Articles and Books by the Nonhuman Rights Project


Steven M. Wise, Though the Heavens May Fall: The Landmark Trial That Led to the End of Human Slavery (de Capo Press 2005) (cover review, New York Times Book Review, January 9, 2005; reviewed New York Review of Books, July 14, 2005).

Steven M. Wise, Drawing the Line: Science and the Case for Animal Rights (Perseus Publishing 2002)(Unlocking the Cage: Science and the Case for Animal Rights in the UK).

Steven M. Wise, Rattling the Cage: Toward Legal Rights for Animals (Perseus Publishing 2000 US)(Profile Books, UK 2000)(called a “seminal work” by the Boston Globe (March 3, 2005); Time magazine observed, “(o)nce the domain of activists, animal law has steadily gained respect among law schools and legal scholars since 2000, when … Rattling the Cage provided an academic argument for granting legal rights to animals” (December 13, 2004).

Book Chapters

Steven M. Wise, “Entitling Nonhuman Animals to Fundamental Legal Rights on the Basis of Practical Autonomy” in Animals, Ethics, and Trade (Earthscan 2006).

Steven M. Wise, “Animal Rights, One Step at a Time” in Animal Rights: Current Debates and New Directions (Cass Sunstein and Martha Nussbaum, eds., Oxford University Press 2004).

Steven M. Wise, “A Great Shout – Breaking the Barriers to Legal Rights for Great Apes” in Great Apes and Humans – The Ethics of Coexistence (Smithsonian Press, 2001), reprinted in Animal Law (Clare Palmer, ed. The International Library on Rights, Ashgate Publishing, forthcoming 2008), and in The Animal Ethics Reader (Susan J. Armstrong and Richard G. Boltzler, eds. Routledge 2003).

Law Review Articles

Blake M. Mills and Steven M. Wise,The Writ De Homine Replegiando: A Common Law Path to Nonhuman Animal Rights, 25 Geo. Mason U. C.R. L.J. 159 (2015).

Steven M. Wise,Nonhuman Rights to Personhood, text of the Dyson Lecture published in the Pace Environmental Law Review, Vol. 30, Issue 3 (2013).

Steven M. Wise, “Legal Personhood and the Nonhuman Rights Project,” 17 Animal Law 1 (2010).

Steven M. Wise, Commentary, An Argument for the Basic Rights of Farmed Animals,” 106 Mich. L. Rev. First Impressions (2008).

Steven M. Wise, “Arguments in Favour of Basic Legal Rights for Nonhumans,” Reform (Australian Law Reform Commission March, 2008).

Steven M. Wise, “The entitlement of chimpanzees to the common law writs of habeas corpus and de homine replegiando to challenge their legal thinghood,” 37(2) Golden Gate Law Review 219 ( 2007).

Steven M. Wise, “Rattling the Cage Defended,” 43 Boston College Law Review 623 ( 2002).

Steven M. Wise, “Legal Status of Nonhuman Animals,” 8 Animal Law 1 (2002)(symposium participant).

Steven M. Wise, “Animal Thing to Animal Person – Thoughts on Time, Place, and Theories,” 5 Animal Law 59 (1999).

Steven M. Wise, “Hardly a Revolution – The Eligibility of Nonhuman Animals for Dignity Rights in a Liberal Democracy,” 22 Vermont Law Review 793 (1998).

Dr. Jane Goodall and Steven M. Wise, “Why Chimpanzees are Entitled to Fundamental Legal Rights,” Joint Presentation to Senior Lawyers Division of the American Bar Association, August 2, 1996, reprinted in 3 Animal Law 61 (1997).

Steven M. Wise, “Legal Rights for Nonhuman Animals: The Case for Chimpanzees and Bonobos,” 2 Animal Law 179 (1996).

Steven M. Wise, “The Legal Thinghood of Nonhuman Animals,” 23(2) Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review 471 (1996), reprinted in 3 Private Law Review (2003) and 4 Private Law Review (2004)(China University of Politics and Law Publishing).

Steven M. Wise, “How Nonhuman Animals Became Trapped in a Nonexistent Universe,” 1 Animal Law 15 (1995)

Encyclopedia Articles

Steven M. Wise, “Animal Rights,” Encyclopedia Britannica.

Selected Articles

Steven M. Wise, “Animal Rights, Animal Wrongs,” Foreign Affairs (April 28, 2015).

Steven M. Wise & Natalie Prosin, The Nonhuman Rights Project: Coming to a Country Near You,” (Global Journal of Animal Law, February 2014).

Steven M. Wise, “A Law for the Jungle,” Times Higher Education Supplement 18 (June 14, 2002)(UK).

Steven M. Wise, Why Animals Deserve Legal Rights” in Chronicle of Higher Education (February 2, 2001), reprinted in Contemporary Issues Companion: Animal Rights (CICAR)(Jesse Hallmark, ed. Gale Group 2004); Convergences (2nd. ed. 2004, Robert Atwan, ed. St. Martin’s 2004); Writing from Sources (Brenda Spatt, ed., St. Martin’s 2002) and America Now: Short Readings from Recent Periodicals (5th ed., Robert Atwan, ed. Bedford/St. Martin’s 2002)

13 Responses to “Publications”
  1. Siraganda says:

    I appreciate your organization and site so much, but I think animal rights belong to all animals, and not just chimpanzees! There is an awful cruelty case about monkeys which Peta is caring about for the moment, but with the GAP once passed, we cannot act anymore for small monkeys and any other animals: this would be the meanest form of speciesism!

    Thanks for consideration!


    • michaelm says:

      Thank you for your comment. However much we may agree with your sentiment, the fact is that, to date, no animal rights organization has succeeded in having any nonhuman animal recognized as having any legal right at all. Not one … zero.

      That’s why the Nonhuman Rights Project is approaching the whole issue in a different way – working through the common law to get the first (not the only, but the first) nonhuman recognized as a legal person with the capacity for appropriate legal rights. That’s how it has to begin.

      Indeed, that’s the way it began, 250 years ago, when people were working to secure legal rights for human slaves and bring an end to the whole institution of slavery in the Western world. It began by persuading one judge (Lord Mansfield) in one court that one slave (James Somerset) was a legal person who could not be held captive against his will. The victory in that case did not free all the slaves; it freed just one. But it laid the groundwork that eventually brought an end to the entire system of slavery.

      That’s why the NhRP is seeking the first, precedent-setting ruling in court … and then a second and a third. And eventually the very idea that humans are the only animals who can be considered legal persons with the capacity for specific legal rights will become history, too.

  2. Wendell says:

    I think this is a noble cause. Ever since Peter Singer published his famous utilitarian argument for animal rights in the 70s, this has been a greatly debated issue.

    My only concern is that all of your published materials on the site come from Steven Wise. Can’t you find some other work done on the issue that merits publishing on the site? Right now, it seems like all the eggs are in one basket. And while legal personhood may be a good argument, it fails to establish grounds for WHY non-humans merit legal personhood. Some serious work needs to go into these normative arguments if you want to appeal to people.

  3. JT says:

    I too appreciate your purpose, but have to agree with Wendell above. Everything is by Steven, and most from years ago. Only one law review since 2008. Jane Goodall was a supporter in a 1996 presentation, but where is she now? It makes me leery of donating. Would you please go into more depth on that? Thanks.

    • michaelm says:

      JT, Thanks for your question. The reason much of the legal material is by Steven Wise is that this truly is a unique project. No one else has set out to work through the common law in order to have nonhuman animals recognized as legal “persons.”

      I’m Michael Mountain, past President of Best Friends Animal Society, and now helping on the Nonhuman Rights Project. Of all the animal charities I could be helping when I stepped down from Best Friends, this one stood out to me because it deals with the fundamental status that all nonhumans have in our legal system — which is to say no status at all. And yes, that means that “animal rights” is something of a misnomer, since the animals have no rights at all. They have certain protections as a result of legislation, but that’s all. (And most animal law is entirely and exclusively to do with legislation, not fundamental rights.

      So when, for example, PETA went to court in San Diego to try to get some orcas freed from SeaWorld under the Thirteenth Amendment, they were on something of a fool’s errand. That’s because, as the judge quickly pointed out in his decision, the orcas had no legal standing since the attorneys didn’t even attempt to show that they were legal persons.

      In another case – this one to do with Billy the elephant at the Los Angeles Zoo – the attorneys mounted a much better case, and the judge agreed with them on basically everything, and castigated the zoo’s attorneys. He ordered better care for Billy and two other elephants, but made it clear that he could not have them sent to a sanctuary since they zoo “property” and he was bound by laws that relate to that.

      This is the fundamental barrier that we have to break through. And this is why we are breaking entirely new ground. (Just as was the case when the slave James Somerset went to court in England in 1772 and the judge Lord Mansfield declared him to be a legal person who could not be held as the property of another person.)

      In some of the videos here on the website, you can see Steven Wise in discussion and debate with other legal experts, and there are certainly dozens of attorneys and legal experts (as well as scientists, sociologists and others) who are helping to mount the first cases we’ll be bringing next year. But yes, most of the legal work in preparation for arguing to a judge that a particular nonhuman animal can, and should, be recognized as a legal person, is Prof. Wise’s work. He is the person most qualified to lay out the basics of this project and explain how the law works, and how we need to approach these cases.

      Thanks for asking!

  4. LA says:

    I am deeply excited about this project. I’m finishing up my undergrad in wildlife ethology and preparing for grad school. It has been challenging to study wildlife along side people that would intentionally inject a non-human animal NHA with cancer genes for research purposes, or cut off the toes to make it easier for them to identify which NHA they are observing, etc… The lack of creativity in scientific research is disturbing.

    Have you considered posting books that are not entirely about the law but about the emotional, empathetic, compassionate, intellegent lives of NHA? I have several on my bookshelf, and I think they could be helpful to people who may be considering donation but want to see more than one author, or to better understand how other animals are truly people.

    Keep up the good work. I will be following you.

    • michaelm says:

      Thank you for the comment. This page is simply a list of publications by Steven Wise and the NhRP. We do post interesting news about books etc. to the NhRP news pager or our Facebook page. If there are particular books related to personhood in NHA, please do write a brief summary and let us know. We may know about them already – but quite possibly not. Thanks!

  5. Kevin Storm says:

    Looking forward to the show today. I really appreciate your willingness to call in and discuss NhRP with my audience. The recorded show will be on

  6. Van Wallace says:

    I am so happy to learn about your project. It is so obvious to me, the personhood of other creatures who feel, think, feel emotion, desire freedom, fear pain and love others. Your project I am sure will one day succeed in its mission. Did you see that the Pope recently stated that animals have souls and go to heaven. Now if that isn’t enough to grant them personhood I don’t know what would be, maybe you folks. I will pray for your success and am happy to donate to your cause.
    Bestia es Populus Quoque

  7. Alain Dk says:èse_BenjaminDaboval.pdf?1416082137

    The thèse referenced supra is not founded on commun law. Nevertheless it could be interesting for your work. On the countrary, the question could be “why and when” did we take the decision to stop to considere animals as a person ? Seems one of the consideration was based on a fonctionalist approach. The “depersonalization was useful to destroy the culpability of using them without limit up to eat their meat, in a industrial point of vue.
    I saw your work on ARTE TV (French/Greman European TV – in Belgique-Bruxelles) this night. I like analyse and the utile way by witch you make poeple thinking. The law is also made to limit the domination of different kind of persons ( moral and physical ones) on other ones. Sorry that my English and juridical knowledges are too limited to make more precise commentaries.
    Good continuation.

  8. Joel Yanek says:

    Thank you for this important work you have embarked on. I hope your efforts are successful. I will do what I can to support your efforts. I was also wondering if you can tell me when the documentary “unlocking the cage” will be available to rent or purchase. Thank you again for your noble efforts and for being a needed voice for animals.

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