- Paperback: 474 pages
- Publisher: University of California Press; First Edition, Updated with a New Preface edition (September 17, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0520243862
- ISBN-13: 978-0520243866
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 14 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #209,215 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Case for Animal Rights First Edition, Updated with a New Preface Edition
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""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"
From the Inside Flap
"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)
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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. Even aside from Regan's nominal topic, the volume could serve as a fine introduction to ethical thought in general. (Among its many highlights: a short refutation of Jan Narveson's "rational egoism" that could double as a refutation of Ayn Rand's even sillier version.)
In the end, what this gets us is a careful case for regarding mammalian animals which are at least a year old as possessors of "rights." (Regan also argues that for other reasons, we could and should want to extend "rights" to other animals; he has limited his discussion to mammals in order to keep to what he takes to be a fairly clear-cut case.) These "rights" do not, he holds, trump every other ethical consideration under the sun; in particular, in emergency situations in which either (say) a human being or a dog (or a million dogs) must be killed, we should kill the dog (or dogs) every time. These "rights" are _prima facie_ moral claims -- strong, but not indefeasible.
What I think Regan has successfully shown is that living beings don't have to be moral _agents_ in order to count in our moral deliberations. And with most of what he says on this subject, I heartily agree; in particular I think he has made just the right distinction between moral agents and moral patients, and correctly argued that moral patients have _some_ sort of "right" to consideration.
I cannot, however, follow him _quite_ all the way to his conclusions -- for example, that we are morally obliged to be vegetarian and to refrain from using animals in all scientific research. Mind you, I've been a vegetarian myself and I think there _are_ good reasons for avoiding meat; I just don't think they're morally conclusive. I agree completely that many current practices are inhumane, and I also agree with a point Regan argues repeatedly: that moral limitations on what we can do with animals do _not_, as such, interfere with the operation of the free market. But I'm still not altogether sold.
(The problem -- to put it briefly and inadequately -- is that I think Regan assigns too much to moral _patients_ in the way of "rights." I'm not persuaded that in order to have a "right," it's enough that someone else could make a moral claim on your behalf. In other words, I disagree with Regan's contention that moral agents and moral patients are entitled to exactly the _same_ sorts of moral consideration.)
I don't, however, mind admitting that Regan has changed my mind on some points and may yet change my mind on others. If I ever _do_ change my mind on this last point, he will be in part responsible.
And at any rate I highly recommend this volume to any readers interested in the topic of animal rights. Moral reasoning doesn't get any better than this.
He argues, "given evolutionary theory... we have every reason to suppose that the members of other species also are conscious." (Pg. 19) He suggests, "There is, then, no SINGLE reason for attributing consciousness of a mental life to certain animals. What we have is a SET of reasons, which, when taken together, provides what might be called the Cumulative Argument for animal consciousness." (Pg. 27-28) He asserts that in terminating the life of suffering/ill animals "Though we do for them what they cannot do for themselves, we do not impose our will on them... we comply with their will, as this is known to us." (Pg. 114)
He says about fellow animal rights philosopher Peter Singer, "[we] must acknowledge an enormous debt to Singer. The growing public awareness of the gruesome details of factory farming is in no small measure due to the wide readership of his work, especially Animal Liberation: The Definitive Classic of the Animal Movement (P.S.)... But this debt to Singer's work does not imply that his moral argument for vegetarianism is adequate." (Pg. 220) He adds, "Even the most sympathetic reader... will fail to find the necessary calculations [of the aggregate "better" consequences] in Singer's work. They simply are not there." (Pg. 223)
He states, "That is the destination toward which this work has been moving from the outset. It is not an act of kindness to treat animals respectfully. It is an act of justice. It is not 'the sentimental interests' of moral agents that grounds our duties of justice to children, the retarded, the senile, or other moral patients, including animals. It is respect for their inherent value." (Pg. 280)
He later argues, "because [animals] are not moral agents, they can neither do what is right nor what is wrong... the inability of animals in this regard shows they cannot be anything but innocent. The principle that it is prima facie wrong to harm the innocent demonstrably applies to our dealings with animals." (Pg. 295) He concludes that "the ultimate objective of the rights view is the total dissolution of the animal industry as we know it." (Pg. 348) Furthermore, "tests of new products and drugs involving animals are not morally justified. These tests violate the rights of these animals. They are not morally tolerable. All ought to cease." (Pg. 382)
Regan's book is ESSENTIAL READING for anyone studying the issue of animal rights and animal welfare.
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The sky becomes filthy,
The Earth becomes depleted,
The equilibrium crumbles,
Creatures become extinct.Read more