Friday, January 15, 2010

I’ve Signed a Deal for My Animal Rights Ethics Book!

I am pleased to announce that my book on animal rights ethics, a philosophy work, will be published, likely some time in 2010 (the book is my main reason for not writing in my blog of late). I have been working on this project for more than 20 years now. It will realize the work promised in “The Rights of Animal Persons,” my essay that appeared in 2006 in what is now called The Journal for Critical Animal Studies, and also in a two-part series of articles in the same journal in which I outline my theory of best caring more rigorously (the second part appears in the next issue).

This book will defend animal rights rigorously. It will give the most sustained and complete defence of best caring yet, answering objections, and also considering competing ethical theories such as utilitarianism, the ethic of care, virtue ethics, ethical egoism, ecoholism, speciesist spirituality, superiorism, moral skepticism, and other views. I will present a case against vivisection, perhaps the thorniest of the animal ethics issues which has never been convincingly dealt with by previous authors. I will also sketch implications of the best caring approach for human animal rights.

The audience of the book will consist of those who read philosophy. This will obviously include certain university students and scholars, and also, say, members of the animal rights movement who are interested in animal ethics. It is written to be clear enough so that a university background is not required. Every animal activist should be interested in animal ethics at some level, since that is what animates the entire movement: moral concern for fellow sentient beings.

From this book, you can learn:

  • how best caring embodies all of the advantages of the competing theories but not their disadvantages
  • how a solution is needed to guarantee human rights at the level of theory too, since past human rights approaches are explicitly shown to fail (these rights theories do not even logically entail rights, nor, say, the refutation of their arch foes, the utilitarians)
  • how to extend the feminist emphasis on “care” but without the fatal objections attendant to relying simply on sympathy and/or empathy in ethics
  • seven refutations of superiorism, my devil’s advocate version of human-centred ethics that has been called the strongest case for humanism by many animal ethics scholars
  • how we can overcome both crude egalitarianism for dilemmas as well as any threat to animal rights in preferring to save “the human over the worm”
  • how deep ecology and animal rights can be reconciled
  • how we might overcome the seemingly ubiquitous and calamitous reliance on intuitions in ethics
  • in what precise sense animal rights may be said to win the debate with their opponents (here’s a clue: it does not involve considering all possible ideas related to animal rights that everyone in the universe is thinking of, has thought of, will think of, and is capable of thinking of--oh, and afterwards, keeping all of that in mind, showing that the ayes have it).

Activists need to rely on dependable research only, and this book intends to help the movement in that capacity given the gap left by intuitionists and other proponents of theories that simply do not work. Not only is there a lack of positive justification for animal rights, but even refutations of contrary theories in the existing literature are logically insufficient, as I point out in the book. Good intentions and popularity are certainly not enough to make a theory work, just as nobility is not enough to refute other views. In the end we need to rely on solid reasoning, and that is what I hope to offer the reading public with this book. We will need a lot of argumentative firepower on our side if we sincerely desire to win over a majority of citizens, academics, members of legislatures, and judiciaries.

There will be a Foreword by distinguished philosopher Michael Allen Fox, author of Deep Vegetarianism, who for years attacked animal liberation philosophy at conferences and in various publications, including his The Case for Animal Experimentation. Nine months after the publication of that book he recanted his views. You can also look forward to an Afterword from Ingrid Newkirk, who is perhaps directly and indirectly responsible for converting more people to animal rights than any other individual on the planet.

The title of the book will remain a secret until the appropriate time, but it is no longer Animal Persons which I regret (for reasons that I will not broach here) that I prematurely announced in “The Rights of Animal Persons."

I hope you will spread the word about this book if you think, like I do, that it will help to win the great cause of liberation.

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