The Animal Question

The Animal Question : Why Nonhuman Animals Deserve Human Rights

4.22 (9 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author)  , Translated by 

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How much do animals matter-morally? Can we keep considering them as second class beings, to be used merely for our benefit? Or, should we offer them some form of moral egalitarianism? Inserting itself into the passionate debate over animal rights, this fascinating, provocative work by renowned scholar Paola Cavalieri advances a radical proposal: that we extend basic human rights to the nonhuman animals we currently treat as "things." Cavalieri first goes back in time, tracing the roots of the debate from the 1970s, then explores not only the ethical but also the scientific viewpoints, examining the debate's precedents in mainstream Western philosophy. She considers the main proposals of reform that recently have been advanced within the framework of today's prevailing ethical perspectives. Are these proposals satisfying? Cavalieri says no, claiming that it is necessary to go beyond the traditional opposition between utilitarianism and Kantianism and focus on the question of fundamental moral protection. In the case of human beings, such protection is granted within the widely shared moral doctrine of universal human rights' theory.
Cavalieri argues that if we examine closely this theory, we will discover that its very logic extends to nonhuman animals as beings who are owed basic moral and legal rights and that, as a result, human rights are not human after all.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 192 pages
  • 140 x 212 x 12mm | 258.55g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195173651
  • 9780195173659
  • 1,239,592

Review quote

"This short, elegent, and well-focused book does exactly what it says on the jacket, both front and back, and puts the case for attributing basic human rights to animals. Unlike many who take this side, Cavalieri's argument, set firmly and openly within the analytic tradition, is austere and rigorous throughout, and has none of the hyperbole, the tugging at heart-strings, the harsh detailing that characterizes much that is written in defense of animals."-Notre
Dame Philosophical Reviews "A brilliant, concise statement of the argument for attributing basic rights to animals, and a significant new contribution to the current debate. Ms. Cavalieri shows that contemporary discussions in ethics and bioethics risk arbitrariness or incoherence because they have failed to tackle the issue of the status of animals. From now on, opponents of animal rights must try to answer Ms. Cavalieri's argument, and anyone writing in bioethics will have to meet her
challenge."-Peter Singer, Princeton University
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About Paola Cavalieri

Paola Cavalieri is editor of the international philosophy journal Etica & Animali, and has published widely in the area of applied ethics. She co-edited, with Peter Singer, the award-winning 1993 book The Great Ape Project: Equality Beyond Humanity.
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Rating details

9 ratings
4.22 out of 5 stars
5 56% (5)
4 22% (2)
3 11% (1)
2 11% (1)
1 0% (0)
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