Environmental Philosophy

Volume 8, Issue 2, Fall 2011

Shane D. Courtland
Pages 23-46

Hobbesian Justification for Animal Rights

Hobbes’s political and ethical theories are rarely viewed as places by which those who protect the weak seek refuge. It would seem odd, then, to suggest that such a theory might be able to protect the weakest among us—non-human animals. In this paper, however, I will defend the possibility of a Hobbesian justification for animal rights. The Hobbesian response to the problem of compliance allows contractarianism to extend (at least some) normative protection to animals. Such protection, as I will argue, has a similar justificational foundation as the protection we offer other humans.