The Environmental Magazine: Opening all the cages

Opening all the cages

Jim Motavalli

Animal rights has long been a hot-button topic in American culture, attracting attention not only from activists and angry opponents, but also from scholars intrigued by its philosophical underpinnings. Tom Regan, a retired professor at North Carolina State, is a leader in shaping that evolving philosophy. In his book Empty Cages: Facing the Challenge of Animal Rights (newly published in paperback by Rowman & Littlefield, $16.95), Regan takes us on a tour through the thought process that led to his becoming a vegan and a committed activist for animals. Citing many graphic examples of abuse, he makes clear connections between human rights and those of animals. “Whether any animals have rights depends on the true answer to one question: ‘Are any animals subjects-of-a-life?’ This is the question that needs to be asked about animals because this is the question we need to ask about us” he says. Regan focuses on the different ways humans have turned animals into resources and uses the “subjects-of-a-life” question to bolster his philosophy throughout. The book is persuasive, though the under-representation of counter-arguments weakens its potential impact somewhat.

COPYRIGHT 2005 Earth Action Network, Inc.

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