4 votes

A Libertarian Replies to Tibor Machan's 'Why Animal Rights Don't Exist'

A Libertarian Replies to Tibor Machan's 'Why Animal Rights Don't Exist'

by David Graham

I find it strange that so many of my fellow libertarians and anarchists oppose and ridicule animal rights with such passion. For one thing, an animal right is perfectly libertarian in that it is a negative right. Unlike incoherent positive rights, such as the 'right' to education or health care, the animal right is, at bottom, a right to be left alone. It does not call for government to tax us in order to provide animals with food, shelter, and veterinary care. It only requires us to stop killing them and making them suffer. I can think of no other issue where the libertarian is arguing for a positive right--his right to make animals submit to any use he sees--and the other side is arguing for a negative right!


BTW this article was found important enough to also be posted at the mises institute blog.

Trending on the Web

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Groundhog: Dont tread on me, I was here first.

Man meets a groundhog in the american midwest circa 1700. He realizes he cannot coax the groundhog to trade land. Respectful of property rights, he moves on to kill buffalo.

Great minds think alike...

"If all the beasts were gone, man would die from loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beast, happens to the man."
--Chief Seattle

"Until he extends the circle of compassion to all livings things, Man will not himself find peace."
--Albert Schweitzer

"He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals."
--Immanuel Kant

"A righteous man has regard for the life of his beast."
--Proverbs 12:10

"There is not an animal on the earth, nor a flying creature on two wings, but they are people like unto you."
--The Koran

"Animals share with us the privilege of having a soul."
--Pythagoras (philosopher and mathematician)

"The question is not, can they reason? Nor, can they talk? But can they suffer?"
--Jeremy Bentham

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."

"Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages."
--Thomas Edison (inventor)

"Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost." -John Quincy Adams

it would be refreshing

to read comments regarding the case Graham makes in his article
rather than everyone firing off their own ready made opinions. what of marginal cases for instance?
the comments at mises are so much different. you get a sense that the article has actually been read and considered before being commented on.

I am very much against animal

I am very much against animal torture it is one of the most immoral things a person can do in my opinion.

However, there is no basis in rights theory or the NAP to commit aggression against a human to defend an animal, unless animals have rights.

If an animal does not have rights, than using aggression against a human to defend the animal is an act of regulating human morality even when the human in question has not committed any aggression against other humans.

It is an act of violence not in self defense.


an animal, in this comment would refer to someone's dog, cat, horse, pig, goat, sheep etc is private property. You, they, he, she, it owns it. If the owner want to drive their car off a cliff, beat it, shoot it, etc its their right to. Personally I think outright psychotic animal abusers should be horse whipped, but not by the State. A concerned citizen say. I have personally shamed people into treating their animals properly. Most animal owners that appear abusive are in fact ignorant. So I educate them. If that doesn't work and they become belligerent and I can't accept what's happening I may take matters into my OWN hands. But I will NEVER report to the "lawdogs". Being a farrier and trainer I have seen some serious stupidity over the years and even wept as the thoughts kept creeping into my head of what I witnessed. Some of the worst being self-described "rescuers" that can barely take care of themselves.

Anyway all that being said: I don't differentiate between a non-human primate and a carrot. I respect all life equally and cringe when I see someone ripping a live carrot from the ground even while photosynthesis is still happening (exaggeration, sort of).

Seriously just because something has fur and big brown eyes doesn't give it anymore right to proper treatment/respect (according to human's faulty perspectives) than any other life-form or species.

God forgives always. Man forgives sometimes. But Nature never forgives.

This Is Idiocy Again

If dogs have "rights", then can dogs be sent to jail or trial if they bite another dog and violate it's rights? Do we have a trial for them? How do they communicate and offer testimony if someone or something violates their liberty and hurts their paw?


An animal has the following rights:

The right to be food
The right to pull a workload for humans
The right to be loved by a human if an individual chooses
The right not to be tortured
The right to die if it imposes on my right/need to eat or be safe

That's about it. Waste not want not.

One right animals had that I wish humans did

is the right to lethal injection when ill, or wherever you want really.
I would like to see the day where most humans rejected factory farmed government regulated food in favor of, grow it/hunt it yourself food.

The Right To Lethal injection

A civil liberty rarely discussed, because people would rather give unwanted "help" than acknowledge the human right to suicide.

"Bipartisan: both parties acting in concert to put both of their hands in your pocket."-Rothbard

I can't argue with any of that

Though many urban dwellers may be in a pickle if it came to that.