Ethics and Animals: An Introduction
Gruen (Lori)
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Amazon Product Description

  1. How do other animals experience their environments? What might they be thinking? Lori Gruen weaves together case studies with accessible ethical analysis to help us to reflect critically on our obligations to other animals. Her book offers a comprehensive resource for students and an engaging account for general readers.
  2. In this comprehensive introduction to animal ethics, Lori Gruen weaves together poignant and provocative case studies with discussions of ethical theory, urging readers to engage critically and empathetically reflect on our treatment of other animals. In clear and accessible language, Gruen provides a survey of the issues central to human-animal relations and a reasoned new perspective on current key debates in the field. She analyses and explains a range of theoretical positions and poses challenging questions that directly encourage readers to hone their ethical reasoning skills and to develop a defensible position about their own practices. Her book will be an invaluable resource for students in a wide range of disciplines including ethics, environmental studies, veterinary science, women's studies, and the emerging field of animal studies and is an engaging account of the subject for general readers with no prior background in philosophy.

Amazon Customer Review
  1. With the publication of Ethics and Animals1: An Introduction, Lori Gruen sets a new standard on introductory texts on animal ethics. As a professional philosopher who works on and teaches animal ethics, I have waited years for a book like this. "Ethics and Animals" breaks new ground and offers fresh ideas in a discussion that has, in many ways, become somewhat stagnant. This comprehensive, opinionated introduction fills a much-needed lacuna in the literature, providing a model of clarity and balance that the subject requires.
  2. Each chapter opens with a compelling account (some poignant, others utterly gripping (I will never forget the images of Val Plumwood's near-fatal encounter with a crocodile!)) that describes the experiences of a particular animal (human or other), and that acts to establish the theme of the chapter.
  3. In chapter 5, 'Dilemmas of Captivity' (one of the many highlights of the book), Gruen breaks new ground as she develops what is a nuanced and original view regarding one of the most fraught topics in the animal ethics literature.
  4. Gruen manages to engage the reader with beautiful prose, clear and convincing argumentation, and a sense of fairness and objectivity not often encountered in books on animal ethics. It is rare to find a scholar of such prominence in her field who is able to articulate what are often quite recondite concepts and arguments with such style, clarity, and simplicity, without forgoing the kind of intellectual rigor that this subject demands. I highly recommend this book.

    Preface – xiii
  1. Why animals matter – 1
    • Analyzing human exceptionalism – 4
    • Who is ethically considerable? – 25
    • Attending to other animals – 33
  2. The natural and the normative – 44
    • Doing what comes naturally – 47
    • Species and speciesism – 50
    • Humans and persons – 55
    • Moral agents and moral patients – 60
    • The argument from marginal cases – 64
  3. Eating animals – 76
    • The evolution of industrial agriculture – 78
    • Living and dying on factory farms – 82
    • Arguments against factory farms – 86
    • Is vegetarianism ethically required? – 92
  4. Experimenting with animals – 105
    • The pursuit of knowledge – 108
    • Changing attitudes and developing regulations – 111
    • Animal pain and psychological well-being – 114
    • Weighing values – 118
    • Abolition of animal experimentation – 126
  5. Dilemmas of captivity – 130
    • Zoos – 136
    • Liberty – 141
    • Autonomy – 144
    • Wild dignity – 151
    • Companion animals – 155
    • Sanctuary – 158
  6. Animals in the wild – 163
    • Extinction – 166
    • The value of species – 169
    • Conflicts between humans and wild animals – 174
    • Conflicts between animals – 179
    • Conflicts between native species and non-native species – 185
  7. Animal protection – 188
    • Can the ends justify the means? – 192
    • Strategies for fighting speciesism – 195
    • Empathetic action – 205
  8. References – 207
    Index – 224


Cambridge University Press (3 Feb 2011) - Cambridge Applied Ethics

"Gruen (Lori) - Ethics and Animals: An Introduction"

Source: Gruen (Lori) - Ethics and Animals: An Introduction

Author’s Preface (Full Text)
  1. Explorations of our ethical relations to other animals go back to antiquity, but it wasn't until the 1970s, in the wake of social justice struggles for racial and gender equality, that animal ethics was taken up seriously by philosophers and other theorists and the modern animal rights1 movement was born. When I first started working on animal ethics it was still somewhat on the fringe of both the academy and society more generally, so it is really exciting for me to see a whole academic field emerge, called "animal studies," and to watch animal ethics become more mainstream. So much theoretical work has been done in the last ten or so years, that I think it is safe to say we are now in the "second wave" of animal ethics.
  2. Introductory texts should try to present all reasonable sides of an issue and I believe I have done that in the pages that follow. However, because I have been thinking, writing, and teaching about animal ethics for over two decades I have well-worked-out views on the issues I present in this book and, as I tell my students, it would be disingenuous to pretend otherwise, so I do not try to hide my considered judgments. My commitment is obvious - other animals deserve our moral attention and their lives matter - and this is the perspective that shapes this book. I do not take one particular philosophical position and explore it in depth in this volume, however. Rather, given that there are competing ethical issues in play and many conflicts of values that are not obviously or readily resolvable, I try to highlight the ethical complexity of our interactions with and obligations to other animals as well as to point to some of the limitations of popular ethical approaches. Even among those who believe that animals matter, there is disagreement. I have explored some of the disagreement within animal ethics here, but of course I couldn't cover everything. Many will disagree with the arguments I present, but one of my goals is to provide readers with enough arguments and information to help them to develop their own views that they then feel confident defending.
  3. There is a tendency in almost any ethical discussion to flatten out or oversimplify opposing views and to caricature opponents. This is certainly the case in discussions of animal ethics. For example, those opposed to research on animals often think that all of those who use animals for scientific purposes are insensitive to animals and to animal rights2 advocates. I have found this isn't true. Similarly, zoo advocates tend to lump everyone who opposes captivity together - as radicals who would rather all animals become extinct than subject them to imprisonment. I have found this isn't true either. It's a lot simpler to think of things as strictly dichotomous; it certainly is a lot simpler to write as if that is so, and I'm afraid I do sometimes oversimplify theoretical positions, particularly when I am trying to make a philosophical point as precisely as possible. But, in reality, most positions are much more nuanced and the people who hold various positions about animals fall along a spectrum. And, people's attitudes about other animals are not always consistent. I have friends who have dedicated their lives to protecting and rescuing some animals who also eat other animals. I know vegetarians who experiment on animals and vegans who support regularly killing animals in certain contexts. This variety makes teaching animal ethics particularly interesting. Unlike many philosophical topics, we are all implicated in the practices that I examine in this book.
  4. I have organized the book in a way that I think is both accessible to the interested reader and helpful to those who would like to use this book in the classroom. Each chapter starts with a vignette that raises some of the ethical issues that will be explored in the chapter. I think it is particularly important in teaching and thinking about ethics that we don't allow theory to get too far removed from practice. Information about real-world ethical problems should shape our philosophical reflections, so I often seek out expert (non-philosophical) insights and knowledge about practices. Philosopher Henry Sidgwick said it best, I think:
      Our aim is to frame an ideal of the good life ... and to do this satisfactorily and completely we must have adequate knowledge of the conditions of this life in all the bewildering complexity and variety in which it is actually being lived … we can only do this by a comprehensive and varied knowledge of the actual opportunities and limitations, the actual needs and temptations, the actually constraining customs and habits, desires, and fears ... and this knowledge a philosopher - whose personal experience is often very limited - cannot adequately attain unless he earnestly avails himself of opportunities of learning from the experiences of [others] ... the philosopher's practical judgment on particular problems is likely to be untrustworthy, unless it is aided and controlled by the practical judgment of others who are not philosophers.
  5. I have sought out information and "practical judgment" right up to the last minute, to keep the discussion as up to date as possible. I have also included my own experiences working with animals and the insights of people who are involved in many different aspects of the issues discussed here - e.g., those who work in labs, those who work at zoos, those who oppose the use of animals in labs, those who oppose zoos, those who care directly for animals in shelters and sanctuaries, those who study animals in the wild.
  6. If this book is to be used as a textbook, the chapters lend themselves to being taught in quite different ways, depending on the nature of the course and the interests of the instructor.
    • The first two chapters present the ethical arguments that are at the heart of discussions about the extent and nature of our obligations to other animals. Though these chapters are self-contained, teachers may wish to supplement these chapters with texts that explore the history of ethics, topics in animal cognition, comparative psychology, philosophy of biology, disability studies, or texts that directly challenge anthropocentrism. The remaining chapters allow for similar supplementation depending on the instructor's interest.
    • Chapter 3 would lend itself to a larger discussion of the ethics of killing or the philosophy of food.
    • In Chapter 4 I only touch briefly on the topic of pain, on which a great deal of interesting philosophical and scientific work has been done; veterinary medicine also has much to contribute here. There are also topics in the history and philosophy of science into which this chapter provides an entree.
    • Chapter 5 might be supplemented with more in-depth discussions of autonomy, political philosophy, or topics in the philosophy of mind.
    • Chapter 6 could be the basis for a nice module on environmental philosophy and conservation biology.
    • Chapter 7 deals with animal activism, and there is much more that might be said about legal protection for other animals as well as the relation of animal activism to other forms of social justice activism.
    Of course, these are just suggestions; I hope that the book is useful to those teaching animal studies from a variety of disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives.
  7. I need to make a few comments about terminology. The term "animal" has been contested as it is used in very different ways. Often it is meant to exclude humans, but, of course, humans are animals. The term is so vast, it contains so many different organisms, that it is sometimes too general a term to be very useful. To be more specific, sometimes writers, including myself, use "non-human animal" to refer to other animals. Some argue that this sets humans above other animals. To rectify this, sometimes people use the term "other than human animals3," but this is rather bulky. I use "other animals" as often as makes sense. I also use "non-human animals" and just "animals" sometimes too.
  8. Some philosophers separate the "ethical" from the "moral." I use these terms interchangeably here.
  9. I also want to bring to your attention my use of pronouns. In gender studies, pronoun use is a particularly important topic, as the use of gender-neutral and gender-inclusive pronouns, or, more precisely, the lack of their use, have implications beyond grammar. In animals studies, the struggle is moving from "it," which refers to inanimate objects, to "he" or "she." It is tricky when it isn't clear what sex the particular individual to whom I am referring is, so sometimes I will refer to an animal whose sex I don't know as "he," sometimes as "she." Speaking of "whom," my spellcheck constantly reminds me of the error of my pronoun use in sentences in which I referred to animals as "who" rather than "that." I ignored the spellcheck.
  10. Although I have been thinking and working on the topics I present here for many years, at times, working on this book made me very sad. We humans have done unnecessary and incredibly cruel things to other animals. While reviewing the history of animal experimentation and zoos, evaluating the current state of animal agriculture, reporting on the bushmeat crisis and rates of extinction, it occasionally felt that ethical discussion could barely scratch the surface of our entrenched callous practices, and the task of changing such practices often seems insurmountable. But, being in the presence of other animals, experiencing their incredible capacities for forgiveness, knowing remarkable people who spend their lives improving animal lives, and working with students who are eager to try to make a difference, gives me hope. Part of my hope is that this book will help readers to rethink their relationships with other animals and perhaps move you to do one thing, every day, to make the world better for all animals, human and non-human.

"Moss (Justin) - Review of 'Ethics and Animals: An Introduction' by Lori Gruen"

Source: Metapsychology On-Line

Full Text1
  • Ethics and Animals: An Introduction is a fine introduction to a set of issues concerning the variety of ways that humans interact with, treat, and sometimes exploit non-human animals. While Gruen brings the resources of both empirical science and normative ethical theory to bear on the issues, her book is clearly written, non-technical, and suitable for a general audience, including students from a variety of disciplines, and the reference list provides excellent resources for further reading.
  • The book is divided into seven chapters, each one dealing with a different ethical issue (or set of issues). Gruen discusses, in the order that these issues come in the book,
    1. Why animals deserve moral consideration;
    2. Why the fact that humans seem to naturally favor their own interests over those of animals does not imply that it is ethical for humans to do so;
    3. Whether it is ethical to eat animals and what to do about factory farming;
    4. Whether animals should be used in (often deadly) scientific research;
    5. How to deal with animals that have been kept in captivity;
    6. How to resolve conflicts over land and resources between humans and animals2, and between some sets of animals and others; and finally,
    7. How activists concerned with animal welfare ought to work toward their goals.
    Throughout the book, one of Gruen's recurring themes is to analyze the dynamic of "speciesism" - the prejudicial attitude that the interests of one's own species rank more highly than the interests of other species or an individual member of another species.
  • The book has several virtues that I value highly in an introductory text. Aside from the virtue of clarity mentioned above, I think it is valuable that Gruen's introduction to animal ethics is an opinionated one. Among her conclusions: humans owe animals ethical consideration. A wide range of animal-related enterprises, such as zoos or commercial pet-selling, ought to either be done away with or have their purpose seriously re-thought. One generally ought not to eat animals, even if they have lived good lives and died of natural causes. (Gruen grants that it is possible that respecting animals and eating animals are compatible, but that compatibility seems to be limited to situations where eating animals is a necessity; she does not grant that compatibility to urban locavores who raise and slaughter animals themselves.) Though these conclusions are at odds with the way most humans interact with animals, they are carefully reasoned and never simply polemically asserted. In my experience, having a clear position invites the reader to examine one's reasoning more closely, and that is pedagogically important. A careful consideration of the book's opening argument serves to illustrate this point, since the rest of the book depends on this argument's conclusion.
  • In the first chapter, Gruen identifies and analyzes a philosophical view she refers to as "human exceptionalism" -- the view that human beings are the only beings deserving of ethical concern, and that humans have no ethical responsibilities to non-human animals. Underlying this position are two presumptions; one, that humans possess some trait that animals do not, and two, that possession of this trait entitles humans to membership in the moral community. Gruen rejects both presumptions. She presents a list of candidates for a trait that differentiates humans and animals -- among them, language use and tool-making -- and casts doubt on all of these traits by presenting the reader with cases demonstrating that the trait at issue cannot do the work that the human exceptionalist wants. With regard to the second presumption, Gruen argues that not all human beings possess the traits that the human exceptionalist wants to appeal to. For example, saying that humans are exceptional because they use language seems to imply that humans who do not use language are not deserving of moral consideration. Her treatment of this issue is compelling and highly plausible.
  • Occasionally, Gruen objects to the "bar-raising dialectic" of these discussions - that is, the practice of introducing a candidate for a differentiating trait that marks humans as special, and then refining the definition of that trait when presented with a counterexample. (Humans use language; animals don't. Oh, there are animals which can use language? Fine; but those animals don't use sentences like we do.) Now, in fairness to those interested in defending the possible existence of such a trait, it is important that alternative explanations be considered and exhausted. A simple charge of moving the goalposts against her opponents wouldn't be enough to make Gruen's case. Fortunately, for all the goalpost movings that she mentions, Gruen provides counterexamples which clearly cast doubt on the ability of such traits to do the differentiating work the human exceptionalist wants them to do.
  • From a pedagogical standpoint, the fact that this discussion comes first is very valuable. The first thought that many people have when considering ethical issues involving animals is that humans and their interests matter in a way that animals and their interests don't. Most people, in my experience, believe that we owe some kind of minimally decent treatment to animals, even if they do not much care about any of the particular issues Gruen writes about. So long as we do not cause animals unnecessary suffering, they think, we can generally do what we like with them, whether we eat them, hunt them, keep them in zoos, or use them for research. Thus, most people are not extreme human exceptionalists. But this thought may be generally indicative of the prevalence of a moderate kind of human exceptionalism. After all, one can be a human exceptionalist and believe that we ought not to treat animals poorly, since how we treat animals has implications for how we treat humans - or so Immanuel Kant thought. Gruen presents the reader, however, with a sustained argument against the underpinnings of this widely-held view. For teaching a class on animal ethics, or teaching animal ethics in a broader course on ethics, this can be quite useful. Even if one ultimately disagrees with Gruen's conclusions, her arguments are an invitation to the reader and student to refine and strengthen their own position.

COMMENT: Review of "Gruen (Lori) - Ethics and Animals: An Introduction".

In-Page Footnotes ("Moss (Justin) - Review of 'Ethics and Animals: An Introduction' by Lori Gruen")

Footnote 1: I’ve added some links to my Notes for testing purposes.

Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
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