For all creatures great and small

July 26, 1996

The paraphernalia of "rights" is distinctly human; animals - by definition non-human - can have no rights.

Roger Scruton is necessarily correct on this tautologous claim. However, this does not lead to the view that we can do what we will with animals provided we observe certain moral limitations and injunctions. This "moral position" enables Professor Scruton to justify some pretty horrendous practices, which are abhorrent not only to principled vegetarians, but also to deep-dyed carnivores.

Professor Scruton, as much as the proponents of animal rights, starts from the wrong premise: "whose" and "how many" rights are not the issue.

A half-way position always invites justification for the limit offered: why draw the line here, and not there? The real, indeed a metaphysical, question, is: what can justify any claim to having any right against an animal?

FRED NASH Politics, University of Southampton

Please login or register to read this article

Register to continue

Get a month's unlimited access to THE content online. Just register and complete your career summary.

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments