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In defence of backyard chickens, Academia dot edu.pdf (287.04 kB)

In defence of backyard chickens

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-04-01, 15:44 authored by Bob Fischer, Josh MilburnJosh Milburn
Suppose that animals have rights. If so, may you go down to your local farm store, buy some chicks, raise them in your backyard, and eat their eggs? You wouldn’t think so. But we argue, to the contrary, that you may. Just as there are circumstances in which it’s permissible to liberate a slave, even if that means paying into a corrupt system, so there are circumstances in which it’s permissible to liberate chickens by buying them. Moreover, we contend that restrictions on freedom of movement can be appropriate for chickens, but not humans, because of the obvious differences between the interests of healthy, adult humans versus those of chickens who have been bred for human use. We also argue that egg consumption is permissible based on the plausible assumption that no one’s rights are violated in their consumption, and so while there may sometimes be morally preferable uses for eggs, you do nothing unjust in eating them. If we’re right, then the rights view doesn’t imply that veganism is obligatory; rather, it implies that the constraints on how we source animal products, though highly demanding, are not so demanding that they can’t be met.



  • Social Sciences and Humanities


  • International Relations, Politics and History

Published in

Journal of Applied Philosophy






108 - 123




  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

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© Society for Applied Philosophy

Publisher statement

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Fischer, B. and Milburn, J. (2019), In Defence of Backyard Chickens. J Appl Philos, 36: 108-123, which has been published in final form at https://doi.org/10.1111/japp.12291. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions. This article may not be enhanced, enriched or otherwise transformed into a derivative work, without express permission from Wiley or by statutory rights under applicable legislation. Copyright notices must not be removed, obscured or modified. The article must be linked to Wiley’s version of record on Wiley Online Library and any embedding, framing or otherwise making available the article or pages thereof by third parties from platforms, services and websites other than Wiley Online Library must be prohibited.

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Dr Josh Milburn. Deposit date: 28 March 2022

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