Categories: Animal Rights

Dr Jordan B Peterson on Twitter: “Animals don’t have rights”

Dr Jordan Peterson, a truly awesome philosopher with the biggest brain on the planet has tweeted that…

Animals don’t have rights. Rights are, by definition, reciprocal. People have responsibilities (to animals, as well). Terminology matters.

Animal rights.

I am not going to argue with him as that is impossible. But what does he mean when he says rights are by definition reciprocal and if that’s correct why can’t animals reciprocate?

Taking the latter point first I suppose for example cats can’t reciprocate because they are not in a position to grant human rights under the law but they can give us an awful lot of other benefits nonetheless. But why does that stop the government granting rights to all animals in an expanded constitution? I don’t think this is the point he is making.

By reciprocal he must mean that those receiving the rights must reciprocate and grant rights to those that they received the rights from. Perhaps he means that in the USA the constitution grants people rights and the citizens of America granted the right to their leaders to write the constitution. It is a give and take balance. This is the so called ‘social contract’. Citizens submit to the authority of their ‘rulers’ (politicians and law makers). In exchange they receive protection of their rights and social order. Animals are unable to enter into a social contract and therefore cannot possess rights. It is logical argument that Peterson is relying on.

If that is what he means I agree. But he might means something far more complicated and clever than that. It is interesting that in Europe there are regulations which in effect grant rights to animals. Rights such as freedom from hunger and thirst, pain, injury and disease etc.. How does Peterson square that with his point of view?

Peterson recognises that people have responsibilities to animals. In his tweet he did not specify them. But at a most fundamental level our responsibility towards all animals must be guided by our morals and ethics because they guide us in everything we do. They dictate the law in fact. Therefore I would suggest that Jordan Peterson would object to cat declawing for instance. He would object to chaining dogs up outside home all day and night. Utterly cruel and immoral, both of these human behaviours.

His tweet gathered a good number of comments. Many don’t get the reciprocal nature of rights and I understand the difficulty with it. But they refer to individuals granting rights to other individuals rather than states granting rights to all the citizens of a nation as described above.

Animals don’t have rights as humans have them but they have something akin to rights: the moral duty of humans to treat them with respect and decency.

SOME ARTICLES ON ANIMAL RIGHTS:

PETA’s Oscars 2019 (‘Oscats’) – Joaquin Phoenix best actor

Introduction Animal advocates have a duty to mention and praise high profile people who are passionate about animal welfare and ...
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No animal testing at the Canadian Centre for Alternatives to Animal Methods

I have to write about this. It is a research centre (CCAAM) which uses alternative methods to do research which ...
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Linda Rosenthal is a wonderful advocate for animal rights and welfare

This is a brief post in praise of Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal representing District 67 as a Democrat in the New ...
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Organs-on-chips: thank God, free the animals from laboratory testing

Organs-on-chips or organ-on-a-chip has the potential to dramatically reduce animal testing. If this comes to pass it will be a ...
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Senator votes AGAINST protecting aborted babies but FOR protecting kittens in animal testing

This is an interesting ethical dilemma, on the face of it. Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon voted against the introduction ...
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Moscow de-icer burns cat’s paws and poisons people

It is reported that de-icers and anti-snow chemicals used in Moscow take 1.3 billion years to dissolve! That's an extraordinary ...
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China: guy casually kicks stray cat into river (video)

Place and time: December 11 in the city of Shantou, on the eastern coast of Guangdong, China. It is watchable ...
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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in a many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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