Animals as Property, Quasi-Property or Quasi-Person

Angela Fernandez

Faculty of Law & Department of History
University of Toronto

It is often said that there are only two available legal categories for nonhuman animals, property or person. Faced with this stark choice, judges, legislators, and members of the public will likely place them in the property category. This presentation proposes an in between quasi-hood status – quasi-property/quasi-personhood – that can be used to downplay the property-like qualities of nonhuman animals and augment their personhood-like ones. This status can be used for a large number of nonhuman animals, both as individuals and at a species level, as a kind of sliding scale, as human understanding and views of nonhuman animals and what we owe them change over time.

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