Here are two recent additions to SSRN on the rights and interests of non-human animals. The first is just an abstract (unless you have a subscription to HCR and download it there), the other a draft version:
"A Status Elevation for Great Apes"
HASTINGS CENTER REPORT, Mar.-Apr. 2012
REBECCA DRESSER, Washington University in Saint Louis - School of Law
The ethical case for changing the way we treat nonhuman animals is gaining ground. Two federal policy developments last year are evidence that United States officials are responding to arguments for elevating the moral and legal status of certain species: chimpanzees, gorillas, and other great apes. The policy actions show that society is beginning to see these species, our closest nonhuman relatives, as less like property and more like beings entitled to respect and protection. The key question is whether these steps are the beginning of a more general trend. Will humans move toward conferring higher moral status on other nonhuman species?
"Primitive Self-Consciousness and Avian Cognition"
The Monist, Volume 95, Issue 3, July 2012.
ANDY LAMEY, Monash University
This is an uncorrected author's draft of a paper published in The Monist issue on neuroethics, Volume 95, Issue 3 (July 2012). For citation and quoting purposes, please use the published version.
Recent work in moral theory has seen the refinement of theories of moral standing, which increasingly recognize a position of intermediate standing between fully self-conscious entities and those which are merely conscious. Among the most sophisticated concepts now used to denote such intermediate standing is that of primitive self-consciousness, which has been used to more precisely elucidate the moral standing of human newborns. New research into the structure of the avian brain offers a revised view of the cognitive abilities of birds. When this research is approached with a species-specific focus, it appears likely that one familiar species, the chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus), also exhibits primitive self-consciousness. Given the likelihood that they are primitively self-consciousness, chickens warrant a degree of moral standing that falls short of that enjoyed by persons, but which exceeds the minimal standing of merely conscious entities.