On “rights” for trees and humans

majestic Sugar PineTo a large extent our difficulties are a difficulty of language. People fail to realize that language is multivalent and also, particularly, that when a person uses a word like ‘rights’, for the non-human world, they think ‘rights’ is a single continuum…

‘Rights’ is an analogous term. It is an analogous term. It is alike and different. Like a person says – “A tree has rights” – the tree doesn’t have human rights because human rights would be no good for a tree. A tree needs tree rights. Birds need bird rights. Plants need plant rights.

This whole question of law and rights needs to recognize what we call the diversity within the continuity.

It is a difference of quality, not of quantity.

So, it is not that the humans have more or less. Humans don’t have more rights than birds do. They have different rights.

So that it’s this capacity to recognize difference that pervades just an enormous amount of human affairs.