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On Their Own Terms Paperback – May 29, 2010

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Nectar Bat Press; First edition (May 29, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0976915936
  • ISBN-13: 978-0976915935
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 7 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,819,484 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Lee Hall argues in On Their Own Terms: Bringing Animal-Rights Philosophy Down to Earth for a vegan world, in which all animals roam free. Her perception of the central problem in animal/human relations is that humans exercise dominion over animals. Her strategic approach is "abolitionist, meaning that she believes every campaign activity should work toward the ultimate goal...

In Hall's view, animal captivity should only be regulated in a manner that proceeds toward ending it. Though many animal advocates might agree, reality is that this seriously constrains and perhaps entirely precludes pursuing many reforms that might significantly reduce animal suffering.

Hall is not insensitive to this conflict. Much of On Their Own Terms considers it, often explaining why her employer, Friends of Animals, frequently opposes the campaigns and views of the majority of animal protection societies.

... All animals would be free-living animals in a society that accepts animal rights, so there is every reason for the advocate to appreciate their autonomy rather than remove it."

Hall accepts--and advocates--surgically sterilizing pets and feral cats. But, though advocating morally based veganism as central to resolving most social, economic, and environmental problems, she questions both pursuit of personal purity at the expense of larger goals, and the whole notion of keeping pets. "Today, we can find 'vegan horse riding boots' advertised, Hall writes. "Is the material the big question here? We'll ask about the customs that put the bodies of horses under our behinds. Similarly, the idea of vegan cat food only looks at the surface issue: the components of the product. Is it our role to press cats into becoming herbivores? Our real concern is whether the very concept of pet cats makes ethical sense. If we can't bring these matters up with other vegans, then maybe we are singularly focused on ingredients at the expense of the overall picture of our interactions with animals."

Hall does not reject caregiving as a part of animal advocacy, at least in the here and now. "Animal autonomy does need defending, and dependent animals do need caregiving, Hall accepts. "Yet it's worth noting that a vegan, by being vegan, spares more animals in a year than most any sanctuary in the world can take in."

This is Bringing Animal-Rights Philosophy Down to Earth. So is Hall's approach to protecting wild horses: "If we want to spare free-roaming horses from being rounded up and auctioned off, the answer cannot be limited to closing horse slaughtering plants.

Confronting slaughter makes sense, but as part of a broader perspective. In the U.S., campaigners have allowed the public to become outraged over the idea that horses are the wrong animals to eat, Hall writes. "If Italians do think eating horse meat is proper, and U.S. residents continue to eat the flesh of pigs and cows, the argument becomes on some level one of cultural superiority. Only if the demand for the closure of horse slaughter operations comes as part of a whole vegetarian view is it consistent, respectful, and sensible."

Hall succeeds as well in Bringing Animal-Rights Philosophy Down to Earth in her discussion of campaign tactics. "Attempting to design a campaign or community around a regular diet of blood and every imaginable suffering, she writes, "probably won't attract most healthy people to our cause. That reality is often forgotten when groups excuse sensationalism, sexism or any kind of insensitivity to human experiences by insisting such advertising brings a lot of attention, and thus supporters. We have no way of measuring how many people that insensitivity chases away from the same cause."... --Merritt Clifton. Animal People October --VegNews April 2011

Attorney Lee Hall s On Their Own Terms: Bringing Animal-Rights Philosophy Down to Earth is one part study guide, one part vitamin pill for anyone with an interest in assisting animals, or understanding those of us who do. It s that rare book that is simultaneously compelling narrative and reference-worthy, and will be returned to again and again. --VegNews April 2011

About the Author

Lee Hall has written, taught and worked in the area of human migration and refugee law and the field of animal law.

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Customer Reviews

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Lee Hall's new book `On Their Own Terms' effects a String Theory for the animal rights movement.
Dave Shishkoff
It is a world that "must" and "should" be brought into existence, and one to which our human efforts "must" or "should" be directed.
Joel Marks
Instead it is a very progressive book about animal liberation and how we can really make it happen.
Elizabeth Forel

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Paul S on October 3, 2010
Format: Paperback
Having read other articles & books by Ms. Hall, I'm familiar with her writing style. She is alway informative, clear, & concise but I believe that she has taken her latest book, "On Their Own Terms" to a new level. Lee's words flow beautifully & the book will be clearly understood by those who are familiar with the workings & mission of the animal rights movement, as well as those who are just beginning to explore this vitally important issue. The book states undeniable facts that will cause the reader to examine his/her lifestyle choices as well as how they think about veganism & animal rights. A must read.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Parker Lewis on July 8, 2010
Format: Paperback
If I had to choose between this and any other book to give a clear picture of what animal rights looks like, I'd choose this book. Hands down. As mentioned in the foreword, this is the book that I wish I'd had when I first began this journey.

On Their Own Terms touches on every tenant of animal rights philosophy, from the obvious, everyday arguments against the use of animals for food to the less obvious, intensely thought-provoking arguments against domesticated animals used for pets, responses to common objections encountered in animal advocacy, and whether or not we ought to be using graphic imagery for shock value in our advocacy efforts.

Even if you aren't a vegan, vegetarian, animal advocate, or even animal lover, this book seriously makes you question your indoctrinated beliefs of human dominion over the rest of the planet. It hasn't been working out too well for us so far, and this book explores the complex relationships between humanity's future and that of the many biocommunities throughout the world. On Their Own Terms, as the title implies, makes a sound argument for the interconnection of the animal rights and environmentalist movements -- for who is to gain from animal rights if there are no longer habitats for these animals to thrive?

My personal favorite parts of this book are Hall's exploration of the lifeboat scenario and her in-depth analysis of the ailments of what is commonly referred to as today's "animal welfare" movement. (She explores why that title is misleading as well, but that's a whole 'nother ballpark.) It is wholly clear after reading and digesting this book that working for concessions within an industry that will flip a profit off cruelty or the illusion of compassion is an endless cycle.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Dave Shishkoff on July 13, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Lee Hall's new book `On Their Own Terms' effects a String Theory for the animal rights movement. It convincingly unifies aspects of animal advocacy that align with an animal rights and vegan ideology, and thoughtfully and critically challenges the usefulness and contributions of those aspects that do not.

Defined, Hall say "[A]nimal rights means the right to live on our own terms, not the terms of the people who have subjugated you." Rarely does this clarity emanate from animal activism, but this book effectively spells out this message, and with the oppressive lens removed takes a deep look at our behavior and activism.

As a manifesto for positive change, it challenges both new and experienced readers, implores a new way of thinking. Hall effectively progresses existing animal rights theories and ideas, asking many of the questions, quandaries and dilemmas faced by most activists, and provides positive, meaningful direction for progress.

One particular highlight is that it's one of the few books that discusses the roots of veganism and what was intended by this message, widely quoting vegan founder Donald Watson. So much thought and vision that was imparted into veganism in the 1940's has been ignored and swept under the table today, but Hall passionately revives this, bringing us back to a much broader and holistic attitude towards veganism. The vegan philosophy isn't just about ending factory farms, but speaking up for all animals, and ensuring that there is space and consideration in the world for all free-living animals and their communities.

Further to this, Hall asks deep and critical questions.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Dustin G. Rhodes VINE VOICE on June 9, 2010
Format: Paperback
Jay Tutchton, General Counsel for WildEarth Guardians, writes in the foreword, "Lee Hall has written the book I wish I'd read when I was 20." That's exactly how I feel too. I would have been spared the confusing, meandering, sometimes misguided animal advocacy journey that led to where I am today. I would have arrived a lot more quickly.

The problem with many animal rights theorists who are working today is that they confront animal rights from a single perspective, and then stick with it throughout their entire careers; they repeat the same thing over and over again like a mantra. Whether it be property status, the language we use to reference animals, speciesism, feminism, environmentalism, eco-feminism, etc., the chosen context is used to make the definitive case for animal rights. And: all of those issues are integral, important, necessary, but what it seems most of them miss: the issues are all interrelated, too; they form a complex puzzle that reflects human society and our infinite diversity. It's hard to make a case that one issue is more important or more logical than another when there are countless reasons to advocate for animal rights. Indeed: there is not one good reason not to. Animal rights, as Lee Hall points out, is good for everyone. And it's especially good for the small, sick planet we live on.

That's really at the core of what makes On Their Own Terms truly brilliant: without getting mired down in the heady, often unreadable academic jargon, Lee Hall makes a definitive case for animal rights using a broad brush. Lee also explores all the tiny details, without ever getting lost in them.

Because I work in animal advocacy myself, I consider it my job to read whatever related work becomes available.
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