HomeGroupsTalkMoreZeitgeist
Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Loading...

Animal Liberation (1975)

by Peter Singer

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,7302110,001 (4.15)22
First published in 1975, Animal Liberation created a sensation upon its release, shaking the world's philosophical and animal-protection circles to their cores. Now, forty years later, Peter Singer's landmark work still looms large as a foundational and canonical text of animal advocacy. Arguing that all beings capable of suffering deserve equal consideration, Singer contends that the only justifiable treatment of animals is that which maximizes good and minimizes suffering. In examining the cruelty of factory farming and the exploitation, both commercial and scientific, of laboratory animals, he identifies a kind of "ethical blindness" and calls for political action. A moral wake-up call from one of the most influential and controversial ethicists of our time, Animal Liberation tackles an emotionally charged social issue with a compelling rational argument in a rousing and riveting read.… (more)
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 22 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
Singer, Peter. Animal Liberation. 1975. 40th Anniversary edition. Open Road Media, 2015.
There is an irony in the fact that Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation popularize the animal rights movement, even though Singer specifically rejects rights-based arguments for the treatment of animals. Instead, he invokes a Utilitarian principle of equality based on the ability of the animal to feel pain. It is an argument that would be right at home in the work of Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832). It is significant that Singer never mentions Bentham’s godson, John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), a disciple of Bentham who argued that human beings matter more than animals in that humans are capable of pleasures other animals cannot experience. These arguments lead Singer to advocate ethical vegetarianism, an end to animal testing for products like cosmetics, and other practices that mistreat animals. He did not go so far as advocating an end to all use of animals in medical testing, because as Star Trek’s Spock once said, the needs of the many may outweigh the needs of the one. He also rejects the violence sometimes advocated by animal rights groups. The book is a must-read for anyone interested in the ethical treatment of animals. 5 stars. ( )
  Tom-e | Apr 20, 2022 |
Classic of the animal rights movement. I have had this book on my shelf for many years but always hesitated to read it- it’s written by a philosopher who specializes in ethics and I thought it would be difficult material. Not so. I was surprised to find it very readable and easy to understand. I also assumed it would be full of absurdly extremist ideas or overly sentimental appeals. Quite the contrary. Although at the end Singer makes a few conclusions and suggestions for future action that sound extreme and impossible (doing away with all carnivorous animals in the world to eliminate animal suffering!! what??) he doesn’t explore those any further and admits they are likely untenable. He does think zoos and farms that raise animals for consumption should disappear though.

Getting ahead of myself. The main premise of the book is: animals feel just like we do and can suffer pain and emotional distress (wow, see my previous read for a lot more detail on that point). Singer makes many clear and logical arguments that humans should not cause suffering, or think we are “better than” animals, or control their lives so completely as we often do. They should just be allowed to live and do their own thing. I have to agree with some of that. He doesn’t just point out that we shouldn’t cause animals pain or treat them like objects to create meals for us at the lowest possible monetary cost, but also argues that meat from animals that were terrified or in pain when they died is of lesser quality, that raising animals for food is more costly to the environment, and that plants give us more energy return. There’s a lot more of course, I’m just mentioning some bits that stood out to me. I found of most interest (unexpectedly) the chapter that explores historically the beliefs that cemented in western thought this idea that we as humans have a right to rule over the rest of sentient life. Starting with the bible and going through Greek and Roman thinkers. I have to say it sounds like Descartes is hugely to blame for the idea many people still firmly: that animals are instinctive automatons without any feeling.

There are parts of this book that discuss the horrors of factory farming, animal experimentation and product testing. I would hope that many of the things described are now of the past. I know that at least nowadays you can easily find beauty products that were not tested on animals and buy eggs laid by chickens that roamed free outside (whatever that actually means) for example. There are photos in this book which disturbingly make the point of how much animals suffered in labs and factory farms, thankfully they are few (the book could have easily stuffed a ton more in there to make its point).

Personally, I am not a strict vegetarian though this book makes very good points on why one should be. I have for many years now made an effort to eat less meat and to choose it as wisely as I can- milk from “grass-fed” cows, meat from pasture-raised beef or bison, fish that was “sustainably harvested”. My conundrum is twofold: how do I know those labels are factual? If I don’t go visit the farm where those cows grazed to see for myself, does “pasture-raised” really mean what I think it does?

My other issue: what about all the other life that dies to make a field profitable for growing plants we eat? I have read reports that vast fields of crops which use large machinery to harvest kill billions of small wild animals- rabbits, mice, birds, snakes, etc etc.- but then there’s arguments that those numbers are not what they seem- I just read six different articles on it, so now I don’t know what to think. Eating strictly plants does not mean we are causing less harm to living things, or to the environment. I would like to think I am making the best choices, standing there in the grocery store staring at packages, but sometimes I feel like I have to go home and do more research- and it just gives me a headache. I try to eat local, in-season, raised-as-humanely-as-possible foods, but sometimes it’s hard to know what to choose. I don’t think eschewing all animal products is the answer. I do think we should avoid supporting companies that perform needlessly cruel experiments on animals or raise them for food in appallingly stressful, crowded and unhygienic conditions. It’s hard to know which reports are truthful, though.

Definitely this is a book I think everyone should read.

more at the Dogear Diary ( )
  jeane | Jan 1, 2022 |
Animal Liberation is the book that started the modern animal rights movement. Peter Singer, the author, is an Australian philosopher. He is the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, and laureate professor at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics (CAPPE), University of Melbourne. He specializes in applied ethics, approaching ethical issues from a secular preference utilitarian perspective.

In 1975, the first edition of Animal Liberation was published. It has become the centerpiece of the movement. The book was revised in 1990 and again this year for the 40th anniversary. The philosophy does not change, but the material is updated for the current time. For example, Revlon is no longer testing beauty products on animals and factory farming grown at an incredible pace.

Singer uses reason and sound arguments to make his points. He does not make emotional appeals. His writing on speciesism reminded me of a news story here in Texas a few years ago. There was a news story with a crying teenage girl. She had sold here horse only to find out that it was bought by a slaughterhouse. She thought it wasn't right, even though she sold the horse as one would sell a piece of property. She thought the horse she sold was going to a good home and felt betrayed. The story made me wonder if she felt the same way when she ate a hamburger. What is the difference between mammals? Why is there no problem in the slaughtering millions of cattle or pigs, but there is a problem slaughtering horses or dogs. Also, why are dogs and cats protected from abuse but cattle, sheep, swine, and birds are not?

Singer, however, does not devote the largest part of his book to what we eat, but how we treat animals and the reasons why. He also points out the hypocrisy in the way we think about animals like I pointed out above. People oppose wearing fur, but at the same time see no problem with leather. We say we love animals --kittens and puppies -- while eating a ham sandwich.

Singer also looks at Western civilization and the reasons we think about animals the way we do. From the Book of Genesis, though Greek thinkers, Roman society, and philosophers in the Age of Reason, the present Western mindset of animal rights or more appropriately the lack of rights is set. We have made progress from Roman times, but it is slow and suffers many setbacks.

Some of this is how we are raised. Today we are so separated from our food many do not associate it with its source. I remember real butcher shops where men still cut your meat from sides of beef right in front of you. Today meat comes in white styrofoam packaging with pads underneath to absorb any excess blood. Blood might remind a customer of the process. We tend to forget or ignore how the meat gets into the neat packaging. We think of "happy cows" on a farm, not feed lots. We think of farmers hand milking cows and animals living long happy lives grazing in fields rather than cows that "used up" after two years. Image and reality are vastly different.


Animal Liberation still holds true to its principles after forty years. The updates have kept up with current developments and Singer still does use reason over emotion to back his points. It is an informative read, but not one that gives comfort or pleasure. It is information that does need to get out, read, and discussed. No matter which side of animal rights the reader stands, this book reminds the reader of what is really taking place and let's his or her conscious make the decision.
( )
  evil_cyclist | Mar 16, 2020 |
A great and challenging book read. ( )
  bit-of-a-list-tiger | Jun 30, 2019 |
A pioneering work which places animal treatment by people withing the ambit of human ethical behaviour. Whoever else deals with this subject, Peter Singer will always be the first philosopher to have confronted, analysed and resolved many of the key arguments. In the past, I can only think of St Francis of Assisi as a someone of significance who considered how non-human animals should be treated. Singer takes it to the next level which demands we change how we conduct ourselves. ( )
  georgee53 | May 21, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

Belongs to Publisher Series

You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Epigraph
Dedication
First words
This book is about the tyranny of human over non-human animals.
Quotations
The English language, like other languages, reflects the prejudices of its users. So authors who wish to challenge these prejudices are in a well known type of bind: either they use language that reinforces the very prejudices they wish to challenge, or else they fail to communicate with their audience.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (3)

First published in 1975, Animal Liberation created a sensation upon its release, shaking the world's philosophical and animal-protection circles to their cores. Now, forty years later, Peter Singer's landmark work still looms large as a foundational and canonical text of animal advocacy. Arguing that all beings capable of suffering deserve equal consideration, Singer contends that the only justifiable treatment of animals is that which maximizes good and minimizes suffering. In examining the cruelty of factory farming and the exploitation, both commercial and scientific, of laboratory animals, he identifies a kind of "ethical blindness" and calls for political action. A moral wake-up call from one of the most influential and controversial ethicists of our time, Animal Liberation tackles an emotionally charged social issue with a compelling rational argument in a rousing and riveting read.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Current Discussions

None

Popular covers

Quick Links

Rating

Average: (4.15)
0.5
1 4
1.5
2 5
2.5 3
3 30
3.5 7
4 64
4.5 6
5 89

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 204,760,214 books! | Top bar: Always visible