On the next Philosophy in Action Radio, I'll interview emergency medicine physician Dr. Doug McGuff on "Government Controls in Emergency Medicine." The live broadcast starts promptly at 6 pm PT / 7 MT / 8 CT / 9 ET on Thursday, 31 July 2014. If you can't attend live, be sure to listen to the podcast later.


Animal Rights

  • Q&A: The "Marginal Humans" Argument: 21 Jul 2013, Question 1
  • Question: What's wrong with the "marginal humans" argument against uniquely human rights? Ayn Rand, following Aristotle, defined man as the rational animal – meaning that man's essential quality is that he possesses the faculty of reason, while other animals do not. Such is the basis for rights, in her view. Opponents of animal rights often appeal to this gap between humans and other animals to justify raising animals to be killed and eaten. They claim that animals can't have rights because they're not rational. Advocates of animal rights, however, often attempt to refute this claim via the "marginal humans" argument. They observe that human infants lack the faculty of reason, and hence, we should not use rationality as the moral criterion for rights. What is wrong with this argument? Do opponents of animal rights conflate potential with actual rationality, in that the infant seems potentially but not actually capable of reason?

    Tags: Animal Rights, Animals, Children, Disability, Human Nature, Politics, Rights

  • Q&A: Contributing to Animal Welfare Groups: 5 Aug 2012, Question 1
  • Question: Should a person contribute to animal welfare organizations? Animal shelters find good homes for abandoned and abused pets. They also offer assistance to pet owners during emergencies, such as the recent wildfires in Colorado. That work seems laudable to me – and something that a rational person might support and even contribute to. Yet such groups often advocate wrong views (such as veganism) and support rights-violations (such as animal welfare laws). So are such groups worthy of support or not?

    Tags: Activism, Animal Rights, Animals, Charity, Ethics, Politics, Rights

  • Q&A: Animal Rights: 3 Apr 2011, Question 1
  • Question: Do animals have rights? If not, why not? Given that we don't need to eat animals to survive, shouldn't we be vegetarians or vegans? Also, if animals don't have rights, are people then entitled to do whatever they please with animals that they own?

    Tags: Animal Rights, Animals, Ethics, Law, Rights

  • Q&A: Eating Pets: 26 Dec 2010, Question 4
  • Question: Would you kill your pets for food? Why and why not?

    Tags: Animal Rights, Animals, Ethics, Pets, Rights


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