Including the non-humans in the political community

If dignity is the right to have rights, then what is the basis for according rights to non-humans? There has been a long tradition in common law of recognizing the rights of non-humans including animals and, increasingly, of other natural elements including rivers (Colombia, New Zealand) and ecosystems (India, Colombia). On the other hand, non-human but human-created elements, from corporate entities to robots, are also being accorded constitutional and other types of rights. This presentation explores whether our anthropocentric notions of dignity justify the recognition of rights of non-humans or if the common understanding of dignity—as immanent in the human person – needs to be adjusted to conform with the recognition of the rights of others. Ultimately, this presentation will ask whether and if so on what basis non-humans are entitled to admission in the political community.