A Vindication of the Rights of Brutes

May 16, 2011 at 7:28 pm 2 comments

A Vindication of the Rights of Brutes,” Philosophy and Geography, 7:2 (2004), 261-266.

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The first defense of animal rights came in the form of a joke on human rights. As a reaction against the new ethics of the Enlightenment Thomas Taylor (1758-1835) ridiculed rights for men and women by arguing that these would eventually lead to the absurd idea of giving rights to brutes, and perhaps even plants and things. The idea of human rights should thus be abandoned. This article is revisiting this argument to address the question of whether granting moral status to animals, plants, and even landscapes eventually makes hard-won human rights into a joke.

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