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Animal Liberation
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60 of 66 people found the following review helpful
on 31 March 2003
This books is widely credited for setting off the animal "rights" movement. Singer really brought the issue into the public arena, and caused people to question their presumptuous beliefs - this book was first published in 1975, and sparked off the writing of literally hundreds of other books about animal "rights". He describes our traditional view of animals as "speciesist" - arbitrarily discriminating simply on the basis of species - comparable to sexist or racist views. In the book he argues rationally and convincingly for animal "rights". Although a work of philosophy, the book is written to be easily accessible to the lay-person.
The book explains why we must extend our moral principles to other animals, describes the cruelty occuring in laboratories and factory farms, tells how and why we should become vegetarians, gives a short history of our views of animals and where they came from, and refutes common arguments against animal "rights".
In the 1990 preface to this book, Singer writes of its arguments "I have lectured on them, given talks to conferences and philosophy department seminars, and discussed them at length, both verbally and in print; but I have come across no insurmountable objections, nothing that has led me to think that the simple ethical arguments on which the book is based are anything but sound. It has been encouraging to find that many of my most respected philosophical peers agree with this view - so many, in fact, that in reviewing the revised edition Colin McGinn, who holds a distinguished chair of philosophy at Rutgers University, described the ethical core of the book as, in theory if not in practice, 'a won argument'".
If you find that hard to believe, then read the book and see if you can refute its claims!
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44 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on 17 October 2005
I read this book partly out of curiosity and partly out of a wish to confront a position that I found challenging to my own hazy sense of ethics. Specifically, I love cooking but was beginning to wonder if I didn't eat more meat than was really a good idea.
The fundamental insight I got from Singer's book is that the human tendency to elevate the interests of our species over those of other species is an entirely irrational prejudice, with no authority other than tradition. This is not to say that the interests of other species are always to be preferred to our own - that would also be illogical. But they must be taken into consideration, if our ethics are to have any rationality whatsoever.
As far as I'm concerned, this argument demolishes the objection often made to Singer's work by e.g. some religious people - that his concern for animals, coupled with his belief that abortion is sometimes morally justified, means that he "dehumanises" people, or "lowers them to the level of animals". The unspoken assumption here is that humans are self-evidently above animals to begin with. This argument fits much ancient theology but is not consistent with reason (or, it might be added, with science). It is nothing more than bigotry for religious authorities to claim that humans are in any way superior to other creatures.
So did it turn me into a vegetarian? No. I probably read too much Nietzsche when I was young. But I know now that the continued presence of meat in my diet is the result of nothing other than force and self-interest working in harmony. Humans eat meat because they can get away with it, and any other attempt to justify it is hypocrisy. One day, when I can't live any longer with the contradiction, I'll probably become a vegetarian, but in the meantime I have to find more ways of making mushrooms interesting.
Incidentally, Singer is also eloquent about the sheer wastefulness and incompetence of the meat industry. If we didn't eat so many hamburgers, it would be possible to do a lot more for the starving in the rest of the world. (If beef, pork, lamb and chicken were farmed less intensively and more in harmony with traditional methods, we would undoubtedly pay more for them, but they'd also start tasting better. But unsurprisingly, Singer doesn't make that particular point.)
This is undoubtedly one of the most challenging and rigorous works of philosophy of the last century. Insofar as it has a power of making us examine our own attitudes and behaviour, it's also one of the best.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Singers books is a great philosophical assault on the taken for granted views that the human rests upon a superior loft and those creatures which exist downwardly are there for the taking. Forget the post modern fragmentation of debate - here Singer talks about the destruction of the world as we know it,
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41 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on 18 June 2001
Well, I was already converted, but I have found that I now have the ability to present a coherent argument on the subject, thanks to this book.
Those books that claim you'll have given up smoking by the end? Pah! This is the animal equivalent. As a scientist I really appreciate the logical structure and the strength of some of the scientific arguments, but the book is a really easy read - on all levels but an emotional one, so it's one of those rare books that will appeal to anyone with an open mind.
If you think you can't be changed - take the challenge!
Julian
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 4 February 2015
Thought provoking and informative.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 19 February 2012
If you are into animal law than this is the right book.You might even become a vegetarian after reading this book. good customer service from amazon plus delivery was fast.
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15 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 22 February 2006
It makes people feel bad for the disgraceful animals without appealing or look so emotional.
He uses only reasons and the most powerful arguments I´ve seen somebody defending.
I've already became a vegetarian before reading it, but the book gave me the perfect reasons to keep on this diet for the rest of my life.
Singer is a guy blessed with intelligence and power of convinciment. Even a slaughterhouse owner should agree with 90% which is in the book.
Some try to dismiss Singer as a nazi, who would defend testing in disabled people or orphan babies than in pigs or dogs. Those people or have bad intentions or don´t have a clue, cause what Singer does is exactly the other way, claiming the animals should have many rights we have, and not that we should destroy weaker humans like we do on that creatures.
The book is heavy, cruel, sometimes you feel very bad and if you really love animals, have to close it and continue another day. But we live in a real world, and we must read serious subjects.
It´s one to avoid if you are afraid of the reality. If you have a strong sense of justice, this book will make you disturbed and encourage you to do something. Should be in all public libraries in the world.
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9 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 21 June 2005
This book shows how we contribute to cruelty toward animals if we continue eating meat from industrial production, don't boycott cosmetics that test on animals and live in ignorance.
Peter Singer beat everybody with his ethical arguments.
I became vegetarian after reading it.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 5 January 2015
Interesting book, good read for any zoology student - a real eye opener, yet you must bare in mind that it is a biased opinion. But i think i am a better zoologist for reading it
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 22 November 2007
Quite simply this book changed my life. I have never read anything like it. Exceptional, important, morally bang on, inspirational - as they say, the Bible of the movement. Buy it! And buy one for all your friends and family while you're at it too. You won't look back.
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