Philosopher Sorabji, Professor of Ancient Philosophy at King's College, University of London, skillfully explores the debate in Western thought over the moral status of animals. Beginning with its roots in the arguments presented by Aristotle and the Stoics, the central argument concerns whether or not animals have the requisite "rationality" to be treated as equals or near-equals, with most sides arguing that they do not. "Rationality" usually being defined by these philosophers as the ability to speak, the Western view has been that animals "don't have syntax, so we can eat them." Still, these philosophers are forced to negotiate many mental twists and turns to make their theories fit their own conflicting perceptions of what animals are and aren't capable of knowing and doing. Medieval Christian beliefs on the subject are also discussed, and a thoughtful critique on the more contemporary belief systems of animal rights proponents Singer, Reagan, and Midgley is presented. Recommended for anyone concerned with or interested in the origins of today's animal rights debate. Brian McCombie
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"A wealth of information and argument on an important issue. . . This exhilarating book shows how studying the history of philosophy can be a way of examining our own lives."—Philosophical Review
"Sorabji starts . . . by examining philosophical treatments of animals in ancient Greece. From there he goes on to current thinking and argues that the animal rights movement is philosophically incoherent. His philosophical analysis is so thorough that anyone who's thinking about these issues has an obligation to read this book."—Lingua Franca
"A tour de force, Animal Minds and Human Morals is a brilliant contribution to the literature and will be an essential reference for anyone interested in the history of philosophical debates about the cognitive and moral status of animals. Sorabji convincingly argues that these concerns go to the very core of the Western philosophical tradition. The clarity, wit, and charm of the prose will make this book engaging to a wide audience."—Dale Jamieson, University of Colorado
"Extremely impressive. Sorabji documents fully and sharply two startling points which need very much to be widely seen: first, the bizarre neglect of moral questions about animals until quite recently; second, the distortions that have afflicted philosophy on this topic in the decades since it has been properly noticed. Sorabji shows admirably both how badly this corrupted our practice and how our careless thinking here has rebounded to cause confusion in the philosophy of mind. I believe his book can help us considerably to use more realistic methods, not just on this topic, but in ethics generally."—Mary Midgley, author of Animals and Why They Matter