Senz’anima: gli animali tra diritto e religioni

The focus of religious legal systems has traditionally been on human beings because they are endowed with a conscience, or a ‘soul,’ and are thus considered the recipients of the divine word. What then is the role of animals in religious law? State law has recently become aware of the need to protect animals both in an ecological sense as well as in consideration of the affective relationships between humans and certain animal species (namely, pets). Therefore, scholars are debating what sort of legal subjectivity to attribute to—at least some—animal species. One of the objectives of many religious denominations is the protection and promotion of ‘Creation’ as a tangible sign of the existence of God The protection of biodiversity is therefore a central element of numerous religious doctrines. Furthermore, animals are instrumental to the welfare of human beings and thus contribute to the eschatological purposes of religious legal systems. Some religious dietary rules, for example, impose restrictions on the faithful, limiting the consumption of animals in specific ways. An animal theology has been developed on these grounds. Moving from a historical foundation of religious precepts, religious orders affect the protection of animals in civil law by contributing to filling in the ‘mute parts’ of secular law, which is as silent—and deficient—on the subject as ever. This opens up a new challenge in the industrious osmotic relationship between denominational and secular orders in the creation of a system of rules that transforms animals from objects of mere possession to subjects of protection and promotion.

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