Animal Rights Movement in America: From Compassion to Respect

Animal Rights Movement in America: From Compassion to Respect

by Lawrence Finsen, Susan Finsen
     
 

Advocacy for the welfare of animals goes back a long way in the United States - and even farther in Great Britain and Europe - but it was only in the 1970s and 1980s that the idea of animals possessing fundamental rights was presented to the public in the form of demonstrations, raids on laboratories, and civil disobedience. Whereas the humane movement has promoted… See more details below

Overview

Advocacy for the welfare of animals goes back a long way in the United States - and even farther in Great Britain and Europe - but it was only in the 1970s and 1980s that the idea of animals possessing fundamental rights was presented to the public in the form of demonstrations, raids on laboratories, and civil disobedience. Whereas the humane movement has promoted kindness toward animals while refraining from challenging the assumption of human superiority, the animal rights movement demands the abolition of institutions that exploit animals, eschewing the doctrine of "kindness" for that of justice and equality. And the movement's challenge to rethink the "uses" of animals is not only directed at those individuals and institutions which exploit animals but at anyone who consumes meat, purchases animal-tested consumer products, or wears fur or leather. In this fascinating social history of the animal rights movement, philosophers Lawrence and Susan Finsen seek to clarify the movement's major ideas, the kinds of activism that have emerged within it, the response of those threatened by its ideas, and its future challenges. They stress that one of the primary characteristics of contemporary institutional use of animals - whether in agriculture, in fur trapping and ranching, or in scientific and commercial experimentation - is that most of it is hidden from public view. The Finsens begin with an overview and history of the movement before the 1980s and then profile various animal rights organizations (such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Animal Liberation Front), describing these groups' tactics and campaigns. They next look at activism of the last couple of decades through which the movement has made considerable strides, particularly the Silver Spring monkeys case and that of the University of Pennsylvania Head Injury Laboratory. The opposition to the animal rights movement - from factory farms to the American Medical Association - is likew

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The authors, both philosophers and activists, document the evolution of what has consistently been a controversial, sometimes explosive social movement. While the Finsens trace the movement's beginnings back to the late 19th century, they focus largely on the nearly two decades following the 1975 publication of Peter Singer's Animal Liberation. In clear and thorough fashion, they discuss moral concerns that have become ever more pressing in a century that has witnessed a precipitous increase in the use of animals for agriculture and research and as pets. Discussing major campaigns such as the anti-fur movement, the fight against factory farming, the fight against scientific experimentation and the effort to solve pet overpopulation, they also cover both well-known organizations such as PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and ALF (Animal Liberation Front) and the many lesser-known and recently conceived groups. In a section titled ``Other Voices,'' the authors offer an overview of related movements like ecofeminism and opposing viewpoints that argue that sentience is morally irrelevant or that animal rights taken to the nth degree must mean rights for carrots. The final question raised, ``Whither Animal Rights?'' looks at the issues and tactics the animal rights movement will need to address as it strives for universal acceptance. (Sept.)
Brian McCombie
The Finsens profile the various animal-rights groups and their philosophies, goals, and actions. They also provide a readable history of the movement, from its beginning in early philosophy to more concerted and organized efforts in eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century Britain and the U.S. They treat in particular detail several of the most active and influential animal-rights organizations, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Animal Liberation Front. The Finsens also offer a good analysis of books central to the movement, including Singer's "Animal Liberation" (1975) and Regan's "Case for Animal Rights" (1983). Though the authors acknowledge their bias in favor of animal rights, and that bias is especially clear in their discussions of groups and individuals in disagreement with animal-rights advocates, theirs remains an excellent primer on a growing political movement.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780805738834
Publisher:
Cengage Gale
Publication date:
06/28/1994
Series:
Social Movements past and Present Series
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
5.85(w) x 8.81(h) x 1.05(d)

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