[Thesis]. Manchester, UK: The University of Manchester; 2012.
This thesis addresses the moral permissibility of illegal acts of animal liberation
in the form of civil disobedience, acts of rescue, and acts of sabotage. Animal liberation
movements have been the subject of much media and political attention, with particular
focus on use liberationist strategies of intimidation, vandalism, and harassment.
Governments have mobilised state apparatus in surveillance, infiltration, and investigation,
and have characterising radical activism as ‘terrorism’. The variety of illegal activities
aimed at preventing harm to non-human animals, particularly those involving violence
towards property or persons, have often been classified together under the term 'animal
liberation' and assumed to be wrong. I argue that the assumption of wrongness is questionable
because it fails to give significant weight to the justification for acts of animal
liberation. I pose the question as to whether and what illegal practices of animal
liberation are ethically justifiable. I begin by arguing that non-human animals are
worthy of moral consideration for their own sake, because their sentience above a
basic level, particularly their capacity to suffer, gives moral agents reasons to
acknowledge and respect their goods. Following this, I defend the claim that liberal
democratic states that fail to treat animals living within them with respect are unjust.
This injustice provides a justification for civil disobedience on behalf of non-human
animals. Following this, I argue that beings worthy of moral consideration are owed
positive duties of aid and easy rescue and I extend third-party intervention theory
to non-human animals under threat from humans. I explore the limits to the duties
of aid and intervention, using principles drawn from those of humanitarian intervention
to identify duty bearers, and I weigh those duties against duties to fellow citizens
and the state.