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Animals and the Moral Community: Mental Life, Moral Status, and Kinship Hardcover – September 15, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0231142342 ISBN-10: 023114234X Edition: 1st

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Animals and the Moral Community: Mental Life, Moral Status, and Kinship + Animal Rights: Current Debates and New Directions
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press; 1 edition (September 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 023114234X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231142342
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #377,897 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Highly recommended.


The book is interesting, stimulating, and well worth reading for anyone interested in animals' cognition and/or moral status.

(Julia Tanner Journal of Applied Philosophy)

Steiner weaves his narrative through a great deal of material, and in the end proposes a theory of kinship that is sure both to provoke and delight.

(Brett Buchanan Society & Animals 1900-01-00)


Animals and the Moral Community is a stimulating and comprehensive philosophical inquiry into animal cognition and sentience and the bearing of what we learn about animal minds on how we treat them. Although Gary Steiner argues that animals are unable to make rational inferences, his notions of cosmic holism and cosmic justice demand nonviolence toward animals and that we value their moral status as we value our own. A radical shift in how we treat animals will have a positive effect not only on their lives but also on ours, and I hope that the principle of cosmic justice will be adopted globally.

(Marc Bekoff, University of Colorado, author of The Emotional Lives of Animals, Animals Matter, and, with Jessica Pierce, the forthcoming Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals)

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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Daniel R. Cudahy on May 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Animals and the Moral Community takes up two major topics in six chapters. The first three chapters, drawing on previous works of philosophy and cognitive ethology, take the reader on a superb tour and analysis of both historical and current thought on the mental life of animals, settling on a moderate and compelling theory of animal minds that avoids the attribution to animals of complex and abstract cognition (i.e. conceptual rationality) found in normal adult humans and avoids the ludicrous neo-Cartesian denial of perceptual intelligence and experiential awareness. Bringing out the important difference between perceptual intelligence and conceptual rationality, Professor Steiner states at the end of these chapters on animal minds, "Animals are intelligent creatures with subjective states of awareness. The more we come to appreciate this fact, the less we will be able to cling to a related anthropocentric prejudice, namely, that animals, being cognitively inferior to humans, are morally inferior as well." (p. 88) This leads us to the second major topic of the book: moral status and kinship.

In discussing the moral status of and our kinship with animals, Steiner explores the conflict between liberal individualism and animal rights. As it has been traditionally conceived, liberal individualism posits Kantian rational autonomy of the moral agent as a necessary criterion for inclusion in the moral community. As such, many thinkers today who uncritically accept this traditional conception of liberal individualism, but nevertheless realize that the degree and severity of our exploitation of animals is morally unacceptable, have sought to argue that animals have sufficient cognitive abilities (i.e.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful By ROROTOKO on August 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
"Animals and the Moral Community" is on the ROROTOKO list of cutting-edge intellectual nonfiction. Professor Steiner's book interview ran here as cover feature on May 20, 2009.
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