Animal Rights

Animal rights refers to a broad category of ideas that wishes to raise the moral status of animals beyond current levels. It is distinguished from animal welfare in that animal welfare is relatively unconcerned with human treatment of animals so long as they are treated humanely and without being caused unnecessary pain.

Animal rights views animal life as having an intrinsic value which supersedes the mere avoidance of unnecessary pain. Rather, in the eyes of animal rights advocates, certain rights currently only assigned to humans (e.g., the right to life) should be extended to non-human animals as well.

Day-old broiler chicks arrive at a commercial operation raising chickens for meat.

Scope and Aim

This work will focus itself on providing a detailed yet concise report on the concept of animal rights. Rather than providing a set of articles in encyclopedic format of the animal rights movement, the book will focus on defining what the concept of animal rights is, the implications of adopting it, and the reasons for (and against) such adoption.

The book is divided into four main parts:

  1. The Moral Status of Animals
  2. The Realities of Animal Life
  3. Vegetarianism/Veganism
  4. Beyond Speciesism: A Social Theory

The first part is dedicated to an understanding of the arguments for why we should extend moral consideration to non-human animals*, and why we should undo any prejudice against such an extension (speciesism). The second chapter deals with animal cognition, the conditions of factory farming, animal experimentation, use of animals in entertainment, etc. The third is an exploration of vegetarianism (nutrition facts, the process of becoming vegetarian, etc.). The final chapter is devoted to understand how speciesism can be eradicated within a broader social context; the method of analysis will attempt to parallel those used within feminist and anti-racist sociological writings.

*Note that for convenience the term 'animal' is often used in place of 'non-human animal'.

Research methodology

The research for this project will be divided into 4 sections, each corresponding with the 4 parts of the book.

  1. Firstly, a general overview of some major philosophical works on animal rights. The two most important books will most likely be Animal Liberation by P. Singer and The Case For Animal Rights by Tom Regan. Both authors and their works will be major figures in this stage of research.
  2. Secondly, an overview of animal cognition, the conditions of factory farming, and agriculture. This will be the most intensive period of research and will require much peer review/fact checking.
  3. Third, an overview of vegetarianism. Many vegetarian/vegan blogs and websites exist, and any recipes found while creating this section will likely be added to the Wikibooks cookbook.
  4. Fourth, an examination of the similarities between speciesism and other forms of prejudice (sexism, racism, homophobia, etc.) and how it can be deconstructed.


The project will begin on October 1, 2010. The current writer hopes to have finished an anthology of philosophical writings on animal rights by December 31, 2010. During and after this period, the author will work on the section entitled "The Moral Status of Animals". The first draft is due to be finished by January 2011.

Other work will be decided upon as preliminary research is conducted.

Project guidelines

  • Maintain an objective point of view: focus on a balanced presentation of both supporting and detracting arguments.
  • Establish rigorous definitions and explanations of individual arguments, facts, and theories.
  • Source all writing sufficiently.
  • To avoid overlap of work, use the discussion page to determine which members will handle certain sections.
  • Any changes that one feels are unwarranted, wrongly done, etc. should be talked about on the discussion page.


  1. Introduction
  2. The Moral Status of Animals
  3. The Treatment of Animals in Agriculture
  4. Vegetarianism/Veganism
  5. Beyond Speciesism: A Social Theory
  6. Arguments Against Animal Rights
  7. Conclusion
  8. Additional Resources
  9. References