Montreal Declaration on Animal Exploitation

At the initiative of Martin GibertValéry Giroux and François Jaquet, three GRÉEA members, the Montreal Declaration on Animal Exploitation was signed by almost 550 academics from some 40 countries who specialize in moral and political philosophy.

“We condemn all practices that involve treating animals as things or commodities. To the extent that it involves unnecessary violence and harm, we declare that animal exploitation is unjust and morally indefensible.”

This statement ethically echoes the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness, ruling that “converging evidence indicates that non-human animals possess the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states as well as the capacity to engage in intentional behavior.”

The signatories state that the main arguments used to support animal exploitation do not have the relevance required to justify it morally. This is particularly true of arguments based on the sophisticated cognitive abilities of humans.

“An individual’s ability to compose symphonies, to make advanced mathematical calculations, or to project into the distant future, however admirable, does not affect the consideration due to his or her interest in experiencing pleasure and freedom from pain. The interests of the more intelligent among us are not more important than the equivalent interests of the less intelligent. To hold otherwise would be to rank individuals according to a faculty that has no moral relevance.”

Although their work is rooted in diverse philosophical traditions, these scholars thus agree on the condemnation of speciesism and the need to profoundly transform our relationships with other animals by ending their exploitation. Such a position, once held by a few people particularly sensitive to the fate of animals, is now supported for the first time by hundreds of researchers who have dedicated their careers to ethical reflection.

The signatories are in favor of closing down slaughterhouses, ending fishing and developing plant-based agriculture, but they admit lucidly that, even if it is “the only collective horizon that is both realistic and just,” such a project will require “abandoning deep-seated speciesist habits and profoundly transforming some of our institutions.

In 2022, the Montreal Declaration on Animal Exploitation is certainly a milestone in the philosophically supported recognition of non-human animals.

If you are a researcher in moral or political philosophy, you can sign the Declaration here.

List of signatories.