Animal Rights: Autonomy and Redundancy

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Abstract

Even if animal liberation were to be adopted, would rights for animals be redundant – or even deleterious? Such an objection, most prominently voiced by L. W. Sumner and Paul W. Taylor, is misguided, risks an anthropocentric and anthropomorphic conception of autonomy and freedom, overly agent-centered rights conceptions, and an overlooking of the likely harmful consequences of positing rights for humans but not for nonhuman animals. The objection in question also stems from an overly pessimistic construal of autonomy-infringements thought to result from extending rights to animals, and also, of confusions that supposedly may ensue from ascribing animal rights. Whether or not a case for animal liberation and/or animal rights can cogently be made, the redundancy-or-worse objection to animal rights need pose no barrier.