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Animal Rights?


Which leads us into a strange situation. As Libertarians we recognize that anybody that is self-aware (and thus self-owned) has rights. Chimps seem to be self-aware and thus we must recognize (strange as it may seem) that they probably have rights!

But what about other species? Unlikely. Chimps are one of the most evolved ones and they seem to barely be there. Dolphins? Perhaps.

However, what interests us is that now we have a test to determine rights. Not only a would-be creature with rights must be self-aware, but it must be able to communicate this self-awareness to us for us to recognize its rights.

Which means that the minimum amount of intelligence required for an animal is such as to being able to be self-aware but also able to communicate with us.

This may seem though, but this is necessary because otherwise we would have no rules to determine if something has rights. If we would not demand those two conditions, we could as easily assign rights to prions as we do to humans!


What happens when we finally recognize that a certain species of animal has rights? Then we need to address those rights and Libertarianism is well suited to do so. As our credo is not to mess with other peoples’ (or species’) properties, this rule is all that is required to address animal rights. Basically, we don’t mess with them and this is sufficient.

However, what happens on the opposite direction? What happens when animals interact with our property without our agreement? Then we defer to the other rule: is an animal capable of understanding the principle of no-interactivity with other peoples’ properties without the owner’s consent? If the answer is yes, then they are liable for all their actions. If the answer is no, then they are not. However, in any case, this would not preclude people from limiting or preventing animals from interacting with their properties.

An animal must have sufficient intelligence to prove to us that it is self-aware. Below this limit, its intelligence is irrelevant and animals have no rights. Above this limit animal intelligence has nothing to do with animal rights, and everything to do with compensation for breaching Libertarian principles.

On the other hand, current laws and thinking link intelligence with anima rights. They operate on a sliding scale. Such-and-such animal is more intelligent therefore it is deserving of more rights. Such-and-such animal is less intelligent thus it deserves protection because of its place in the environment. This is nonsensical. Blending animal rights with the environment and linking it to intelligence and feelings (have you noticed how cuddly and furry animals are better protected by laws?) is creating confusion.


And what happens if we determine that a species of animals do not have rights. Then what? Well, then they are a thing, an object, a property subjected to the same property rules as any other property under a Libertarian system. This, again, is well within Libertarian principles because we, the human animals, are the property of ourselves. We, the human animals lead by example.


And so we come to the conclusion that animals may have rights, but they have to prove to us that they do. Until we reach that point, they don’t have any. Period. The interesting part of this conclusion is that it operates on a Libertarian basis. If you want something then you must be willing to pay the price and you are not allowed to force other people to do this work for you. You are not allowed to force other people to “respect” so-called “animal rights” through the convenient process of lobbying the government to do the dirty work for you.

If you are so convinced that animals are self-aware, then you must put your effort (and money) where your mouth is. Go and research animal communication. On your own time. With your own money. Remember, it is your project, not ours.

But then again, you may be an “animal right activist” and you are all for protecting furry little animals against the evil, evil acts of humans. Fair enough. Just one thing. If you interact with our property in any way without our consent, we will do the same with yours. And you won’t like it. That much we guarantee.

Note: please see the Glossary if you are unfamiliar with certain words.

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