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112 of 121 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most important philosophy books ever written
Want to upset all the pre-conceptions of your life, and look at the world around you in a radically new way? Then read Peter Singer's book Animal Liberation. Written by an Australian philosophy professor in the 1970s, and revised in the early 1990s, Animal Liberation is the founding book of the modern animal rights movement. As such, Animal Liberation be one of the most...
Published on July 3, 1997

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56 of 79 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Philosophy Book That's Light on Actual Philsophy
As an animal rights advocate for about 8 years, I figured that it was finally time to read "Animal Liberation", hailed as the "Bible" of the modern animal rights movement. Altogether, the book was somewhat disappointing - it's a philosophy book without much philosophical discussion!
Singer does an excellent job of detailing the evils and follies of animal...
Published on July 23, 2003 by Kelly A. Garbato


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112 of 121 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most important philosophy books ever written, July 3, 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Animal Liberation (Paperback)
Want to upset all the pre-conceptions of your life, and look at the world around you in a radically new way? Then read Peter Singer's book Animal Liberation. Written by an Australian philosophy professor in the 1970s, and revised in the early 1990s, Animal Liberation is the founding book of the modern animal rights movement. As such, Animal Liberation be one of the most influential books of the 20th century.

When Singer's book first appeared, animal rights was on the fringe of the fringe. Animal rights advocates, to the extent that they could get any attention from the press at all, were treated as a bunch of nuts. CBS Evening News compared British animal rights advocates to Monty Python charachters.

But today, especially among young people, animal rights is a major part of political and social activism. So even if you think you're inflexibly opposed to animals having rights, Singer's book will help you understand the millions of people who disagree with you.

Folks who believe that animals have no rights will often assert that because animals are animals, they should have no rights. As Singer points out, the argument is simply a tautology. To say that animals should have no rights because they are animals is no more logical than to say that women should not have rights because they are women, or that Blacks should have no rights because they are Blacks. To say that status as a woman must, in itself, imply that women have no rights is sexism; to say the same about Blacks is racism. And, Singer demonstrates, to say the same about animals is "specisim."

Interestingly, when reformers in the late 18th century began arguing that Blacks should not be enslaved merely because of of their race, pro-slavery advocates had an immediate reply: Arguments which questioned the subordination of Blacks could also be used to question the subordination of women, and the subordination of animals. The defenders of slavery had a point, notes Singer. Once you knock out one kind of subordination, it's harder to defend the subordination that remains.

So if simplistic speciesism is an insufficient basis for denying animals rights, what logical justification is there for current treatment of animals?

It is true, of course, that animals can't do lots of things that humans can, such as write, build complex tools, or describe a religious belief system. But if you compare a profoundly retarded child with one of the higher primates, the primate may have much more advanced skills in the traits that we consider human (such as use of language or tools) than does the profoundly retarded child.

If we acknowledge that the retarded child has rights, then what philosophically plausible claim can be made that the primate does not?

The best test for rights, argues Singer, is a test first articulated by the 19th century philosopher Jeremy Bentham: "Can it suffer?" If you saw someone using an electric cattle prod to torture an adult human, you would say that the person's rights were being violated. If the severely retarded child were being tortured, you would likewise say that the child's rights were being violated. And because gorillas, dogs, and eagles also feel intense pain when being attacked with electric cattle prods, their rights are likewise violated when they are tortured. In contrast, trees and rocks do not feel pain, as far as we know, and therefore using a cattle prod on a rock is merely a waste of electricity, and not the violation of rights on the part of the rock.

"How can you tell that animals feel pain?" is one rejoinder to the argument above. The theory that animals are mere automotons, and have no more feeling than does a clock, was first articulated by the French philosopher Rene Descartes.

In reply, Singer points out that: First of all, animals react in a manner which we would expect from a being in pain -- they scream, and they try to avoid the source of the pain. Second, all of the evidence we have regarding the nervous system of animals shows that their pain-sensing capacity is structurally similar to the pain-sensing portion of the nervous system in humans.

Having set up a philosophical basis for animal rights, Singer then examines current treatment of animals by humans, to see if violations of rights are involved.

Singer's approach has no sentimentalism about animals in it. He describes his disgust as meeting a woman who gushed "Don't you just love animals!" -- and then offered him a ham sandwich.

The book's discussion of factory farming of animals is particularly powerful. He describes how almost all of the chickens, pigs, and cattle that end up in a supermarket meat tray are subjected to squalid conditions of confinement that can be described as torture. Chickens are confined in cages too small even to lift a wing, and cages are stacked on top of each other so that the top chickens' feces fall on the ones below. To deal with the high death rates that result from these disgusting conditions, the animals are pumped full of high doses of antibiotics
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Book That Changed My Life Forever, November 18, 2007
This review is from: Animal Liberation (Paperback)
When I was just a seventeen-year-old teenager, the boss at my summer job gave me Animal Liberation to read because he didn't have the heart to throw a book out. He said PETA sent it to him because of his large donation. He wasn't a vegetarian but he did have a soft spot for the animals.

Anyway, half way through the book, I converted to vegetarianism. By the end of the book which coincided with the end of the week, I was a vegan and haven't looked back since that day which was 20 years ago.

Read this book and inform yourself. You don't have to become a vegan but it would be nice if you developed an awareness of how mankind treats animals and how he has forsaken his role as "shepherd."

Thanks.
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56 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing read, February 6, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Animal Liberation (Hardcover)
I cannot stress enough what an amazing book Animal Liberation is. I had always known the way we treat animals in our society is wrong, but nothing gave me the concrete and clear arguments I needed like this book to explain why animals do indeed have rights. I have heard many people, a few of whom have read this book, say that rights are a human-only attribute because only we have a moral or ethical structure, but obviously they did not read closely enough in order to see the very convincing argument Peter Singer lays out: there are mentally disabled individuals in our society who may not even be able to communicate at all, but who among us would say they did not have equal human rights, or at least the basic right to be free from pain? People who think "I will give animals rights when they ask for them" are missing the point entirely: it is up to us. Please, even if you don't agree with this viewpoint, read this book. It will give you an awakening into the world of animal rights in a clear and easy to read (but sometimes not easy to stomach) format. It also has an excellent bibliography and list of organizations at the end. If you don't think I've stressed it enough, AN EXCELLENT BOOK!
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45 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The premiere introduction to modern animal-welfare advocacy, July 21, 2001
By 
Kevin Heckman (Bellevue, WA, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Animal Liberation (Hardcover)
Peter Singer is possibly the most famous living philosopher in the world, and this book is an excellent reason to find out why. His arguments start from premises that almost everyone accepts, and they carefully and logically proceed to conclusions which are definately outside the mainstream of typical opinion (to put it mildly). This book is at once accessible and controversial, and evokes strong opinions -- you either love it or hate it, with very few people in the middle.
The good: The book is comprehensive, attempting to answer both the "why" and the "how" of animal liberation. It provides a decent, although not thorough, overview of most of the shocking treatment of animals raised for human consumption and at times might be very difficult to read. Singer's arguments are not mere emotive appeals and are top-notch.
The bad: Although understandable in a book that is aimed at a popular audience, Singer doesn't really go into the foundations of his ethics at all -- there's no answer to "why be ethical?" addressed in the book; instead it assumes that the reader already agrees that one should be ethical and procedes from there. The footnotes are decent but could be more comprehensive, and at times Singer gets a little wordy, which detracts from the impact of his arguments. However, these detractions are minor compared with the overall quality of the book.
The ugly: Most people who read and disagree with Animal Liberation fall into one of two traps. First, they assume that Singer is arguing for animal rights, and trot out a bunch of arguments about moral agency and so forth. However, Singer specifically does not argue for rights, and his ethical system in general is not based on them (he's a utilitarian). (For a look at a rights-based animal welfare defense, please check out some books or articles by Tom Regan.) The second mistaken criticism people tend to make is essentially "Singer's conclusions are very different from mainstream thought! They're obviously ridiculous!" -- i.e., they don't address the quality of the arguments themselves.
This is not to say that there aren't any good rebuttals to Singer's positions, merely that these ain't them.
In conclusion, this book is required reading for anyone interested in the way humans treat and think about other species, or anyone interested in the genesis of the modern animal-welfare movement. Highly recommended!
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A shot across the bows, January 11, 2007
By 
Kronos (Exeter, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Animal Liberation (Paperback)
This is one of the first accounts of what was to become one of the most contoversial movements in the world. Peter Singer, a moral philosopher, argues about the ethics of eating meat, biomedical experiments on animals, cattle farming, the meat industry, and other related topics. Written with his characteristic lucidity and clarity, this is no jittery, woolly, 'fascist animal rights lobby' book, but an intellectually rigorous, philosophically grounded tract on what it means to be human and what duties we owe other species who share the world with us. Clear-eyed, substantiated with impeccably-researched data and facts, and radiant with a moral energy that has all but left academic philosophical writing, it gives much-needed credibility to a burning, and often much abused and misrepresented, issue. Read him.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A paradigm breaker!, October 16, 1999
This review is from: Animal Liberation (Hardcover)
This is a remarkable book that is certain to change your life--if you can read it with an open mind. As one of this century's premiere philosophers, Peter Singer challenges us on every level. This book's focus is our attitudes towards animals, which he claims is often 'speciesist'. His philosophical defense of this claim is masterful. His discussion of the facts--the way that our society treats animals behind our backs--is compelling and ire-inspiring. After setting a moralistic fire in our hearts, he offers suggestions on how to excise this cumbersome paradigm from our daily lives. Read it and look deep within your soul . . . you may not like what you see, but fear not: we've all got ample opportunities for change.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Radical Animal Welfarism, March 21, 2004
This review is from: Animal Liberation (Paperback)
Though this book may have been dubbed "The Animal Rights Bible" - it is interesting to note that nowhere in Singer's argument does he make a case for "rights" for animals. Singer's system of ethics is comprised of a form of utilitarianism that takes into account the interests of nonhuman animals. Thus, Singer's book is not an argument for "rights" for animals - Instead it is work intended to make a case for expanding our circle of compassion by considering the immense amount of unecessary suffering inflicted upon the nonhuman animal world by human institutions. In order to understand Singer's perspective, the reader must be willing to open their mind to the idea that our society is capable of change, and that we indeed can strive to live in peace with the nonhuman creatures with whom we share the Earth. Thus, an open-minded reader may be able to share in a vision of a more peaceful world in which we view other animals as creatures who are worthy of experiencing their own life - rather than as simple automatons that exist to be exploited as objects for human consumption.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly eye-opening book, July 26, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Animal Liberation (Paperback)
I used to think that animal rights was so clearly wrong-headed that I didn't understand what its supporters could be thinking, but reading this book has totally changed my worldview, as it has to many others to whom I've recommended it. The case for animals rights is generally misunderstood, and this book is eye-opening. It is very easy to read, very lucid, and extremely informative. More than that, it's logic is so simple and compelling, it leaves you amazed that you never thought of this yourself, and wondering why you'd never heard it before. I recommend it as strongly as possible. It is nothing less than a triumph of reason, and a step forward for humanity.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye opener for a blinded world, June 11, 2005
This review is from: Animal Liberation (Paperback)
I've been a vegetarian for 12 years. A vegan for 2. I recently read this book for the first time. I wish I had read it a long time ago. Even though I have read extensively on this subject over the years and most of what Singer says I have read before, he has a way of really driving the issue home. It's amazing how much of the other literature out their feeds off of this book. Another thing that makes this book great is that it is backed up solidly. His references are from trusted sources. You can be assured that this book isn't just hype or written in an over done matter to just scare you into change. It is true and unexagerated. This book is absolutely a must read for anyone interested in the subject and any one who eats meat or dairy. You should be aware of how dinner gets on your plate. It's irresponsible not to. I wish it was required reading in schools. Too many people live blindly on this subject and need their eyes opened. Since reading this book I have bought more copies of it to give away to friends of mine or anyone who seriously questions my vegan lifestlye. I have one warning for you. If you are not interested in the philosophy behind animal rights, take Singers own advice and skip the first chapter and go back to it when you have finished the book. For those who are not familiar with philosophy the first chapter may seem dry or forein. However it is an important chapter and should be read but again does not have to be read as a first chapter inorder to understand the book. I keep reading all these reviews from people who are obviously into the philosophy behind it and that is great but they are giving it reviews based solely on the philosophy. Which I agree, if you were looking forward to a book full of great philisophical debate I think you would be dissappointed. I think it is a mistake to base your review on the philosophy only. Although Singer could obiously go on and on about the philosophy behind it he chooses not to. I feel that is admirable. I believe that Singer realized that those interested in pholosophy are fewer in number than those confused by it. By limiting the exposure of his philisophical views he made it possible to reach a larger audience. All in all, an absolutley excellant book for the beginer and weathered alike. If you have been a vegetarian/ vegan for a long time read this book to revitalize your passions about the subject. If you are a beginer- get passionate about it!
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Reasons for Animal Liberation, July 15, 2004
By 
Eric Blanton (Cooper City, FL) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Animal Liberation (Paperback)
I remember passing by a banner at my college that said "Why does your love for animals stop at dogs and cats?" a couple of months ago. Ever since I saw that banner, I've had a different way of looking at non-human animals. I decided to pick up this book a few days later and I can honestly say that my lifestyle and thinking has dramatically changed because of it.
Animal Liberation is a call to everyone to help stop, or at least drastically limit, the cruel mass-practices of animal testing and factory farming. Singer makes very persuasive arguements against both of the aforementioned practices and describes the punishment (many of it hard to even read about) animals have gone through simply to test our products (especially cosmetics) and fill our appetites.
The book is aptly titled Animal Liberation because animals need to be freed from man's dominance over them. I completely agree with Singer's path to "animal liberation" which consist of a change in mindset and a change in diet. One of the strongest arguements in the book is how Singer compares animals' condition to former practices of human bondage. We as humans seem to deem animals as inferior, means to our ends, and usable, just as masters viewed their captives. But animals cannot rise up and march peacefully in numbers, speak for their freedom, and take action. It is our ethical duty to grant them their rights as sentient (able to feel pain, fear, and other emotions) beings.
After reading Animal Liberation I was appalled. I really had no idea the situation was this bad. The book is an excellent read; it's arguements are clear, humane, and ultimately, right. I can gladly say that this book has changed my diet (vegetarian), lifestyle, and outlook on things nonhuman.
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Animal Liberation
Animal Liberation by Peter Singer (Paperback - December 1, 2001)
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