Inherent Value and Moral Rights

The Monist 70 (1):15-30 (1987)
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Abstract

In Chapter Seven of The Case for Animal Rights’ Tom Regan propounds and analyzes a concept of inherent value. He then argues that all humans and animals that satisfy what he calls the “subject-of-a-life criterion” have this kind of value and have it equally. In Chapter Eight of the book Regan draws a close connection between an individual’s having inherent value and its being a bearer of moral rights. I shall examine each of these points in turn in the first two sections of this paper. The third and last section will discuss some aspects of the relation between duties and rights. Although my investigations raise certain criticisms of Regan’s views I do not wish to give the impression that his book as a whole is unworthy of serious attention. On the contrary, it seems to me that the book presents the most convincing and best-argued position yet published on the moral duties humans have to animals. What is more, many parts of the book make significant advances on a broad range of more traditional problems in normative ethics, including those that concern human relationships alone.

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