23 B. C. Envtl. Aff. L. Rev. 471 (1995-1996)
The Legal Thinghood of Nonhuman Animals

handle is hein.journals/bcenv23 and id is 481 raw text is: THE LEGAL THINGHOOD OF NONHUMAN ANIMALS
Steven M. Wise*
I. INTRODUCTION
The first article in this series of five explained how the ancient
Greek, Roman, and Hebrew worlds embraced the idea that the uni-
verse had been divinely designed in a Great Chain of Being' for the
benefit of human beings.2 This human-centered construct both justified
and motivated the human domination of every earthly creature.3 This
idea of a Great Chain of Being produced, and for centuries reinforced,
Western secular and ecclesiastical societies that were preoccupied
with notions of hierarchy that formally reached their political zenith
in feudalism, but explicitly continued to shape Western human politi-
cal relationships into the eighteenth century.4 The Great Chain of
Being exerts a more subtle, yet palpable, authority upon the way in
* Steven M. Wise, President, Center for the Expansion of Fundamental Rights, Inc., Boston,
Massachusetts; Adjunct Professor, Vermont Law School (teaching Animal Rights Law since
1990). The author gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the Animal Legal Defense
Fund and the consistently helpful criticisms by Debra J. Slater-Wise and Dean David Favre.
'The Great Chain of Being was a linear and immutable hierarchy of every entity that existed
or could exist in the universe. It was the most widely familiar Western conception of how this
universe was organized from Hellenic Greece to the 19th century.
2 This is the second article in a series of five by the author whose overall purpose is to explain
why fundamental legal rights need not be restricted to human beings and why a handful of
rights that protect fundamental interests of human beings also should protect the fundamental
interests of such nonhuman animals as chimpanzees and bonobos.
3 Steven M. Wise, How Nonhuman Animals Were Trapped in a Nonexistent Universe, 1
ANmIAL L. 15, 17-18 (1995). The name given to this idea is teleological anthropocentrism
4 ARTiuR 0. LovFoY, THE GREAT CHAIN OF BEING-A STUDY OF THE HISTORY OF AN
IDEA 205-07 (Harper Torchbook, 1st ed. 1960) (1936); DOUGLAS RAE, EQuALrrIEs 159 n.21
(1981); Paul E. Sigmund, Hierarchy, Equality, and Consent in Medieval Christian Thought, in
NoMos IX 134-37 (J. Roland Pennock & John W. Chapman eds., Atherton Press 1967). Hierar-
chy, and not equality, remains a central theme in Chinese, Japanese, and Indian societies. SURYA
471

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