The “interests” of natural objects

Environmental Ethics 2 (2):163-171 (1980)
Abstract
Christopher D. Stone has claimed that natural objects can and should have rights. I accept Stone’s premise that the possession of rights is tied to the possession of interests; however, I argue that the concept of a natural object needs a more careful analysis than is given by Stone. Not everything that Stone calls a natural object is an object “naturally.” Some must be taken as artificial rather than as natural. Thistype of object cannot be said to have intrinsic interests and hence cannot be given rights that can protect “its own sake”-which is the sort of right that Stone focuses on. Further, there are other sorts of natural objects which, although they are objects “naturally,” cannot meaningfully be said to have intrinsic interests, and thus cannot have the sorts of rights that Stone is concerned with. Finally, there are other sorts of natural objects which are objects naturally and which have intrinsic interests, but which are not proper candidates for the possession of rights. The prerequisites for being “owed” rights are the possession of intrinsic interests and the capability to suffer when those interests are interfered with or denied or threatened
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