Natural Rights and Human History

A set of rights based on human nature--and with some qualifications--might not be such a bad idea after all.

Issue: Summer 2001

Terms like sanctity remind me of animal rights. Who gave a dog a right? This word right gets very dangerous. We have women's rights, children's rights; it goes on forever. And then there's the right of a salamander and a frog's rights. It's carried to the absurd.

I'd like to give up saying rights or sanctity. Instead, say that humans have needs, and we should try, as a social species, to respond to human needs--like food or education or health--and that's the way we should work. To try and give it more meaning than it deserves in some quasi-mystical way is for Steven Spielberg or somebody like that. It's just plain aura, up in the sky--I mean, it's crap.1

James Watson

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