Animal Rights? No.

From: N
Sent: Saturday, February 09, 2019 8:23 AM
To: Walter Block <>
Subject: Just how universal are property rights?

Hello Professor Block,

After listening to your episode of the Tom Woods Show, I was reminded of an interesting question that came up in a debate with one of my lefty friends.  What brought up this memory was the statement that we libertarians are humanists, which I agree with.

My friend is a vegan, one of those “meat is murder” types.  One day while we were debating property rights he asked a question that I found very thought provoking, “if property rights are so universal, then why don’t animals have property rights?”

I had a few responses, but none of them felt air tight to me at the time.  At first I said that animals don’t act in the praxeological sense, their behavior isn’t purposeful it is instinctual.  Animals don’t require ownership over means because they don’t operate in the means/end framework.  Afterwards I thought through some examples where animals seem to act with purpose, when birds gather sticks to build a nest or when dogs obey a command in order to receive a treat.

Another answer I gave is that it is impossible to communicate with animals to establish property ownership.  It seems impossible to exchange a title of ownership with an animal.  But who knows what the future will bring in terms of animal communication.  There is of course the ape who was taught sign language.

I am interested to hear your thoughts on this question, and would very much appreciate any further reading on the subject.

On another note, Space Capitalism sounds like an absolutely fascinating book.  I have added it to my ever expanding list of libertarian books to read, and I look forward to getting a copy!

Thank you, N

From: Walter Block <>

Sent: Saturday, February 9, 2019 11:31 AM

To: N

Subject: RE: Just how universal are property rights?

Dear N:

Thanks for your kind words about my book on Space Capitalism.

When John kills Joe, the former is guilty of murder of the latter. When the lion kills the zebra, the former is NOT guilty of murder of the latter. Why not? 
This is because animals don’t have rights. Read Murray Rothbard on this in the ethics of liberty. Rights and responsibilities go together. Animals have neither.

I hope you enjoy that entire book of Murray’s, and, especially, in view of your question, that one chapter.

Best regards,



1:22 am on May 21, 2019