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Animal Rights

Tech Paladin:

Animals can’t have rights because rights are (1) mutually agreed-upon societal constructions that are (2) understood by and enforceable against the bound parties. Not only are animals bereft of an empowered third party to enforce these hypothetical rights, but there isn’t even any type of mutual agreement that certain behavior is malicious and wrong in the first place! For example, humans believe that killing without provocation is wrong; animals don’t, and can’t, or else all the carnivores would starve.

13 Responses to “Animal Rights”

  1. Dan Says:

    I agree animals have no rights, even if this person’s understanding of rights is incorrect.

  2. bwm Says:

    For a very good analysis of animal rights see Section 21 of The Ethics of Liberty by Murray Rothbard.


    But the fundamental flaw in the theory of animal rights is more basic and far-reaching.1 For the assertion of human rights is not properly a simple emotive one; individuals possess rights not because we “feel” that they should, but because of a rational inquiry into the nature of man and the universe. In short, man has rights because they are natural rights. They are grounded in the nature of man: the individual man’s capacity for conscious choice, the necessity for him to use his mind and energy to adopt goals and values, to find out about the world, to pursue his ends in order to survive and prosper, his capacity and need to communicate and interact with other human beings and to participate in the division of labor. In short, man is a rational and social animal. No other animals or beings possess this ability to reason, to make conscious choices, to transform their environment in order to prosper, or to collaborate consciously in society and the division of labor.

    Thus, while natural rights, as we have been emphasizing, are absolute, there is one sense in which they are relative: they are relative to the species man. A rights-ethic for mankind is precisely that: for all men, regardless of race, creed, color or sex, but for the species man alone. The Biblical story was insightful to the effect that man was “given” or,—in natural law, we may say “has”—dominion over all the species of the earth. Natural law is necessarily species-bound.

  3. dustydog Says:

    The term “right” in the sense of natural rights has the same root as the “right” in right and wrong.

    In the 1700s, people earnestly debated whether it was right that the king owned everything and everybody, or whether it was right to overthrow a tyranny. It is right to speak freely, to own property, to pursue happiness. It is right that people receive due process. It is right to bear arms in self-defense.

    Most people think that torturing animals, or hunting and leaving the carcass to rot, is wrong. In that sense, there is a natural right that humans should be good stewards. Animals have the right not to be senselessly hurt or wasted. The local creek has the right to not have used motor oil poured in it.

  4. Guav Says:

    According to that definition of rights, the very young or mentally incapacitated have no rights either?

  5. SayUncle Says:

    Interesting question. They may not understand but they are bound and the parties will enforce against them (though we do make some exception, i guess, with insanity defenses and minors are charged differently).

  6. Kristopher Says:

    Herbivores will eat meat if they can get away with it … heh.

    As for rights for the young or mentally incapacitated … many cultures would not hesitated to kill by exposure unwanted infants.

    Rights for people is a cultural decision … not an “act of God”. The hand of God will not come out of the sky and punish you for killing people.

    I will ( and people who think like me ), be cause I think some basic human rights are worth going to the wall and putting my life at risk to defend.

  7. BWM Says:

    Rights for people is a cultural decision


  8. Sebastian-PGP Says:

    Putting aside the question of how you define rights, you can explain away the entire argument as irrelevant–humans DO have rights, and we also have responsibilities which include living up to the rule of law and being ethical people.

    People who abuse animals are generally engaging in anti-social behavior that displays a level of depravity contrary to the same common good that necessitates other laws and ethical codes that we all agree to live by.

    Just because an animal doesn’t have “rights” under whatever construction of right you care to pursue doesn’t mean you’re not a sick fuck who needs be admonished for your behavior if you do something onerous to an animal.

  9. Sebastian-PGP Says:

    IOW, “animal rights” is really a misnomer–it’s not about the animal, it’s about the person and whether or not we can reasonably apply an ethical standard to your behavior.

  10. Ach Says:

    Wow, I can’t believe I actually agree with Sebastian-PGP on something. =) You stated my understand on the matter extraordinarily well:

    “IOW, “animal rights” is really a misnomer–it’s not about the animal, it’s about the person and whether or not we can reasonably apply an ethical standard to your behavior.”

    Whether and which ethical standards translate into civil or criminal law is a whole ‘nother question…

  11. Standard Mischief Says:

    +1 on Dan

  12. ModlCitzn Says:

    the author of the original post has no conception of natural rights, but BWM correctly cited Rothbard as a good definition. The original post was more about contractual provisions, which animals cannot be a signatory to because they have no agency and have no conception of property rights. This is similar to a non-mature/able adult.

    Wow I just reread it and the logic is baseless. What about humans killing without provocation? We kill animals all the time without provocation. We kill humans all the time without provocation and call it collateral damage in war.
    His argument is pretty nonsensical.

  13. Taylor Says:

    Here’s a libertarian argument in favor of animal rights: