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Demystifying Animal Rights

By Mylan Engel Jr.

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According to the mysteriousness objection, moral rights are wholly mysterious, metaphysically suspect entities. Given their unexplained character and dubious metaphysical status, the objection goes, we should be ontologically parsimonious and deny that such entities exist. I defend Tom Regan's rights view from the mysteriousness objection. In particular, I argue that what makes moral rights seem metaphysically mysterious is the mistaken tendency to reify such rights. Once we understand what moral rights are and what they are not, we will see that rights talk is neither mysterious nor nonsensical. I then consider a second aspect of Regan’s rights view that some critics have found “mystifying.” I circumvent this objection by identifying and defending an alternative rights-conferring property. I conclude by pointing out the moral significance of these findings vis-à-vis our current treatment of nonhuman animals.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Publication Title Between the Species
Volume 21
Issue 1
Pages 19
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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Mylan Engel Jr. (2019), "Demystifying Animal Rights,"

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  1. Animal rights
  2. Animal welfare
  3. open access
  4. Treatment of animals
  1. open access