a difference in authority)
      2. People have dominion authority over animals.
      3. Animals as mere property.
    2. Animals are in subjection to, not equal with, humans.
      1. God gave animals no authority.
      2. God made animals afraid of humans.
      3. God gave animals as food for humans.
    3. Animals have no rights.
      1. Animals are not made in God’s image, thus animals have no soul, spirit or moral quality.
      2. God never granted them any authority nor imposed upon them any duty in the realm of human affairs.
      3. Animals, lacking any dominion authority, have no capacity to enter into a contract or agreement, thus, cannot receive any authority attempted to be voluntarily conferred.
  3. Historical view.
    1. ‘We do not speak of justice in the case of horses or lions,’ says Cicero in the first book of his treatise On Duties. Plutarch in his Life of Cato the Elder remarks: ‘We have been so constituted that we avail ourselves of law and justice only in respect to men.’ . . . If, however, a sense of justice is sometimes attributed to brute creatures, that is done without proper grounds, in consequence of observing in them a shadow or trace of reason. [Hugo Grotius, The Law of War and Peace (1625)].
    2. Brutes are sensitive beings, capable of, probably, as real degrees of physical pleasure and pain as ourselves. They are endowed with instinct which is, probably, a form of intellect inferior to our own, but which, being generically unlike to ours, we are unable to understand. They differ from us chiefly in being destitute of any moral faculty. We do not stand to them in the relation of equality. “Our right is paramount, and must extinguish theirs.” We have, therefore, a right to use them to promote our comfort, and may innocently take their life, if our necessities demand it. This right over them, is given to us by the revealed will of God But, inasmuch as they, like ourselves, are the creatures of God, we have no right to use them in any other manner than that which God has permitted. They, as much as ourselves, are under his protection. [Francis Wayland, Elements of Moral Science (1835).]
    3. Chattels personal are, properly and strictly speaking, things moveable; which may be annexed to or attendant on the person of the owner, and carried about with him from one part of the world to another. Such are animals . . .. [William Blackstone, Commentaries, Vol. 2.]
  4. Modern Laws.
    1. Cruelty to animals (stewardship; ‘humane’ treatment; moral duty; lab experiments)
    2. The rights of persons (property & inheritance; identity, etc.)
    3. Ecology – who has dominion over whom? Endangered species
  5. Animal rights? Equality of species? Evolutionary presuppositions.