There is a great deal of confusion about the concept of rights. We are often unclear what we refer to when we talk about human rights. This confusion and lack of clarity are even more pronounced when we talk about “animal rights” because some use the term to describe any welfarist regulation, and some, like me, use it as a synonym for the abolition of animal exploitation.
There is no greater proof of the confusion among animal advocates than the fact that, Peter Singer, the “father of the animal rights movement” does not believe in rights for humans or nonhumans!
The concept of rights has certainly generated a great deal of philosophical discussion and debate.
But we can cut through all of this and clarify the notion of a right for purposes of understanding some basic aspects of the concept.
What is a right?
A right is simply a way of protecting an interest.
An interest is something that we want, desire, or prefer. We all have interests. We share some interests in common. For example, we all have an interest in food and medical care. Some interests are more peculiar to the individual. I have absolutely no interest in playing golf; many people are passionate about golf.