TED Talks, Attorney Steven Wise on the Separation of Legal “Things” From Legal “Persons”
In this TED Talks, Steven Wise talks about the separation of legal “things” from legal “persons.” He argues that legal things don’t have legal rights or protections, they don’t count in the law, they don’t have the capacity for legal law, they are invisible to judges, and they are basically slaves. Animals are considered legal “things.” On the other side are legal persons, who have many rights, have the capacity for legal rights, they do count in law, and they are the considered the “masters.”
Steven Wise, President of the Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc., animal protection attorney for 30 years, and teacher of Animal Rights Jurisprudence at several law schools, argues that animals have moral capacity and consideration, have consciousness and are self aware, have emotions and feelings like humans, engage in symbolic culture and communication—and should have legal rights and protections similar to humans. He posits that it’s high time to rethink the way we treat animals—legally—and that it’s our moral duty to do so.
In 2013, he filed the first-ever series of lawsuits (writs of habeas corpus) in the state of New York for chimpanzees and elephants that were imprisoned and abused and forcibly confined to living in cages. The lawsuits are demanding limited personhood rights for these animals, and to remove and release them from forced confinement and place them into animal sanctuaries where they can enjoy their free will and live their their lives in a natural environment.
More about the Court Cases filed
Visit the website for Nonhuman Rights Project
See Unlocking The Cage documentary film about the legal cases
More about Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP)
The Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) is the only organization working through the common law to achieve actual LEGAL rights for members of species other than our own. Our mission is to change the common law status of at least some nonhuman animals from mere “things,” which lack the capacity to possess any legal right, to “persons,” who possess such fundamental rights as bodily integrity and bodily liberty, and those other legal rights to which evolving standards of morality, scientific discovery, and human experience entitle them.
About Steven Wise
Steven Wise, President of the Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc., holds a J.D. from Boston University Law School. He has practiced animal protection law for 30 years throughout the United States and is admitted to the Massachusetts Bar.
Steve teaches “Animal Rights Jurisprudence” at several law schools and is the author of four books: Rattling the Cage – Toward Legal Rights for Animals; Drawing the Line – Science and the Case for Animal Rights; Though the Heavens May Fall – The Landmark Trial That Led to the End of Human Slavery; and An American Trilogy – Death, Slavery, and Dominion Along the Banks of the Cape Fear River.
Speaker Steven Wise
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