Front Page Titles (by Subject) Animal Rights - Literature of Liberty, Spring 1981, vol. 4, No. 1
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Animal Rights - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, Spring 1981, vol. 4, No. 1 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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“On Assigning Rights to Animals and Nature.” Environmental Ethics 2(Spring 1980):67–71.
Richard A. Watson has argued that most animals do not have intrinsic or primary rights such as the rights to existence and to freedom from unnecessary suffering. To have such rights, Watson claims, a living entity must be a “moral agent,” that is, it must possess self-consciousness, a free will, and whatever else is required to fulfill reciprocal duties in a self-conscious manner. Povilitis dissents and suggests (1) that Watson's “reciprocity framework is overly anthroprocentric in holding pre-eminent only those evolutionary features that appear to be unique” to the human species; that Watson's framework is based on an incorrect assumption that the Golden Rule refers to mutual rather than individual duties; and (3) that Watson arbitrarily identifies moral rights with primary rights.
Moreover, since “intrinsic” rights are virtually assigned rights, the assigning of rights to an entity corresponds to its perceived value. Thus Watson chooses “Cartesian values” in assigning rights by his very act of emphasizing differences between man and nonhuman animals. Conversely, the ecological and evolutionary relatedness of living things forms the basis for Povilitis's considering rights within the “naturalist tradition.”
The central life-and-death question is not “Do nonhuman animals and nature have rights?” but rather “On what basis should rights be assigned to animals and nature?” Povilitis favors a “naturalist” tradition which asserts that “life itself represents a value comparable to or greater than that assigned to the allegedly unique properties of the human mind.” Naturalists value nature “not only as a provider of goods and services but also as a place of creativity that cannot be duplicated by man, who is merely one of its derivatives.”