Faculty Research

Several Chicago faculty members are involved in research relating to the law as it pertains to animals. Below are some of the projects that have been undertaken within the Animal Law Policy Initiative.

Animal Rights Without Controversy

by Jeff Leslie and Cass R. Sunstein, 70 Law & Contemp. Probs. 117 (Winter 2007)

Many consumers would be willing to pay something to reduce the suffering of animals used as food. Unfortunately, they do not and cannot, because existing markets do not disclose the relevant treatment of animals, even though that treatment would trouble many consumers. Steps should be taken to promote disclosure so as to fortify market processes and to promote democratic discussion of the treatment of animals. In the context of animal welfare, a serious problem is that people's practices ensure outcomes that defy their existing moral commitments. A disclosure regime could improve animal welfare without making it necessary to resolve the most deeply contested questions in this domain.

Related links:

  • Video of Jeff Leslie presenting as part of a panel on "Animal Agriculture and the Law" at Duke University
  • Brittanica.com interview with Jeff Leslie on the Animal Law Policy Initiative (then called the Chicago Project on Animal Treatment Principles)
  • Cass Sunstein's post on the Faculty Blog

Animal Rights: Current Debates and New Directions

Edited by Cass R. Sunstein and Martha C. Nussbaum (Oxford: 2005)

Millions of people live with cats, dogs, and other pets, which they treat as members of their families. But through their daily behavior, people who love those pets, and greatly care about their welfare, help ensure short and painful lives for millions, even billions of animals that cannot easily be distinguished from dogs and cats.

Today, the overwhelming percentage of animals with whom Westerners interact are raised for food. Countless animals endure lives of relentless misery and die often torturous deaths. The use of animals by human beings, often for important human purposes, has forced uncomfortable questions to center stage: Should people change their behavior? Should the law promote animal welfare? Should animals have legal rights? Should animals continue to be counted as "property"? What reforms make sense?

Cass Sunstein and Martha Nussbaum bring together an all-star cast of contributors to explore the legal and political issues that underlie the campaign for animal rights and the opposition to it. Addressing ethical questions about ownership, protection against unjustified suffering, and the ability of animals to make their own choices free from human control, the authors offer numerous different perspectives on animal rights and animal welfare. They show that whatever one's ultimate conclusions, the relationship between human beings and nonhuman animals is being fundamentally rethought.

2004 Conference

A conference held in October 2004 in order to kick off what was then called the Chicago Project on Animal Treatment Principles drew to the Law School scholars and industry representatives interested in this emerging area. The conference addressed current practices and future directions in the development of best practices in animal husbandry and slaughter; labeling initiatives; and programs for auditing, inspecting and monitoring firms' compliance with existing animal welfare guidelines.

Related links: