Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 259–273 | Cite as

Animal Rights: Autonomy and Redundancy

  • David Sztybel


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.

animal liberation animals anthropocentrism anthropomorphism autonomy ethics rights utilitarianism 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Moore, G. E., Principia Ethica (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1903).Google Scholar
  2. Pluhar, E. B., Beyond Prejudice: The Moral Significance of Human and Nonhuman Animals (Duke University Press, Durham, 1995).Google Scholar
  3. Regan, T., The Case for Animal Rights (University of California Press, Los Angeles, 1983).Google Scholar
  4. Rollin, B. E., Animal Rights and Human Morality, 2d ed. (Prometheus Books, Buffalo, 1992).Google Scholar
  5. Singer, P., “Animal Liberation or Animal Rights?” Monist 70 (January 1987), 3-14.Google Scholar
  6. Singer, P., Practical Ethics, 2d ed. (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1993).Google Scholar
  7. Sumner, L. W., “Animal Welfare and Animal Rights,” Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 13 (May 1988), 159-175.Google Scholar
  8. Sumner, L. W., The Moral Foundation of Rights (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1987).Google Scholar
  9. Sztybel, D., “Taking Humanism Seriously: ‘Obligatory Anthropocentrism’,” Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 13(3/4) (2000), 181-203.Google Scholar
  10. Taylor, P. W., Respect for Nature: A Theory of Environmental Ethics (Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1986).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Sztybel
    • 1
  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

Personalised recommendations