Second wave animal ethics and (global) animal law: a view from the margins

Iyan Offor

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1 Citation (Scopus)
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Animal law and animal law studies both suffer from shortcomings in their underlying ethics. For the most part, (global) animal law draws from utilitarian welfarism and rights-based approaches to animals. Animal law academics have, thus far, paid little attention to more critical animal ethical studies, although these hold great potential for improving the justness and effectiveness of animal law. This article proposes delineating a ‘second wave of animal ethics’ consisting of a number of critical ethical lenses that are capable of addressing four key shortcomings in ‘first wave animal ethics’. This article draws particularly on feminist, posthumanist and earth jurisprudence studies to draw out four key lessons. First, the need to stop assuming that animals only deserve moral and legal consideration if they are like humans, and instead to accept, celebrate, reward and legally protect difference. Second, the need to stop assuming that moral and legal considerations should extend to animals and no further. Third, the need to stop over-relying on liberal concepts like rights and start engaging with (intersectionally) marginalized communities to theorize viable alternative paradigms that might work better for animals. Fourth, the need to stop assuming that animal ethics need to be the same everywhere. In making this argument, this article intends to inspire further research on ‘second wave animal ethics’ ideas amongst animal law scholars.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)268-296
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Human Rights and the Environment
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2020


  • animal rights
  • animal welfare
  • animal ethics
  • global animal law
  • posthumanist ethics
  • feminist animal ethics
  • intersectionality
  • animal law


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