More than twenty years after its original publication, The Case for Animal Rights is an acknowledged classic of moral philosophy, and its author is recognized as the intellectual leader of the animal rights movement. In a new and fully considered preface, Regan responds to his critics and defends the book's revolutionary position.
Human moral rights place justified limits on what people are free to do to one another. Animals also have moral rights, and arguments to support the use of animals in scientific research based on the benefits allegedly derived from animal model research are thus invalid. Animals do not belong in laboratories because placing them there, in the hope of benefits for others, violates their rights.
Some feminist philosophers criticize the idea of human rights because, they allege, it encapsulates male bias; it is therefore misguided, in their view, to extend moral rights to non-human animals. I argue that the feminist criticism is misguided. Ideas are not biased in favour of men simply because they originate with men, nor are ideas themselves biased in favour of men because men have used them prejudicially. As for the position that women should abandon theories of rights and embrace an (...) ethic that emphasizes care: women who made this choice would not so much liberate themselves from the patriarchy as they would conform to its representation of women as emotional, subjective and irrational. There is, then, no good reason to withhold ascribing rights to non-human animals, based on the criticisms of rights made by some feminists. (shrink)
An argument for denying moral rights to nonhuman species is that beliefs, desires, and interests are inherent in the normal human capacity for speech and, since only humans are linguistically capable, only humans can have rights. We argue that linguistics and many conceptual abilities are ontogenetically independent in humans and that various morally relevant mental capacities can exist independently. We also then argue that phylogenetic independence is also possible and hence, that the concept of an inherent dependence of moral standing (...) on having linguistic capabilities is insufficient for denying rights to nonhumans. Keywords: ontogeny, phylogeny, linguistics, moral rights CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
A conception of an environmental ethic is set forth which involves postulating that nonconscious natural objects can have value in their own right, independently of human interests. Two kinds of objection are considered: (1) those that deny the possibility (the intelligibility) of developing an ethic ofthe environment that accepts this postulate, and (2) those.that deny the necessity of constructing such an ethic. Both types of objection are found wanting. The essay condudes with some tentative remarks regarding the notion of inherent (...) value. (shrink)
In this essay, I explore the moral foundations of the treatment of animals. Alternative views are critically examined, including (a) the Kantian account, which holds that our duties regarding animals are actually indirect duties to humanity; (b) the cruelty account, which holds that the idea of cruelty explains why it is wrong to treat animals in certain ways; and (c) the utilitarian account, which holds that the value of consequences for all sentient creatures explains our duties to animals. These views (...) are shown to be inadequate, the Kantian account because some of our duties regarding animals are direct duties to animals; the cruelty account because it confuses matters of motive or intent with the question of the rightness or wrongness of the agent’s actions; and the utilitarian account because it could be used to justifyidentifiable speciesistic practices. I defend a fourth view. Only if we postulate basic moral rights in the case of humans, can we satisfactorily account for why it is wrong to treat humans in certain ways, and it is only by postulating that these humans have inherent value that we can attribute to them basic moral rights. Consistency requires that we attribute this same kind of value to many animals. Their havinginherent value provides a similar basis for attributing certain basic moral rights to them, including the right not to be harmed. Possession of this right places the onus of justification on anyone who would harm these animals. I set forth conditions for such a justification which those who would abuse animals have failed to meet. (shrink)
I critically assess Don Marietta’s thesis that obligations are not dictates of reason but rather are imbedded in a person’s “world view.” The notion of “a view of the world” is both vague and leads to consequences common to all forms of subjectivism in ethics, since world views can and sometimes do vary from person to person. Marietta cannot avoid these consequences by arguing that some views of the world are “more reasonable” than others, since counting rationality as an appropriate (...) basis for choosing between world views is itself to favor a particular view of the world. Neither then can Marietta consistently argue for the preferability of a world view which grounds our obligations regarding the ecosystem in environnlental science. Given his general position, this can only tell us what he prefers, not whatis preferable. (shrink)
An argument is examined and defended for extending basic moral rights to animals which assumes that humans, including infants and the severely mentally enfeebled, have such rights. It is claimed that this argument proceeds on two fronts, one critical, where proposed criteria of right-possession are rejected, the other constructive, where proposed criteria are examined with a view to determining the most reasonable one. This form of argument is defended against the charge that it is self-defeating, various candidates for the title, (...) 'most reasonable criterion of right-possession', are critically examined, and it is argued that this criterion is to be found in the notion of inherent value: What underlies the ascription of rights to any given x is that x has value logically independently of anyone's valuing x; thus, to treat x as if x had value only if or as it served one's interests, etc., is to violate x 's rights. It is argued that many animals, owing to their being subjects of a life that is more or less valuable for them logically independently of the interests of others, can satisfy this criterion and therefore have certain basic moral rights, if humans, including the severely mentally enfeebled, do. Finally, the question, What basic moral rights do animals have? is explored. (shrink)
I contest michael fox's criticisms of my position regarding animal rights and our duties to animals on the grounds that he either misunderstands what my position is or, When it is understood, Raises objections that can be met. I also challenge the adequacy of fox's own account of the criteria of possessing basic moral rights.