Why Animals Have an Interest in Freedom

Historical Social Research 40 (4):92-109 (2015)
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Do non-human animals have an interest in sociopolitical freedom? Cochrane has recently taken up this important yet largely neglected quest ion. He argues that animal freedom is not a relevant moral concern in itself, because animals have a merely instrumental but not an intrinsic interest in freedom (Cochrane 2009a, 2012). This paper will argue that even if animals have a merely instrumental interest in freedom, animal freedom should nonetheless be an important goal for our relationships with animals. Drawing on recent work on the value of freedom, it will be argued that freedom is non-specifically instrumentally valuable. Accordingly, freedom is a means to other goods, but often it is not possible to identify those goods in advance or aim for them directly. Some of the reasons that make freedom non-specifically valuable for human relationships, it will be argued, also apply to relationships between humans and animals. Amongst other implications, it will be shown how this argument provides a response to those who fear that stricter animal protection policies might undermine people’s freedom: A concern for freedom actually requires stricter protection policies rather than speak against them.

Author's Profile

Andreas T. Schmidt
University of Groningen


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