Here we turn to some important distinctions that everyone needs to know. These distinctions can become very technical and academic if one wishes to go that way, but the basic issues are relatively easy to understand. This chapter starts with the key distinction between moral rights and legal rights. To understand why this is an important beginning point, it helps to know that key claims about “rights” both inside and outside the animal rights debate often rely on vague and inadequate definitions of what rights are (this is discussed further in chapter 5). If one tries to use a poorly thought out idea of rights for other animals, especially in the face of ignorance about the animals involved, the result is like blowing smoke into fogclarity is not enhanced.
Clarity is, for many reasons, very desirable in this area. Some of the less-than-clear thinking about animal rights is promoted by those who oppose rights of any kind for nonhumans, while some of the sloppy thinking is promoted by those who claim that rights are the solution to every problem humans cause nonhuman animals. Some opponents of animal rights are fond of misdefining “animal rights” as “a philosophy that animals have the same rights as people” (see the glossary). Since humans rights are rich and diverse, and include civil, economic, political, social, and cultural rights, it makes little sense to claim than anyone seeks to give other-than-human animals “the same