Ethics and the Beast

Ethics and the Beast: A Speciesist Argument for Animal Liberation

Tzachi Zamir
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 158
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  • Book Info
    Ethics and the Beast
    Book Description:

    Many people think that animal liberation would require a fundamental transformation of basic beliefs. We would have to give up "speciesism" and start viewing animals as our equals, with rights and moral status. And we would have to apply these beliefs in an all-or-nothing way. But inEthics and the Beast, Tzachi Zamir makes the radical argument that animal liberation doesn't require such radical arguments--and that liberation could be accomplished in a flexible and pragmatic way. By making a case for liberation that is based primarily on common moral intuitions and beliefs, and that therefore could attract wide understanding and support, Zamir attempts to change the terms of the liberation debate.

    Without defending it,Ethics and the Beastclaims that speciesism is fully compatible with liberation. Even if we believe that we should favor humans when there is a pressing human need at stake, Zamir argues, that does not mean that we should allow marginal human interests to trump the life-or-death interests of animals. As minimalist as it sounds, this position generates a robust liberation program, including commitments not to eat animals, subject them to factory farming, or use them in medical research. Zamir also applies his arguments to some questions that tend to be overlooked in the liberation debate, such as whether using animals can be distinguished from exploiting them, whether liberationists should be moral vegetarians or vegans, and whether using animals for therapeutic purposes is morally blameless.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-2813-5
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)

    “Speciesist-liberationism” seems a contradiction in terms. Yet this book offers an elaboration of precisely this position, presenting it as the one that liberationists and nonliberationists should endorse. Calling this a “defense” of speciesist liberationism would somewhat misrepresent the book’s argument, since I avoid showing why speciesism is itself justified. My concern is, rather, to show how a detailed case for reforming our attitude toward nonhuman animals need not involve abandoning widely shared speciesist intuitions.¹ Deradicalization of the theoretical underpinnings of liberationism is important not merely because it is philosophically correct, or because it trims the debate over animal ethics of...

  5. Part I: Ethics and Beasts
      (pp. 3-15)

      Ever since ryder and singer introduced the term, “speciesism” has been seen as the arch opponent of those who strive to reform our relations with animals. While much is achieved by compelling people to critically evaluate their species-related biases, my contention in this book is that allowing the speciesist/nonspeciesist opposition to govern the call to rethink the moral status of animals is significantly misleading, unnecessary, and detrimental to this important cause. Throughout this chapter I will attempt to distill a sense of “speciesism” that actually opposes the pro-animal claim. It will be shown that endorsing the more intuitive meanings of...

    • Chapter 2 WHY ANIMALS MATTER
      (pp. 16-32)

      Virtually all work in animal ethics attempts to establish or reform the “moral status” of nonhuman animals. I will argue that for all its importance, such work introduces confusion into animal ethics that in turn carries significant ramifications. I will first give a rough outline of status-establishing theories within animal ethics. I shall then argue that we can safely eliminate the notion of status, preserving what is of value in previous work. I will also outline the general assumptions that are sufficient for determining the moral standing of animal-related practices. Fortunately, these assumptions are widely shared.

      Animal ethicists typically argue...

  6. Part II: Killing
      (pp. 35-56)

      It is usually assumed that moral vegetarians are obliged to prove a number of difficult claims. These include the claim that animals are not automata; that animals suffer or experience pain; that killing animals harms them; that killing or causing them pain matters to animals in a way that should make an ethical difference to us; that animals have some kind of moral status; that we have positive or negative obligations to nonhuman animals; or, more ambitiously, that animals possess rights that, in turn, call for these negative/positive obligations.

      This way of framing the debate and its major stepping-stones has...

      (pp. 57-88)

      Wide agreement exists that experimenting on animals¹ in ways that harm or kill them is permissible but is to be limited: few hold that minute advancements in knowledge justify any degree of animal suffering and death.² The concern for limitation registers a deeper tension that underlies the moral status of research: if animals suffer, if killing animals is on a different moral footing from modifying objects, what justifies killing them and causing them pain in order to advance knowledge, test and devise medical and nonmedical products, or determine their toxicity levels? What allows us to kill them in classroom demonstrations?...

  7. Part III: Using
    • Chapter 5 USE OR EXPLOITATION?
      (pp. 91-94)

      This section of the book examines practices that do not involve killing nonhuman animals. The status of animals that live their lives in zoos or farms, or function as companion animals (pets) or therapy animals, is debated among liberationists. Some perceive each of these practices as further manifestations of speciesist culture that ought to be eradicated in a just world. Other liberationists accept some but not all of these practices. Aside from liberationists, determining the moral status of these practices is important, not merely because it specifies and rationalizes the envisaged reform being proposed, but also because it affects numerous...

    • Chapter 6 CULINARY USE
      (pp. 95-112)

      Vegans charge moral vegetarians with inconsistency: if eating animals is a participation in a wrong practice, consuming egg and dairy products is likewise wrong because it constitutes cooperation with systematic exploitation.¹ Vegans say that even the more humane parts of the contemporary dairy and egg industry rely on immoral practices, and that therefore moral vegetarianism is too small a step in the right direction. According to vegans, moral vegetarians have conceded that animals are not means; that human pleasure cannot override animal suffering and death; that some industries ought to be banned; and that all this carries practical implications regarding...

    • Chapter 7 THERAPEUTIC USE
      (pp. 113-124)

      Nonhuman animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is becoming increasingly popular.¹ Expositors claim that its roots go back to the eighteenth century when Tuke, one of the originators of modern psychiatry, introduced dogs in his work with his patients. Nowadays, AAT encompasses interventions incorporating dogs, cats, rodents, birds, reptiles, horses, monkeys, and even dolphins. The goals of such therapy are extremely varied, including psychological therapeutic objectives, as well as other forms of assistance.²

      In this chapter, I will ignore the prudential questions that haunt most AAT literature I have come across, that is, whether the benefits of AAT can be conclusively shown over...

    • Chapter 8 RECREATIONAL USE
      (pp. 125-134)

      The distinction between use and exploitation underlies this section of the book and is a cardinal one for any comprehensive moral outlook on our relations with nonhuman animals. It is possible to map onto the use/exploitation opposition the three diverging perspectives in debates over animals that are under human supervision: (1) animals are never exploited—merely used; (2) animals are never used—always exploited; (3) some animals are used by humans while others are exploited by them. The first position holds that by virtue of what they are, nonhuman animals can never be exploited (or, what boils down to the...

    (pp. 135-136)

    The turkey I had slaughtered was not the last animal I ate. But, aside from rare successes at fishing, it was the only animal that I had personally killed and eaten. I was about twenty at the time, in my military service, and was overseeing a group of soldiers for an off-camp activity. One soldier came up with the idea of purchasing a turkey from a nearby breeder and slaughtering it later. I approved. After selecting a bird from a farm and driving with it back to base, we circled it and proceeded to try to kill it. We used...

  9. INDEX
    (pp. 137-146)