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Without a Tear

Without a Tear: Our Tragic Relationship with Animals

Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 224
  • Book Info
    Without a Tear
    Book Description:

    In Without a Tear Mark H. Bernstein begins with one of our most common and cherished moral beliefs: that it is wrong to intentionally and gratuitously inflict harm on the innocent. Over the course of the book, he shows how this apparently innocuous commitment requires that we drastically revise many of our most common practices involving nonhuman animals._x000B__x000B_Most people who write about our ethical obligations concerning animals base their arguments on emotional appeals or contentious philosophical assumptions; Bernstein, however, argues from reasons but carries little theoretical baggage. He considers the issues in a religious context, where he finds that Judaism in particular has the resources to ground moral obligations to animals. Without a Tear also makes novel use of feminist ethics to add to the case for drawing animals more closely into our ethical world. _x000B__x000B_Bernstein details the realities of factory farms, animal-based research, and hunting fields, and contrasting these chilling facts with our moral imperatives clearly shows the need for fundamental changes to some of our most basic animal institutions. The tightly argued, provocative claims in Without a Tear will be an eye-opening experience for animal lovers, scholars, and people of good faith everywhere.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09051-6
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. 1-6)

    A phenomenon’s very pervasiveness can obscure our vision of it. Facing everyday events, we take no notice of them. Their ubiquity absorbs any impetus to explain them, or stand in awe of them, or perhaps to be outraged by them.

    Part of Isaac Newton’s genius resided in his ability to question the obvious—to recognize that we could and should try to explain why unimpeded objects fall downward. No event could seem more natural or normal. We can safely presume that no one had ever released an object and seen it float upward, skip sideways, or zigzag through space. Always,...

  5. CHAPTER ONE The Principle of Gratuitous Suffering
    (pp. 7-39)

    My primary aim in this chapter is to introduce, articulate, and defend a fundamental moral principle that I dub the “Principle of Gratuitous Suffering” (PGS). On first hearing, the principle’s truth appears virtually self-evident. Perhaps less immediately obvious is that acceptance of this principle has far-reaching effects on the extent of our moral obligations to nonhuman animals. If in the institutions of factory farming, hunting, vivisection, and other animal-related practices we intentionally inflict (or allow) gratuitous pain and suffering, the PGS tells us that we are acting immorally. From a moral point of view, we will be required to dramatically...

  6. CHAPTER TWO The Value of Humans and the Value of Animals
    (pp. 40-91)

    The argument up to this point suggests that, by virtue of their sentience, many nonhuman animals ought to be included in the moral community. They have welfares and so can be made better and worse off. They are also innocent and, as I will later document, are subject to enormous intentional infliction of gratuitous pain and suffering. Thus, it is morally incumbent on us to initiate widespread revisions in the ways we live our lives.

    To put it mildly, attempts to broaden the moral arena to include nonhuman animals have not been enthusiastically received. One common line of resistance rests...

  7. CHAPTER THREE The Holocaust of Factory Farming
    (pp. 92-115)

    This is not a chapter for the squeamish or weak of heart. Understanding what happens to animals before we bite into a steak, taste some pork, or munch some chicken is not pleasant. Still, it must be done, for it will show just how much gratuitous pain and suffering we inflict on innocent creatures. Applying the PGS to these data will demonstrate that we are morally obligated to end all our factory (intensive) farming. Since factory farms produce some 95 percent of the flesh we consume, fulfilling our ethical obligations will call for drastically changing how we live our lives....

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Hunting
    (pp. 116-128)

    Recent feminist philosophers have rightfully made us more aware of the language that we use to describe women. The inordinate number of debasing terms for women clearly shows that our attitudes still need major repair. A similar point applies to hunting terminology. It is telling that hunters tend to characterize their practice as a “sport” and refer to themselves as “sportsmen” and “sportswomen.” This is both misleading and repugnant. Sporting events involve voluntary participants. All the parties have some chance of winning, with the winner typically rewarded with money, a trophy, or a medal. But hunting has none of these...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Animal Experimentation
    (pp. 129-149)

    It might be thought that live animal experimentation, or vivisection, would prove to be the institution most immune to the charge of intentionally inflicting gratuitous suffering on innocent creatures. Animals undoubtedly suffer and die in experiments, and the infliction of pain, suffering, and death is clearly intentional, but apologists for animal experimentation balk at the idea that these unfortunate outcomes are gratuitous. Although many vivisectionists applaud the trend toward vegetarian diets, agreeing that this will likely help people live healthier and longer lives, and view hunting as at best a dispensable recreational activity, they portray the abolition of animal experimentation...

  10. CHAPTER SIX The Law and Animals
    (pp. 150-160)

    A significant segment of the population believes that our legal system protects animals from egregious violations of the PGS. Most people believe that our laws govern the ways in which we may skin, experiment on, raise, transport, and slaughter animals. The significance we give to our companion animals is presumed to inform the laws that deal with animals generally. Undoubtedly these laws, like any others, are occasionally violated, but surely (it is thought) animals are by and large treated humanely throughout their lives.

    These pervasive perceptions are grossly mistaken. Our present legal system offers virtually no protection of animal welfare....

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN Women and Animals
    (pp. 161-188)

    It is an inarguable historical truth that both women and animals have been systematically and institutionally oppressed. It may not be too speculative to explain the disproportionate number of women involved in animal rights and animal protection organizations—some estimates have women constituting 70 percent of this population—by supposing that their history of exploitation provides many women a feeling of kinship with animals. Indeed, some feminist thinkers cite just this supposition in claiming that women can address animal oppression with a novel and distinctive voice. A second reason for thinking that women may bring a unique perspective to the...

    (pp. 189-190)

    This essay began with an examination of a principle that accords well with our prereflective moral beliefs. It surely strikes us as wrong to intentionally inflict gratuitous pain and suffering on innocent creatures. Since common sense tends to signal the beginning and not the end of investigation, the principle was articulated and defended. Adherence to this precept conjoined with knowledge of the abusive treatment animals receive from many of our institutions morally requires huge changes in our present lifestyles.

    Once again, this is not to imply that the prematurepainlessdeath of a non-human animal is not also wrong. Indeed,...

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 191-202)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 203-207)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 208-209)