Suppose non-human animals have moral standing.
This is obviously a controversial supposition. My point here is not to debate it, but to treat it as a given, arguendo. If you want to debate it, I'm glad to do so at another time and in another post.
My question—and it is genuinely a question—is: how might this moral standing be reflected in the legal order of a stateless society?
At present, the state plays the role of half-hearted trustee on behalf of some non-human animals. Obviously, its doing so involves the same sorts of risks that are involved in any purportedly protective action by the state.
In a stateless society, it is often, and plausibly, suggested, property rights might well help to ensure the preservation of natural treasures like the Grand Canyon. And, even in an anarchist community with markets, these property rights could perfectly well be common. Similarly, more narrowly “environmental” concerns—effectively, battery and trespass concerns—could be aptly addressed by means of tort law.
But a crucial component of regarding non-human animals as having moral standing is denying that they are anyone's property. Clearly, though, they are most unlikely to be able to vindicate their own claims in any legal system, which means that others will need to act on their behalf. But those owners cannot, ex hypothesi, be their owners. Who might they be?
It is easy enough to imagine particular people being acknowledged in a given community as the trustees of non-human animals in that community, able to act on their behalf. But it is also, unfortunately, easy to imagine problems unavoidably associated with this sort of arrangement.
The trustees' interests would not be automatically aligned with those of the non-human animals they were expected to serve. They might easily opt to use their roles as putative protectors of the animals to advance their own.
What sorts of constraints might be built into the trustee model? What alternative models might be available? Your insights are welcome.