Moral Rights and Human Culture

Ethical Perspectives 13 (4):603-620 (2006)
In this paper I argue that there is no moral justification for the conviction that rights should be reserved to humans. In particular, I reject James Griffin’s view on the moral relevance of the cultural dimension of humanity. Drawing from the original notion of individual right introduced in the Middle Ages and the development of this notion in the eighteenth century, I emphasise that the practice of according rights is justified by the interest in safeguarding the powers of reason and autonomy that some individuals can exercise. Since we are in no position to rule out that non-humans can exercise these capacities, I conclude that rights should not be reserved to humans. This will lead to a reformulation of the reasons why so-called ‘marginal’ humans and non-human animals can be granted some basic rights. Being human is neither necessary nor sufficient for holding rights. All individuals, human or non-human, who can exercise reason and autonomy to some extent can be accorded basic rights in virtue of their having morally relevant preferences.
Keywords moral rights  nonhuman animals  preferences
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.2143/EP.13.4.2018711
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 23,201
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

68 ( #70,017 of 1,940,950 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

5 ( #197,835 of 1,940,950 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.