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Putting Humans First: Why We Are Nature's Favorite (Studies in Social, Political, and Legal Philosophy) Hardcover – March 1, 2004


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Product Details

  • Series: Studies in Social, Political, and Legal Philosophy
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (March 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 074253345X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0742533455
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.7 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,680,802 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This cranky manifesto opposes the excesses of animal-rights ideologues with an equally doctrinaire libertarianism. Countering animal-rights stalwarts like Tom Regan and Peter Singer, philosophy professor Machan contends that, as the only beings with the capacity for moral choice, only humans can have rights; "wondrous humanity" should therefore stop worrying about "speciesism" and enjoy guilt-free dominion. Machan scores some points on the concept of animal rights (what framework, he wonders, can encompass the rights of both zebras and the lions who feed on them?), but the link to his laissez-faire politics is murky, and his "private property rights approach to managing environmental problems" seems highly inadequate. Shrugging that he is "not sure" about anti-cruelty laws, he hardly mentions industrial livestock rearing or the other institutionalized abuses of animals that have fueled the animal-rights movement. Larger problems like pollution and ecological degradation are a "tragedy of the commons" best handled by privatization of the public realm and perhaps lots of litigation; private landowners, he assumes, will be faithful stewards of their earth, while polluters will answer in court to those whose property or bodies have been damaged by them. Since Machan doesn’t explain how to privatize the upper atmosphere, he allows that there may be a problem with ozone depletion, but he’s satisfied to wait for more research. In Machan’s exuberant call for individuals to do as they please with their animals, their land and their SUVs, the rights of property seem to overshadow those of humans, let alone animals.
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Review

In Putting Humans First, Machan offers an insightful, philosophic, and practical assessment of animal rights and environmental movements. Machan reveals how these philosophies would willingly sacrifice human freedoms by denying basic truths about both man and nature. He shows us that stewardship would be better served by celebrating and employing—rather than vilifying—mankind’s creative and moral nature. (Angela Logomasini, director of risk and environmental policy, Competitive Enterprise Institute)

Tibor R. Machan doesn't like the animal-rights or radical environment movements, and with good cause. Both exhibit anti-human attitudes, he writes, for each rejects the idea that human beings should be the primary concern of human beings. A Chapman University professor, Machan begins his slim volume on a strong note with a cogent critique of the philosophical underpinnings of animal-liberation philosophy. (Wesley Smith The Weekly Standard)

Putting Humans First should become the gold standard for warm and friendly human beings endeavoring to understand and explain why, though we may love animals and nature, they are intrinsically inferior to humans. (Jay Lehr, science director for The Heartland Institute)

A defense of human primacy in a hierarchy of nature and a critique of radical environmentalism. (The Chronicle of Higher Education)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jay Lehr on February 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is unfortunate that writers too often believe they get paid by the word. As a result, we end up with not only overly long books, but bad overly long books. Excessive verbiage often confuses rather than clarifies.

Of course, those of you who have read my book reviews might accuse me of the same failing. Admittedly, my approach is to overwhelm my readers with an amount of information that will cause them to buy the book I review or dissuade them from buying it. At the very least, I aim to impart much of the message of the book, in case readers ignore my advice.

Imparting the total message of Putting Humans First is extremely difficult: Its density of thoughtful content defies its brief narrative.

Putting Humans First is the only book I have encountered that views today's environmental movement from a historical and philosophical perspective and convincingly argues why we have been on the wrong track. Machan then lays out a simple blueprint for man's future interaction with the planet and animal kingdom.

Putting Humans First should become the gold standard for warm and friendly human beings endeavoring to understand and explain why, though we may love animals and nature, they are intrinsically inferior to humans. They warrant "rights" only as we humans define them.

A Logical Argument

Author Dr. Tibor Machan, who is emeritus professor of philosophy at Auburn University, presents an irrefutable argument that will arm with unbeatable ammunition anyone inclined to debate this topic.

Machan develops his argument in a logical manner. He describes most warm, fuzzy members of the animal kingdom as being driven by uncontrollable instinct that is often brutal to their own young, not to mention competing animal families.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mike Renzulli on October 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover
In this book, Dr. Tibor Machan makes the case against rights for animals and makes a convincing argument that environmentalists should favor individual rights rather than an emphasizing the needs of nature over humanity.

This is the first of Dr. Machan's books that I have read and it is a short, well-written treatise that should provoke people, especially environmentalists, to think about the cause(s) they support or the positions they take.

To Machan, the notion that animals should be granted the same rights as humans is nonsense and demonstrates why it is. He contends (and I completely agree) that only beings who have the capacity to think and reason should have natural, individual rights.

Because only humans have the capacity to think, unlike animals, it is they who will and have the capacity to act morally and ethically.

Therefore, only humans should have rights.

A right designates someone's natural sphere of influence so they can remain free from force or the involuntary influence of others.

Government, in turn, is established to protect individual human beings from force and fraud and should not be preverted, like the environmentalist and animal rights groups want, into granting special privileges to certain groups. In this case animals.

The concept of rights took many centuries of struggle and thought on the part of humans to achieve and was nearly obliterated with the adoption of the collectivistic philosophies of fascism, naziism and communism.

Now, mankind is faced with other popular collectivist philosophies (the most prominent of them is environmentalism) in which a cause that is a natural outgrowth from that movement is animal rights.
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26 of 41 people found the following review helpful By T. R Machan on August 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Revisiting the Animal Rights/Liberation Debate

I say "revisiting" because I have addressed the topic in several places quite a few times and want merely to respond to a rather dismissive footnote reference to my treatment of it by Nathan Nobis. I am not going to address Nobis' discussion in full. (He and I have gone round and round about all this via email.)

In a footnote Nobis says "Tibor Machan claims...that humans' use of animals is permissible because doing so makes `the best use of nature of our success in living our lives'." He then adds "[Machan] also notes that we also might benefit from using (marginal) humans, but does not explain why that would be wrong. He merely states that `as far as infants or the significantly impaired among human beings are concerned, they cannot be the basis for a general account of human morality, of what rights human beings have. Borderline cases matter in making difficult decisions but not in forging a general theory.' That might be true, but these remarks provide no reason to think that marginal humans have rights and animals don't, so Machan's views remain incomplete and undefended" (p. 59).

If you only read one paper by someone concerning a topic on which the author has written several more basic papers, no wonder you will conclude that the author's views "remain incomplete." However, I have written a now widely reprinted paper, "Do Animals Have Rights?" (available on the Internet via Google) which lays the foundation for just the point I make in the later paper Nobis references. And since I have written at least two full length books on natural rights theory, the probability of my having given the matter a reasonably complete treatment is considerable.
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