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Rights of Children and Animals

  • R. S. White

Abstract

Once the general theory of rights of man was placed on the intellectual map, the issue of slavery had focused many minds on the categories of natural rights, and more specific rights such as those of women had been initially asserted, then a trend was set in process which could reach to embrace other vulnerable groups. If adult human beings had rights by virtue of simple existence, then why not children, and then why not all living things? Even if Spinoza (1632–77) may have been expressing an extreme view in arguing that trees and rocks have rights to continued existence (a proposition which is no longer seen to be absurd in view of current environmental concerns), yet his logic revealed potential extensions of natural rights theory to all animate beings capable of suffering pain and deprivation of liberty. The purpose of this chapter will be to indicate that important arguments for natural rights were spreading into the general fields of education, a new respect for nature, and also animal rights, but it is impossible in one chapter to be at all thorough in documenting these swelling debates.1 Taken as a whole movement, the call for natural rights was certainly not achieved by the end of the 1790s, but its central positions had been articulated, and were to be developed and drawn upon by the romantic writers who followed.

Keywords

Child Labour Corporal Punishment Slave Trade Late Eighteenth Century Social Principle 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

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Copyright information

© R. S. White 2005

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  • R. S. White

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