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Animals Like Us [Hardcover]

Mark Rowlands
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Aug. 17 2002 Practical Ethics Series
Foot-and-mouth and mad-cow disease are but two of the results of treating animals as commodities, subject only to commercial constraints and ignoring all natural and moral considerations. Chickens hanging by their necks on conveyor belts, caged pigs with sores, bloated dead sheep with their legs in the air, mutilated dogs waiting to die after undergoing horrendous experiments in the name of science or just product-testing—these are some of the images that illustrate the indifference of a consumerist society to the suffering of animals. Few are willing to recognize that the packaged, sanitized supermarket meat that materializes on their dinner tables every day is the result of an industrial process involving unimaginable pain and suffering. We would be horrified if our pets were harmed, yet every day we eat animals that have been tortured and executed.

Mark Rowlands claims that it is simply unjust to harm animals. As conscious, sentient beings, biologically continuous with humans, they have interests that cannot simply be disregarded. Using simple principles of justice, he argues that animals have moral rights, and examines the consequences of this claim in the contexts of vegetarianism, animal experimentation, zoos and hunting, and animal rights activism.

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Product Description

Review

"...an impressive new work." Andrew Linzey, on Animal Rights "... Rowlands has written an important and provocative book." Lynne Rudder Baker, on The Body and the Mind --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Mark Rowlands is a British writer and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Miami. His many books include The Philosopher and the Wolf.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
I used this book this semester in a course "Ethics & Animals Like Us" (the course title was inspired by this book). The students really liked the book. I think they found him much more readable, easy-to-understand and convincing than Tom Regan or Peter Singer. Rowlands has a rather "hip" writing style as well; more enjoyable than standard academic prose.
Rowland's moral perspective is basically this: an action is morally OK only if you'd be willing to allow it to happen *IF* you didn't know who you were. So, racist actions are wrong because you wouldn't want people to treat you that way if you were of race X; sexist actions are wrong because you wouldn't want to be treated that way if you were of sex Y.
Similarly, if you didn't know if you were a human or a non-human, would you want a system might allow you to suffer greatly and die young so that others could experience the (comparatively trivial) pleasures of eating you? Or would you want a system where you could be tortured and killed in a lab to satisfy some scientists' curiosity, or electrocuted or gassed so someone could wear your skin and try to look cool (but actually look like an idiot)? Definitely not! Rowlands argues that since it would be irrational to choose such a world -- if you didn't know your species -- it's immoral for these things to happen in the actual world. Basically, it comes down to seeing things from the others' point of view, walking in their shoes (or paws).
This is a really great book (the forward by Colin McGinn is excellent as well); everyone should read it and see practical ethics at its best. It should be yet another thorn in the side of those who who torture and kill animals for fun and profit, as well as those who support them, and have nothing of any merit to say in their own defense.
One thing the book lacks is a "for further reading". ...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great book from AK Press! Sept. 26 2002
Format:Paperback
In this clearly argued book, Rowlands claims that it is simply unjust to harm animals. As conscious, sentient beings, biologically continuous with humans, they have interests that simply can't be ignored. Using simple principles of justice, he argues that animals have moral rights, and examines the consequences of this claim in context to vegetarianism, animal experimentation, zoos, hunting, as well as the animal rights activism that has resulted from the recognition by a fairly small group of political activists that animals can't simply be considered in relation to humans.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a livey and entertaining case for for animal rights May 26 2003
By Nathan Nobis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I used this book this semester in a course "Ethics & Animals Like Us" (the course title was inspired by this book). The students really liked the book. I think they found him much more readable, easy-to-understand and convincing than Tom Regan or Peter Singer. Rowlands has a rather "hip" writing style as well; more enjoyable than standard academic prose.
Rowland's moral perspective is basically this: an action is morally OK only if you'd be willing to allow it to happen *IF* you didn't know who you were. So, racist actions are wrong because you wouldn't want people to treat you that way if you were of race X; sexist actions are wrong because you wouldn't want to be treated that way if you were of sex Y.
Similarly, if you didn't know if you were a human or a non-human, would you want a system might allow you to suffer greatly and die young so that others could experience the (comparatively trivial) pleasures of eating you? Or would you want a system where you could be tortured and killed in a lab to satisfy some scientists' curiosity, or electrocuted or gassed so someone could wear your skin and try to look cool (but actually look like an idiot)? Definitely not! Rowlands argues that since it would be irrational to choose such a world -- if you didn't know your species -- it's immoral for these things to happen in the actual world. Basically, it comes down to seeing things from the others' point of view, walking in their shoes (or paws).
This is a really great book (the forward by Colin McGinn is excellent as well); everyone should read it and see practical ethics at its best. It should be yet another thorn in the side of those who who torture and kill animals for fun and profit, as well as those who support them, and have nothing of any merit to say in their own defense.
One thing the book lacks is a "for further reading". ...
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great book from AK Press! Sept. 26 2002
By "ak-friend" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In this clearly argued book, Rowlands claims that it is simply unjust to harm animals. As conscious, sentient beings, biologically continuous with humans, they have interests that simply can't be ignored. Using simple principles of justice, he argues that animals have moral rights, and examines the consequences of this claim in context to vegetarianism, animal experimentation, zoos, hunting, as well as the animal rights activism that has resulted from the recognition by a fairly small group of political activists that animals can't simply be considered in relation to humans.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just What this Issue Needs: Clarity Dec 8 2011
By Josh James - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The sheer diversity of attitudes and beliefs that go by the name "animal rights" can be a bit bewildering. For some, it encompasses any and all acts of kindness or generosity toward non-human animals while, for others, it implies strict adherence to a vegan lifestyle and a strong philosophical foundation.

As I've said before, I find most of the arguments over definitions counter-productive in at least one sense: they inevitably consume valuable time and energy that could be spent actually improving the lives of non-human animals. Just as a starving man doesn't particularly care about, say, the religion of the aid worker giving him a loaf of bread, I doubt shelter animals worry whether the person feeding them is a die-hard vegan. If there's one thing animal rights shouldn't be, it's a contest.

That said, those interested in expanding the conversation about these issues can't help but root around for the sturdiest possible framework in which to discuss them. To employ the phrase "animal rights," it's helpful to know exactly what we mean. The two main contenders, Peter Singer's brand of utilitarian calculus and Tom Regan's Kantian approach, both offer compelling reasons to include non-human animals (or most of them anyway) in our moral sphere of concern.

But Mark Rowlands' book "Animals Like Us" might just provide the simplest method for grounding and calculating our decisions about how we should treat other species. He achieves this feat by borrowing and modifying the social contract theories of John Rawls. A contractarian approach to animals rights seems absurd on first blush. Non-humans are incapable of recognizing contracts, so what's the point? But by importing notions from Singer (utilitarian ethics), Regan (moral patients and moral agents), and Rawls (the original position), Rowlands actually presents a great model we could use to determine our daily ethical responsibilities to animals.

The premise is simple: Imagine you're to design society from behind a "veil of ignorance." You must create its institutions, laws, customs, etc. without knowing what position you will occupy in this society. You could be African-American, white, male, female, transgender, gay, poor, rich, or... a non-human animal. What kind of society would you create? You would try to even the odds that everyone was treated justly. This is the Rawlsian idea that Rowlands uses to examine the legitimacy of practices like factory farming, hunting, zoos, animal experimentation, and activism.

It turns out to be a remarkably powerful and flexible tool. In the book, Rowlands easily dismantles the objections to animals rights one by one by appealing, almost ad nauseum, to this simple principle. A world that allows the horrific practices of factory farming (Rowlands' straightforward descriptions are nightmare inducing) simply is not a rational one. No one operating from behind the veil of ignorance would choose a society where such industries were nurtured and condoned.

Skeptical at first, I eventually warmed to the ideas on offer in "Animals Like Us." It's conversational, jargon-free, and, as far as I can tell, about as unassailable as such books come. Rowlands doesn't waste time on arcane philosophical disputes that usually only serve to muddy an issue that doesn't need muddying.

A philosophy book that makes things clearer... imagine that.
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