Nozick’s libertarian critique of Regan

Between the Species 21 (1) (2018)
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Abstract

Robert Nozick’s oft-quoted review of Tom Regan’s The Case for Animal Rights levels a range of challenges to Regan’s philosophy. Many commentators have focussed on Nozick’s putative defence of speciesism, but this has led to them overlooking other aspects of the critique. In this paper, I draw attention to two. First is Nozick’s criticism of Regan’s political theory, which is best understood relative to Nozick’s libertarianism. Nozick’s challenge invites the possibility of a libertarian account of animal rights – which is not as oxymoronic as it may first sound. Second is Nozick’s criticism of Regan’s axiological theory, which is best understood relative to Nozick’s own axiological inegalitarianism. While Nozick’s axiology has distasteful consequences, it should not be dismissed out-of-hand. Nozick’s challenges to Regan – and Nozick’s wider animal ethics – are rich and original, warranting attention from contemporary theorists for reasons beyond mere historical interest.

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Josh Milburn
Loughborough University

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Welcoming, Wild Animals, and Obligations to Assist.Josh Milburn - 2021 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 34 (6):1-20.

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