Words make a difference, for as many people know and as philosophers have long observed, they can bewitch us. But words can also liberate us if we use them carefully. This glossary includes definitions from a variety of sources because so many people today want to not only participate but even to control the animal rights debate. So the entries below, whose source is identified if they come from someone other than the author, range from simple, commonsense definitions to agenda-driven definitions. The latter come from Liberation groups, government farm bureaus, veterinary associations, and even the Web site of a radical wing of today’s incredibly varied animal protection movement.
abolition “Total elimination, versus the reform, of some form of oppression, enslavement, or abuse.” (from the Web site of the Animal Liberation Front)
animal Two definitions are typically featured in dictionaries. The first and more general is usually the scientific definition, which includes humans as animals. The second is the more common but nonscientific use of “animals” to mean all other living beings, as in the phrase “humans and animals.”
animal law A field of legal education and scholarship around the world that first emerged in the 1970s.
animal rights Defined in a wide variety of ways, this term originally referred to the long-standing tradition that originated in religious traditions suggesting that each human should act in ways