Article Title

What is Animal Law?


This Article considers a critically important issue facing the new field of animal law: how to define animal law itself. Two sharply different general approaches to defining the area currently vie for support. One defines animal law as committed to advocacy on behalf of animals, including, for many proponents of this approach, promotion of animal rights. The competing approach defines animal law in a purely descriptive manner, as (roughly) the area of law that relates to animals, whatever substantive principles regarding animals the law may adopt. The Article demonstrates that advocacy-oriented definitions violate fundamental standards of definition and conflict with crucial aims and values of our legal system. The discussion argues in favor of descriptive definition of animal law, but explains why such a definition may be difficult to formulate. The Article maintains that a necessary first step in finding a satisfactory definition - and in motivating lawyers, law school faculty, and law students to pay sufficient attention to animal-related legal issues—is rejection of advocacy-oriented definitions of animal law.

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Animal Law Commons