Aristotle and Animal Law: The Case for Habeas Corpus for Animals

3 Pages Posted: 30 Dec 2017

Date Written: December 21, 2017


This article argues that ontologically, the right to habeas corpus comes from an ability to have a cognitive capacity. This is not intended as a scientific journal. Arguments have been made for theoretical and philosophical basses for animal rights — as well as philosophical natural rights in general. Aristotle has provided a foundation for analyzing the nature of rights.

The definition of the soul Aristotle has three levels to the soul. This theory of Aristotle’s soul is not novel, it has influenced thinkers from pre-Christian times to even to being featured in the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade regarding abortion rights. first level is the nutritive aspect of the soul that includes plants. The locomotive aspect of the soul distinguishes animals from plants. The rational part of the soul distinguishes humans and animals. This is the key part of the soul for humans. One example of the rational aspect of the soul comes from the ability of speech. Regarding humans and the soul, Aristotle writes, “The proper function of man, then, consists in an activity of the soul in conformity with a rational principle or, at least, not without it. In speaking of the proper function of a given individual we mean that it is the same in kind as the function of an individual who sets high standards for himself.” However, it is true that many animals partake in this part of the soul.

In that case, animals and humans should be afforded habeas corpus rights. Partaking in the locomotive and rational part of the soul should grant rights, such as habeas corpus.

Suggested Citation

Lincoln IV, Charles Edward Andrew, Aristotle and Animal Law: The Case for Habeas Corpus for Animals (December 21, 2017). Available at SSRN:

Charles Edward Andrew Lincoln IV (Contact Author)

University of Groningen, Faculty of Law ( email )


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