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Human Rights and the Rights of Nature

Thomas Sieger Derr


With human rights issues increasingly in the news (the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration, the Pinochet case, and more), we have seen a renewed interest in extending the concept of rights to nonhuman entities. Despite the wellestablished hesitation or even skepticism about this extensionism in the writings of many environmental philosophers, there is an almost casual acceptance of the idea among many others, and an assumption that it must be the next and obvious step for the enlightened mind to take. This essay goes in the opposite direction, examining the arguments for human rights and denying their applicability beyond humanity. Nor do I think rights, within the usual meaning of the word, can be secured for nonhuman entities by any other route.

Thomas Sieger Derr, "Human Rights and the Rights of Nature," Journal of Markets & Morality 3, no. 2 (Fall 2000): 173-189

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