“The Rights of an Animal”

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Abstract

I AM sorry that my review appears to have caused Mr. Nicholson some annoyance, but am not surprised that in his rejoinder he has not attempted to meet any one of my criticisms. As he now expressly avoids the well-known ambiguity which attaches to the word “same,” he clearly avows his meaning to be what in my review I supposed it could not be, viz., that animals have “in all respects identical rights of life and liberty with man.” If this proposition is seriously stated, it does not require a “writer capable of reviewing an ethical essay” to see that it cannot possibly have a place in any such essay, properly so called. and in supposing that this could not be the fundamental proposition which Mr. Nicholson intended to maintain, I did not “forget” that the animals which he allows “to be killed or worked were only allowed to come into life for these purposes.” For if the rights of animals are identical with those of men, and if the breeding of animals for the purpose of killing them morally justifies the butcher in taking their lives, it certainly follows, for instance, that a physiologist would be morally justified in vivisecting his own children on the plea that it was for this purpose that he had begotten them. Where such is the necessary ethical conclusion, it is clear that the ethical premises by which it is evolved must be erroneous.

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ROMANES, G. “The Rights of an Animal”. Nature 20, 362 (1879) doi:10.1038/020362a0

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