05 March 2007

Julian H. Franklin on Animal Rights

I don't expect that many readers will be converted to the cause of animal rights by reading this book. Indeed, the ability of intelligent and educated people to avoid confronting the issue, or to offer endless evasions and rationalizations of delay on a question as straightforward as vegetarianism, even when they have heard and (reluctantly) accepted the argument in favor, is astonishing as well as depressing. If they are to be swayed, the change is likely to come from witnessing the realities of the fate endured by animals. I have not reviewed these horrors here, because so many powerful accounts exist. Nor have I dealt with advances in the legal protection of animals both in practice and in theory. I have focused exclusively on moral theory.

Nevertheless, I believe that a good theoretical argument is worth the effort. It can reassure the committed, help the uncertain to decide, and arm the debater. There is a vital long-term benefit as well. If the idea of animal rights continues to be recognized intellectually, and if it grows in acceptance as a classroom subject, a good theory will help to solidify a cultural change toward greater concern for animals—a change that is already under way. I hope that this book will help this cause along.

(Julian H. Franklin, Animal Rights and Moral Philosophy [New York: Columbia University Press, 2005], xvii-xviii)

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