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The Case for Animal Rights Reprint Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0520054608
ISBN-10: 0520054601
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Arguably the single best recent work on animal rights. It is a demanding text but one that is well worth the effort to read and study carefully. Everybody that is seriously interested in the issues should read this rigorously argued case for AR."--Animal Rights Online

From the Inside Flap

"Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes, Kant, Bentham, Mill: all thought seriously about the role of animals in our lives. But not until Tom Regan published The Case for Animal Rights did the world possess a theory of the rights of animals. When philosophy students come to this issue hundreds of years from now, they will read the greats in light of the arguments presented here."—Gary L. Comstock, editor of Life Science Ethics

"Tom Regan's now classic Case For Animal Rights blends careful argument with intense moral concern. For two decades, where Regan has been taken seriously, animals have been better off and people have become better persons. This new edition is a welcome sign of this influence continuing."—Holmes Rolston, III, University Distinguished Professor, Colorado State University

"A bold and nuanced analysis of the inherent value and moral standing of nonhuman animals. It may also be the most consistent and unyielding defense of animal rights."—Tom L. Beauchamp, Georgetown University

"The most powerful and plausible consideration of the issues and defense of animal rights yet to be produced (or likely to be)."—Richard Wasserstrom

"By far the best work on the subject, and will continue to be the definitive work for years to come . . . .[It is] destined to become a 'modern classic' in the field of ethics, alongside Rawls’s A Theory of Justice and Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia."—Alastair S. Gunn, coauthor of Hold Paramount

Praise for the first edition:

"Unquestionably the best work yet to appear in its field, surpassing even Peter Singer's famous Animal Liberation in originality, thoroughness, and rigor."—Choice

"The Case for Animal Rights is beyond question the most important philosophical contribution to animal rights and is a major work in moral philosophy."—Animal Law Review

"The most powerful and plausible consideration of the issues and defense of animal rights yet to be produced (or likely to be)."—Richard Wasserstrom, author of Philosophy and Social Issues (1980)
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 425 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; Reprint edition (April 8, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520054601
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520054608
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,134,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By R. Cooper on February 4, 1998
Format: Paperback
This book accomplishes two goals: First, it is the best available discussion of the many aspects of animal welfare. Second, it is an excellent example of a fine philosophical mind grappling with a difficult issue. I have often recommended the book to those who just wish to follow the workings of rigorous thought. But reader beware--do not look for simple answers or slogans here. This is difficult reading indeed, but Regan has, better than anyone else (and this is characteristic of all his writing)carefully worked through the many arguments, objections, counter-examples, etc., with thoroughness and clarity unapproached by similar books. If you recognize that the question "Do non-human animals have rights?" is extraordinarily complex and thereby can produce only complex answers, then this is THE book for you.
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As I suggested long ago in my review of Peter Singer's _Animal Liberation_, while I applaud Singer for pointing out numerous ways in which our treatment of animals could be improved, I don't find his "utilitarian" ethical arguments very persuasive.

But Tom Regan's now-classic book -- this one -- is a different story. This is a tour-de-force of ethical argumentation that makes the titular case about as well as it's ever going to be made. Regan doesn't simplify any issues and he's very much alive to fine ethical nuances. And he sets out his case with both rigor and vigor.

Probably most of us won't have any problem agreeing that at least some nonhuman animals are conscious, but there _have_ been people who have denied it (most famously, Rene Descartes). So for completeness, Regan begins with a careful discussion of the question. Avoiding simplistic answers and over-eager claims about research on e.g. animal language, he mounts a solid case that at least some nonhumans do possess consciousness.

(Some of his arguments are a bit weaker than he thinks they are, although I still agree with his conclusions. For example, he argues that possession of language skills can't be an indicator of consciousness because human infants are presumably conscious before they acquire a language; how else, indeed, would they acquire it? But this shows only that _present_ possession of linguistic ability isn't a necessary condition of consciousness; it doesn't show that the ability to _learn_ a language isn't such a condition. As I said, though, I agree with his conclusion; I'm merely criticizing the way he gets to it.)

The remainder of the book is a wide-ranging discussion, not just of animal rights, but of ethics generally.
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Format: Paperback
Warning: this book is not for people new to ethical philosophy or philosophy in general. Try Singer's book for an introduction to some of the themes discussed in this book. Essential reading for those tired of hearing the same old recycled arguments used to justify the torture and murder of sentient living creatures. As such, it appeals to two groups of people: 1) those who are already living or considering adopting an ethical lifestyle and 2) those interested in philosophy, especially ethical philosophy. Do your intellect a favor and READ THIS BOOK!
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Format: Paperback
Tom Regan's book is a classic in the animal rights literature. It is the most philosophical work to date and
consequently not really accessible to the widest of audiences. However, Regan explains his own and others' thoughs in an extremely clear way. This book will be very welcome to anyone who
wants a more "scientific" (as opposed to emotional) defense of animal rights. It is compulsive reading for anyone trying to get a grip on the debate today.
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Format: Paperback
Of all the books I read in college, this one has nagged me the most. It offers a completely logical case for giving animals their own "right to life." Most of the book is an education in ethics philosophy - necessary background if one is to reflect on one's own moral decision-making when it comes to other living beings.

A Christian who believes that humans deserve higher moral consideration precisely because they are humans will not find the book particularly swaying. If one is to cite gospel for making moral decisions, Regan basically asks, "So ... WHICH gospel/scripture?" as there are many faiths that purport to receive the truth from a god or gods. Most Christians have a ready answer to that question - but one backed up by faith, not logic. Regan aims to show that our secular beliefs about human rights to life logically do not exclude - but rather, should include - other animals.

One woman in our class rejected Regan's thesis and conclusion when she learned that accepting his arguments logically necessitated a pro-life, anti-abortion stance. For that reason, a pro-life Christian might give Regan's book a closer, more sympathetic look.

Where Regan's case breaks down is in where to draw the line. Do we make it illegal to fish? To step on ants? To deal with this problem he creates a construct called "Subject of a Life" and establishes several criteria to decide which animals can be food and which ones can't. But it is hard not to see arbitrariness of whatever criteria we establish. In a sense, we are right back to where we started: refering to our personal biases as moral benchmarks.

Why do YOU exclude animals from deserving a right to live, to be eaten, skinned, etc? Is it because they aren't as smart as humans or don't have sophisticated language?
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