Aynimal Rights

Here’s a discussion on animal rights on the Leitmotif blog between Jim and I and an Ayn Rand Objectivist. It resulted in some really weird and wonderful stuff, but on boiling-down the prose the result is pretty much the same as it normally is. Here are a few snippets:

Ergo Says:
The faculty of volition is not our “rights-conferring” characteristic. We are moral beings because we have the faculty of volition, which means we are causal agents and face choices. Rights are a species of conceptual principles. By the nature of rights as moral principles, and by our human nature as moral beings, rights are applicable only to humans (all humans, including the disabled or the retarded).

Ergo Says:
The Objectivist approach is to always saliently acknowledge the fact that humans do not exist in a vacuum but in a reality that surrounds us and has a specific identity. Our actions are always in relation to the context of this reality around us. If this is acknowledged, then it becomes clear why rights are applicable and possible only to humans and not animals or any other species on Earth.

Ed Says:
If the faculty of volition is a characteristic so foundational to a mental life that any humans who lack it entirely are nothing but vegetables then it would seem undeniable that at least some animals have it. Of course, I agree with the idea that only humans can understand rights and consequentially only humans are moral-beings; just as it is only people who live in Germany who live in Berlin. But, of course, without affirming the consequent, it no more follows that at all humans are moral-beings than it does that all Germans are Berliners.

Enjoy, you lucky people.

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1 Response to “Aynimal Rights”


  1. 1 amit September 30, 2007 at 3:30 am

    I doubt if Ayn Rand ever read any results of animal behavior research (ethology) before writing her books. And some people even today, in their desire to call themselves “rationalists” seem to blithely ignore the fact that humans are animals too, and there are plenty of insights about other animals on this planet. What a hoot.


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