Machan's Arguments Against Animal Rights

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One topic that many scholars are debating right now is the topic of animal rights. The questions are, on what basis are rights given, and do animals possess rights? Two prominent scholars, Tom Regan and Tibor Machan, each give compelling arguments about animal rights, Regan for them and Machan against them. Machan makes the sharp statement, “Animals have no rights need no liberation” (Machan, p. 480). This statement was made in direct opposition to Regan who says, “Reason compels us to recognize the equal inherent value of these animals and, with this, their equal right to be treated with respect” (Regan, p. 477). Machan believes he has the best theory explaining why animals do not have rights. He makes this claim by first acknowledging how…show more content…
It is argued then that because of this, do infants and the mentally-challenged not have rights either? While this is a plausible objection, it fails, because Machan’s argument doesn’t attribute rights to just moral agents, his argument attributes rights specifically to all humans. Machan constructs his argument on the basis that rights are attributed to species or kinds, not by individuals. He makes it clear that this is the correct way to attribute rights by his examination of nature’s hierarchy. He describes that kinds of things are what are judged on a similar basis. Humankind is the only kind judged on morality, therefore, rights must be attributed to all of humankind. It doesn’t make sense to attribute rights to individuals. No rational person would consider it fair to give some individuals of the same kind rights, and then deny those rights to others. Simply put, rights must be given on the basis of what kind something is, not an individual basis. This also leads to the widely accepted concept of natural rights. Natural rights guarantee rights to everyone based on the kind of thing they are and protect every individual of the same kind equally. Based on this, because humans are the only kind in nature which can logically possess rights, all humans are guaranteed rights, regardless of if they can exercise them or not. They possess these rights simply by being human. He even makes it clear that not all humans can or will act morally, but because they are humans, rights still apply to them. This objection to Machan clearly fails. Machan’s argument follows that of course groups like babies and the mentally challenged possess rights. They are human and, therefore, do have rights. One last extension to help understand this further is to consider these groups’ handicaps as if their
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