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Speciesism Paperback – October 15, 2004

4.2 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Exposes and discredits the ideas and laws that have legitimated and sustained the oppression of other animals. -- David Nibert, Professor of Sociology, Wittenberg University and author of Animal Rights/Human Rights

Point[s] out numerous inconsistencies of language and argument in ... Tom Regan, Peter Singer, and Gary Francione. ... unique ... admirable ... useful ... Recommended. -- Choice magazine, May 2005

The definitive statement of the abolitionist animal rights position--in philosophy, for the law, and for animal rights advocacy. -- Steve F. Sapontzis, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, California State University, Hayward and author of Morals, Reason, and Animals

Unique and impressive ... forcefully develops the most rigorous and consistent definition of speciesism ever offered. -- Michael A. Fox, Professor of Philosophy, Queen’s University and author of Deep Vegetarianism

With sound science and reason, this book brilliantly expands on the limited views of many animal rights philosophers. -- Dr. Michael W. Fox, author of The Boundless Circle

About the Author

Joan Dunayer is a writer, editor, and animal rights advocate. A graduate of Princeton University, she has master's degrees in English literature, English education, and psychology. Her articles and essays have appeared in magazines, journals, college textbooks, and anthologies.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Lantern Books (October 15, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0970647565
  • ISBN-13: 978-0970647566
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,165,094 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Brandon Becker on August 10, 2009
Format: Paperback
Dunayer's Speciesism dismantles speciesist ideology and develops an egalitarian animal rights philosophy.

The opening chapter defines speciesism and, with comparisons to racism and sexism, logically argues that excluding any sentient being from the moral community is speciesist.

The first two sections are Old Speciesism and New Speciesism. Old speciesism is the status quo, rights for only human animals. Dunayer shows how this philosophy disregards the interests of nonhuman animals, whom the law regards as property and exploitable resources. Old-speciesist advocacy is about modifying the conditions under which nonhuman animals are enslaved and murdered. New speciesism extends rights to some nonhuman animals, primarily on the basis of their being "human-like." Dunayer makes the case that this philosophy creates an unjust hierarchy in which human-like rather than sentient is the standard for personhood. In contrast, sentience-based arguments break down the species barrier.

The final section, Animal Equality, develops a nonspeciesist framework with rights for all animals. This philosophy accords all sentient beings equal consideration and respect. Liberated from property status, nonhuman animals receive all applicable rights as persons under the law. Nonhuman rights to life and liberty restrain humans from breeding, confining, exploiting, or intentionally and needlessly killing other animals. Joining these basic rights is a nonhuman right to property, understood as including nonhumans' bodily secretions (e.g., milk, eggs, and honey), what nonhumans build (e.g., nests and dens), and their natural habitats ("undeveloped" areas communally owned by their nonhuman residents).
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Format: Paperback
Joan Dunayer, author of the excellent Animal Equality, has written another very fine and original book. In SPECIESISM, she defends the equal moral significance of every sentient being. In the course of doing so, she thoroughly discusses and criticizes "Old Speciesism," "New Speciesism," and the nonhuman-animal advocacy groups who actually espouse the notions of either of these views. Her final three chapters are devoted to truly nonspeciesist philosophy, law, and a program for nonspeciesist advocacy. While some of the philosophers she discusses will not agree with every criticism she raises against their views, she is dead on target in many of her arguments. Her discussion of much of our current law, "Old Speciesist" to the core, is a horrifyingly detailed exposition of slave trade law. The legal "reforms" advanced by "New Speciesists" are also exposed as bows to human superiority: the more intelligent the nonhuman animal is; i.e., the closer to us the nonhuman is, the bigger and cleaner the cages get to be.

One of the several great services SPECIESISM performs is Dunayer's presentation of compelling scientific evidence for the sentience of invertebrates. There are many, many nonhuman animals deserving of equal moral significance with human animals if Dunayer is right. She shows too how it would actually be possible to implement these principles of respect. She offers a realistic scenario for legal change, change that would take place gradually, as more humans are persuaded against speciesism. SPECIESISM is a significant contribution to the realization of a genuinely moral way of life.
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Format: Paperback
"Speciesism" is a well thought and well written piece that brings together inconsistent animal rights ideas and helps make them consistent. Joan Dunayer does so by comparing the writings of several ideologues with their other writings, the writings of each other, and with Dunayer's own reasoning.

In one sense, Dunayer acts as a logician to root out inconsistencies and hypocrisies of the other writers. In another sense, she uses their building blocks to construct a new treatise on animal rights.

Racism is to human rights what speciesism is to animal rights. "Speciesism" discusses the "racism" humans have against the animal kingdom. Dunayer divides the subject into Old Speciesism, which is the view that only humans are entitled to basic moral rights (life and liberty, for example); New Speciesism, which claims that some nonhumans are entitled to basic moral rights, typically based on their similarity to humans (chimpanzees and bonobos, for example); and Animal Equality, the fruition of the book, which claims that all beings who have sentience have an equal claim to basic moral rights.

Dunayer critically evaluates other animal rights theorists which makes "Speciesism" especially valuable to readers who are learning about animal rights. Of the many animal rights books I've read, no other calls so many others to the table to weigh each of them in one discussion. It's almost like a "Cliff's Notes" to the other writings but it adds much more commentary and insight than just a review of other books.

"Speciesism" is written for the lay reader. I've found some other books very dense with philosophical jargon making them hard to follow for the casual reader. As such, I am loathe to recommend them fearing that the density would turn off a reader's mind. "Speciesism" is suitable for most teenagers and all adults.

It's a formidable piece, and a must read for all people serious about learning about the animals rights philosophy.
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