Violence and animals : Moral considerations cencerning injustice, the perception of hierarchy and EU law

University essay from Stockholms universitet/Juridiska institutionen

Author: Emilia Hermanrud; [2013]

Keywords: Jurisprudence;



The EU is seen as having one of the most progressive approaches to

animals in the world by granting them the status of ‘sentient beings’ in

law. This paper discusses this moral status and its prospects within the

current legal system. Moral judgements, ideology and value-based assumptions

permeate the law. By bringing these to light the debate may be

broadened and roots to issues may be made more visible. The paper

suggests that it is mainly the entrenched perception of a hierarchy that

undermines attempts to progress the animal legal debate. The legislative

acceptance of this hierarchy also seems to legitimize violence where ‘acceptable’

violence is seen as relative to an individual’s status in society.

Chapter one presents the framework for EU laws pertaining to animals

and how acceptable violence towards them is determined. Chapter two

attempts to deconstruct the socially and legally accepted levels of violence

towards animals used for food by criticizing and challenging the

arguments given for using animals for this purpose. Chapter three presents

some aspects of contradictory human moral behavior towards

animals and how the construct of society might relate to this. Research

in psychology and ideological inclinations in EU actions are presented as

possible explanations for why the moral foundations of the laws remain

amorphous. Chapter four presents some practical obstacles in the way of

a fundamental shift in perception for society, followed by a discussion

concerning an alternative ethical route that recognizes animals as a powerless

group. The way forward is fraught with disagreement, but this paper

suggests that the direction is clear.

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