As I contemplated how to answer the question “What do people need to know?” about the important but controversial notion of animal rights, I considered three things. First, I thought of the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of conversations on this topic that I have had with people in ordinary walks of life from all over the world. These have helped me appreciate the great variety of views on this topic.
Second, I thought about what I had learned during several decades of studying animal topics in various educational contexts. I spent years in Oxford, England, studying the academic side of various issues, and I then spent a decade teaching in a veterinary school. At about the same time, I taught the subject of “animal law” at some of my country’s best law schools. I also had the privilege of lecturing at dozens of universities and law schools as well as in public conferences, before thousands of people.
Third, I looked at hundreds of books, printed articles and Web sites that used the phrase “animal rights” because I wanted to see whether people were talking to—or past—one another.
Based on all of this background and research, I came to the conclusion that the following issues are the most important ones, and thus “what everyone needs to know,” about animal rights.
Animal rights is an ancient topic that recently has taken a special twist. The phrase “animal rights” has been, and still is, employed most often to describe moral rights and social values