Sunday, March 6, 2011

New Series Explores Animal Ethics

A new series of books about animal ethics is being released by publisher Palgrave Macmillan.

The editors of this series—which will total 15 books—write that "[f]rom being a marginal issue, animals have become an emerging issue in ethics and in multidisciplinary enquiry." Indeed, the series looks at animals in relationship to such areas as social work, popular media and public health.

The first book in the series that I read was "An Introduction to Animals and Political Theory" by Alasdair Cochrane, which analyzes what different theories say about how societies should treat animals, beginning with philosophers like Pythagoras and Plato and ending with feminist theorists of today.

I admit I'm not fond of abstract thought or arguments, but I was promised an "accessible overview," so I looked forward to reading this book. And this book is exactly as its title suggests. It is an introduction to animals and political theory that would be great for a 101 college course--or for anyone new to, but interested in, these areas.

A bit of the chapter on liberalism (surprisingly enough) got a bit dry. But overall I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in how different schools of political thought view animals.

I learned a lot not only about political theory as it relates to animals but also about philosophy and political theory, in general. The book goes into detail about the following theories: utilitarianism, liberalism, communitarianism (that's "communitarianism," not "communism"), Marxism and feminism.

Although the focus of the book is on animals, reading about each political theory made me think about how people view and treat the environment. And I wonder if some people are scared of granting rights to animals because they're afraid that plants and mountains, etc., may be next, and soon it'd be illegal to exploit any of Earth's priceless resources.

In the next few weeks I'll review another book in this series, "An Introduction to Animals and the Law."

Note: I received this book from its publisher so that I could review it.