- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (July 17, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195379772
- ISBN-13: 978-0195379778
- Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.3 x 6.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,668,581 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Why Animal Suffering Matters: Philosophy, Theology, and Practical Ethics 1st Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Linzey (Creatures of the Same God), director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, is a soft-spoken hard-liner about animal rights. In this philosophically and theologically dense treatise, cobbled together and revised from essays and presentations prepared between 2002 and 2007, he rationalizes why no animal should ever be killed or even harmed by humans. Linzey dwells at abstruse length on efforts to ban foxhunting in Britain, while other countries are condemned, America included, for causing suffering for pleasure. A chapter devoted to fur farming slams the practice of raising animals for their pelts, subjecting them to prolonged suffering for trivial ends, such as fur coats. A chapter devoted to commercial sealing dwells on the clubbing of baby seals. Such animal abuse is a precursor to serial murder and violence to children, the author suggests, before calling for an end to killing animals even for food, given that humans can live healthy lives without recourse to flesh products. Linzey's proanimal extremism is admirable, but won't suit every reader.(Aug.)
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"[Linzey] brings fresh eyes to the tradition, discovers in it unexpected resources, and breathes new life into doctrines that have come to seem antiquated." --Commonweal
"Although a theologian, Linzey is clearly learned in moral philosophy. This ensures that a non-religious reader...does not feel excluded...Linzey's book provides a fine introduction to why animal suffering matters. It could, and arguably should, be utilised by universities, schools, and laypeople alike." --Times Higher Education
"A very compelling philosophical argument for the case for extending moral solicitude to all sentient beings...Far from being sentimental, [Linzey] demonstrates that a real concern for animals can be part of a radical expression of Christian faith." --Independent Catholic News
"Argues compellingly that concern for animals (chiefly mammals and birds) is not merely an emotional matter, but, rather, one that has firm rational basis, with concrete implications for human practice and social policy...The overall quality of the book...is excellent. Its seamless wedding of moral theorizing, cultural criticism, and political analysis is a paradigmatic example of how practical ethics ought to be done, and the power it might have in helping to change ideas and institutions." --Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture
"The book is philosophically sophisticated without being excessively abstruse. It also engages in a serious way with what Christian thinkers and holy texts have said about animals, but without appearing relevant only to those who are committed Christians. It will thus appeal to a very wide range of readers...Linzey's book is a treat. It is written in a smooth and accessible style, and his arguments are, on the whole, lucid and powerful...Why Animal Suffering Matters matters. It is a smart, sensitive book from which academics and non-academics, philosophers and non-philosophers, the religious and the non-religious, and those with passionate and casual interests in animals, all will benefit." --Environmental Ethics
"A great resource if you're looking for an accessible and moderate introduction to a common sense and broad case for taking animal well-being and suffering seriously."--Not One Sparrow
"Andrew Linzey is virtually synonymous with the discipline of animal theology: a discipline that he has legitimate claim to have single-handedly invented. Therefore, we can safely say that a dearth of originality has never been among Linzey's faults. This book, I believe, ranks as one of his finest works--perhaps even the finest. It is original, engaging, and impressive, and comprises a skillful interweaving of theological and ethical argument, systematic analysis, and (mercilessly destructive) criticism of hugely significant public documents on hunting with dogs, fur farming, and commercial sealing, underwritten by a form of Chomskyan social criticism." --Mark Rowlands, Professor of Philosophy, University of Miami
"Philosophically astute, theologically sensitive, and eminently readable, the Reverend Professor Linzey's innovative thesis is that, far from grounding a secondary moral significance to animals, their (alleged) lakc of reasoning and linguistic capacities to argue for treating them with the care and concern that we extend to our very young. This is required reading for not only those interested in the plight of animals, but also for all who reflect upon how a moral life should be lived." --Mark H. Bernstein, Joyce and Edward E. Brewer Chair of Applied Ethics at Purdue University
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Top Customer Reviews
Reverend Andrew Linzey: A Brilliant ethicist gets to the root of social mechanisms that perpetuate animal suffering & why it is important to recognize animals as sentient individuals & why animal suffering matters. This book should be among the number one choice books of all books on behalf of animals. This book is also an in-depth study of how our past & current western views on animals have influenced & influence the way things are as well as an in-depth & comprehensive study of our how society excludes animals and why this should not be the case. This book is not a theological account but rather very much a comprehensive study & a very deep non-religious ethical study that does include theological theories. Says Philosopher Joel Marks in his review of this book, "Linzey is very much the analytic philosopher in the way he employs logic to assist his opponents in being hoisted by their own petards. This is where philosophers typically come into their own, since the premises of an argument often rely on empirical knowledge, which is not our accustomed turf. Linzey must be especially commended, therefore, for the extensive groundwork he has done in researching the factual territory of his case studies."
I am a HUGE fan of Reverend Andrew Linzey who is both an accomplished ethicist and theologian. In this book Reverend Andrew Linzey DEEP DIVES into EVEN MORE powerful intellectual, ethical and theological arguments on behalf of valuing animal suffering and WHY IT DOES INDEED MATTER VERY MUCH (See Animal Gospel by Andrew Linzey). It is not enough to recognize that animals suffer, but it is crucial to learn WHY their suffering has value. WITH VERY SOLID ARGUMENTS on behalf of animals and why they should be viewed as special or exceptional cases, Linzey sets very solid grounds for why animal suffering matters. Reverend Andrew Linzey examines animal exploitation and suffering, views past and present philosophers, clergy, ethicists, etc., gets to the very roots of the problem, and states a very very powerful and complete case on behalf of animals who suffer at the hands of human beings. I want to stress the importance of education in the fight against the oppression of animals. Without proper knowledge and the willingness to learn about the mechanisms behind control and oppression of animals, the battle for animal liberation will not be won. There are just too many hidden determinents not always understood by the average activist. That is why I stress reading these highly educational books. Only through education does one learn what is behind oppressive attitudes, actions and speech, and only through education does one learn how to respond and help change the world.
Andrew Linzey transends all narrow Christian views, and this book is indeed suitable and recommended for people of all faiths and especially the non religious who are indeed serious about learning about animal suffering in today's society. There are indeed a few strictly Christian views, and the identification with the crucifixion of Jesus as the crucifixion of love and compassion, the blameless, the innocent and the pure is indeed a central part of this thesis, but as a whole, this book transends Christianity, and I highly recommend Andrew Linzey's books as MUST BUYS! As a person who has lived in Italy, I want to stress, as does Reverend Linzey, that the Church's role in animal oppression should not be underestimated or disregarded. In fact, the Church's silence indeed sends a very forceful message of control and oppression.
In this book, Reverend Andrew Linzey goes into deep hell researching almost all aspects of negative human attitudes and theories toward animals that justify cruelty toward animals and then shines a brilliant light on these failings that leave abusers absolutely no place to hide.
Here below I will include some excerpts or samples of Andrew Linzey's writings taken from this book. I believe the best way to sell sweet grapes is to offer samples, so here goes:
"The practical upshot is that we cannot continue to privilege human suffering as if it stands alone as a unique source of moral concern. Some animal friendly philosophers advance solicitude for animals on the basis that they are, inter alia, like us. But my thesis is that their very alterity in many respects should underpin their moral claim."
I am including very few selected passges of John Henry Newman, vicar of St. Mary's University Church in 1842 that are a part of this book.
"but there is something so very dreadful, so satanic in tormenting those who have never harmed us, and who cannot defend themselves, who are utterly in our power, who have weapons neither of offence nor defence, that none but very hardened persons can endure the thought of it."
Andrew Linzey continues: ". . . why should the suffering of vulnerable, innocent, unprotected, defenceless beings be judged to be theologically significent?--the answer must be that there is something Christ-like about such suffering."
"Few institutions are morally neutral as regards animals because they reflect and reinforce past attitudes. They act as agents of thought control. What is required is the cultivation of a critical perspective to help counteract the dominant idiology about animals perpetuated by the media in particular."
"(i) Discovering the facts. By learning how facts are distorted or misrepresented, we are enabled to see the underlying perspective that the distortions serve. Fact cannot deliver values, but are important in order to begin ethical analysis."
"(ii) Retaining the focus on the ethical. Defenders of exploitation are adept at sidestepping the ethical issue . . . This is also helped by popular utilitarianism among media spokespeople, based on the assumption that only human suffering really matters."
"The institutions that govern our lives are the result of past vision, or lack of it. But they can and should change."
Animals have been controlled and oppressed by manipulative definitions that distort our perceptions.
"The power of misdescription"
"The first is what Denys Turner has called 'that most powerful of human tools, the power of misdescription.' In a paper provacatively titled 'How to Kill People,' he argues:"
"' . . . if we propose to kill a fellow human being and justify it, we have to redescribe him in such a way that he no longer belongs to us, becomes an alien being . . . . and in that way the inhibition against killing is effectively weakened.'"
Reverend Andrew Linzey makes reference to the media's connection in animal suffering. Indeed, I wrote the TV stations letting them know they should not treat hunting as if it were a matter of course. Bow and arrow hunting and any form of recreational hunting is a ghastly form of cruelty. It is a culture of cruelty and violence disguised under a heap of euphemisms and misrepresentations.
There is reference to the fact that it has been argued animals lack language as possessed by human beings. To this argument it is justly argued by Linzey that human language is not an unambiguous good: it can be used to spread falsity and deceit and is not an unmixed moral good. "The apparent inability of animals to deceive themselves might, on a less prejudiced understanding of the world, place them in a higher moral category." I believe it is an Eastern view that silence is the most perfect speech. In fact, love is given in silence--it does not require speech. (See Power vs. Force--a book.) Linzey in his Conclusion states: " . . . I haven't outlined the full case for animals, which now increasingly accepts scientific evidence that they are, for example, rational to some degree and display greater capacities for cognition and self-awareness than previously supposed." He later continues: "I fully accept that the case for animals may, and probably will, be buttressed by the further questioning of at least some of the differences that are now widely accepted." Then he later continues: "The case, even and especially dependent only on traditional formulations, is strong enough to deserve a hearing now, and should result in major changes to the way we treat animals."
In Chapter 2 titled: How We Minimize Animal Suffering and How We Can Change, Linzey's aim is to: "identify and illustrate what might be described as . . . "intellectual mechanisms that prevent us form recognizing sentience in animals or that help to limit its significance." "Second, I aim to consider ways in which animal abuse is socially perpetuated through the phenomenom called 'instutionalisation.'"
Under the subtitles of 1. The power of misdescription, 2. The power of misrepresentation, 3. The power of misdirection, 4. The power of misperception, Linzey goes to great lengths in analyzing social mechanisms that minimize and perpetuate animal suffering.
Another excellent point from this book:
"But is it true that rational comprehension always or generally heightens suffering? The general claim is less well founded." Linzey later continues, "They experience the raw terror of not knowing." " . . . the frustration of their natural freedoms may well induce more suffering than we allow. Human suffering, on the other hand, can be softened by an intellectual comprehension of the circumstances." Linzey, of course, continues with more very insightful ethical examples and arguments.
In the Conclusion, Linzey points out defects in Singer's ethical arguments (PETA's Singer): "1. flies in the face of the historic trajectory of concern for animals and children as constituting a common cause; 2. fuels the popular, but misguided, veiw that concern for animals is misanthropy or leads to the displacement of human rights; and 3. places in juxtaposition one of the strongest theoretcial commonalities of ethical concern." (I know some hunters like to use the misanthropy "card" so they can continue having "rights" to laugh and enjoy shooting arrows into the faces of deer). This is what I dearly love about Linzey: he transends Christianity and even transends today's leading animal-friendly ethicists.
Andrew Linzey is an accomplished ethicist in his own right, and he is also an accomplished theologian. Linzey is a genius--he's absolutely brilliant, and you will NOT find a better leader or author in the animal liberation movement. He has dedicated more than 40 years to the animal liberation movement, has incredible insight, knowledge, does incredible research, and I HIGHLY recommend two of his other books, "Animal Gospel" another unbelieveably excellent book, and "Animal Theology."
I suggest to fully appreciate this very brilliant man, brilliant ethicist, British Priest, Professor, and theologian who has great knowledge, a great mind, who does incredible research, represents Christianity as it should be, gets to the very roots of animal abuse and puts it all in writing. All you have to do is read this book. How easy does it get?! As I have mentioned in my previous reviews on Andrew Linzey's books, we did not have such studies and powerful allies to the animal rights movement back in the 60's. There were people and organizations that were unfolding, but I felt totally alone at 15 when a doctor defended vivisection by stating animals do not suffer--only humans suffer. Today, this statement is viewed as rubish, but I felt helpless and angry at the time. Young people should take full advantage of the education available and spiritually powerful and educated people and writers--especially Andrew Linzey--to learn from and spread this knowledge. All the darkness in the universe cannot snuff out the light of a single candle. In fact Linzey says, "Ever more sophisticated arguments, with greater and greater nuance, can be devised in defence of the indefensible, so even breathtakingly obvious acts of barbarity can acquire an appearance of intellectual respectability." Activists need these kinds of books and allies as intellectual amunition to cast light upon the darkness.
(I had anticipated using the title of this review, "Raising the Bar" and "Beyond the Expected" for "Levitate," Bruce Hornsby's new album, but I will instead use this title to honor this far more deserving book. (See my take on hunting & Bruce's lyrics in my "Levitate" review and in my profile. Linzey's ethics on Hunting in my "Levitate" review are included in this book.)
Note: Vivisection in Italy is done on fully-awake dogs--their vocal cords are cut in order that they do not disturb the medical students at the medical schools. This is still going on today as it was going on 40 years ago--under the eyes of the Catholic Church.
States Mark Rowlands, Professor of Philosophy, University of Miami, "This book, I believe ranks as one of his finest works--perhaps even the finest."
I don't have a Bible that includes the apocrypha
Still, full marks to the author for his commitment
Just seems a shame quite a few of his claims I find hard to relate to
Edit 2015. Having read a few more books on the subject matter, I would now recommend "Taking Animals Seriously" by David DeGrazia as an alternative to this book. DeGrazia doesn't come at the question from a theological angle but from a secular philosophical angle. His book is scholarly and well written, and quite possibly the most comprehensive philosophical work on the issue. One can skip Singer and Regan as their thoughts are discussed in detail in this book as well.