Wednesday, February 15, 2012, 2:09 PM
Why Animal Suffering Matters: Philosophy, Theology, and Practical Ethics
Professor Linzey has written many acclaimed books but
this is surely his most important to date. It is an exhilarating read and
its lucid and persuasive style and cogent marshalling and presentation of
his powerful central arguments make it a classic philosophical and religious
vindication of animal rights. (Feargus O'Connor, faith and Freedom 63:1 )
The book is excellently done... with exhaustive scholarship, meticulous
argumentation, and clear organization, making it very suitable as a
textbook... one can only welcome Linzey's latest book, which admirably
reinforces why we ought to care enough about animal suffering at human hands
to strive to end it. (Joel Marks, Philosophy Now )
folk who doubt that anything of practical importance could issue form a
theology department will be confused by this book. Linzey, a theologian and
director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, here adopts a strategy of
rational ju jitsu... A rights-based approach to animal welfare, he succeeds
in showing, is not the only game in town. (Steven Poole, The Guardian )
Why Animal Suffering Matters sets out to show us that anthropogenic
suffering is both real and morally relevant... [Linzey] combines arguments
familiar in animal ethics with his own viewpoints - a mixture that provides
an alluring introduction to the topic... The book is greatly enhanced by
Linzey's lucid style of writing. Such lucidity is much needed in the
contemporary society that tends to approach animals via what has been called
"moral schizophrenia", within which essentially similar animals are treated
in radically different ways based on their use-category (thus, pet dogs are
members of the family, while cognitively similar pigs are food). Consistency
and clarity rarely enter the picture... Linzey offers us a convincing
alternative... Linzey's book provides a fine introduction to why animal
suffering matters. It could, and arguably should, be utilised by
universities, schools and laypeople alike. (Elisa Aaltola, Times Higher
informed and balanced... Why Animal Suffering Matters
offers a broad, engaging argument on an important, complex issue. Linzey
writes his theory with knowledge and clarity, making this book accessible
for newcomers as well as those who are already familiar with Linzey's work.
(Georgina Lea, The Vegan )
How we treat
animals arouses strong emotions. Many people are repulsed by photographs of
cruelty to animals and respond passionately to how we make animals suffer
for food, commerce, and sport. But is this, as some argue, a purely
emotional issue? Are there really no rational grounds for opposing our
current treatment of animals? In Why Animal Suffering Matters, Andrew Linzey
argues that when analyzed impartially the rational case for extending moral
solicitude to all sentient beings is much stronger than many suppose.
Indeed, Linzey shows that many of the justifications for inflicting animal
suffering in fact provide grounds for protecting them. Because animals, the
argument goes, lack reason or souls or language, harming them is not an
offense. Linzey suggests that just the opposite is true, that the inability
of animals to give or withhold consent, their inability to represent their
interests, their moral innocence, and their relative defenselessness all
compel us not to harm them. Andrew Linzey further shows that the arguments
in favor of three controversial practices--hunting with dogs, fur farming,
and commercial sealing--cannot withstand rational critique. He considers the
economic, legal, and political issues surrounding each of these practices,
appealing not to our emotions but to our reason, and shows that they are
rationally unsupportable and morally repugnant. In this superbly argued and
deeply engaging book, Linzey pioneers a new theory about why animal
suffering matters, maintaining that sentient animals, like infants and young
children, should be accorded a special moral status.
5.0 out of 5 stars RAISING THE BAR, 27 Nov 2009
By Nadia "Nadia" -
Published on Amazon.com
This review is from: Why Animal Suffering
Matters: Philosophy, Theology, and Practical Ethics (Hardcover)
Reverend Andrew Linzey: A Brilliant ethicist gets to the root of social
mechanisms that perpetuate animal suffering & why it is important to
recognize animals as sentient individuals & why animal suffering matters.
This book should be among the number one choice books of all books on behalf
of animals. This book is also an in-depth study of how our past & current
western views on animals have influenced & influence the way things are as
well as an in-depth & comprehensive study of our how society excludes
animals and why this should not be the case. This book is not a theological
account but rather very much a comprehensive study & a very deep
non-religious ethical study that does include theological theories. Says
Philosopher Joel Marks in his review of this book, "Linzey is very much the
analytic philosopher in the way he employs logic to assist his opponents in
being hoisted by their own petards. This is where philosophers typically
come into their own, since the premises of an argument often rely on
empirical knowledge, which is not our accustomed turf. Linzey must be
especially commended, therefore, for the extensive groundwork he has done in
researching the factual territory of his case studies."
I am a HUGE
fan of Reverend Andrew Linzey who is both an accomplished ethicist and
theologian. In this book Reverend Andrew Linzey DEEP DIVES into EVEN MORE
powerful intellectual, ethical and theological arguments on behalf of
valuing animal suffering and WHY IT DOES INDEED MATTER VERY MUCH (See Animal
Gospel by Andrew Linzey). It is not enough to recognize that animals suffer,
but it is crucial to learn WHY their suffering has value. WITH VERY SOLID
ARGUMENTS on behalf of animals and why they should be viewed as special or
exceptional cases, Linzey sets very solid grounds for why animal suffering
matters. Reverend Andrew Linzey examines animal exploitation and suffering,
views past and present philosophers, clergy, ethicists, etc., gets to the
very roots of the problem, and states a very very powerful and complete case
on behalf of animals who suffer at the hands of human beings. I want to
stress the importance of education in the fight against the oppression of
animals. Without proper knowledge and the willingness to learn about the
mechanisms behind control and oppression of animals, the battle for animal
liberation will not be won. There are just too many hidden determinants not
always understood by the average activist. That is why I stress reading
these highly educational books. Only through education does one learn what
is behind oppressive attitudes, actions and speech, and only through
education does one learn how to respond and help change the world.
Andrew Linzey transcends all narrow Christian views, and this book is indeed
suitable and recommended for people of all faiths and especially the non
religious who are indeed serious about learning about animal suffering in
today's society. There are indeed a few strictly Christian views, and the
identification with the crucifixion of Jesus as the crucifixion of love and
compassion, the blameless, the innocent and the pure is indeed a central
part of this thesis, but as a whole, this book transcends Christianity, and
I highly recommend Andrew Linzey's books as MUST BUYS! As a person who has
lived in Italy, I want to stress, as does Reverend Linzey, that the Church's
role in animal oppression should not be underestimated or disregarded. In
fact, the Church's silence indeed sends a very forceful message of control
In this book, Reverend Andrew Linzey goes into deep
hell researching almost all aspects of negative human attitudes and theories
toward animals that justify cruelty toward animals and then shines a
brilliant light on these failings that leave abusers absolutely no place to
Here below I will include some excerpts or samples of Andrew
Linzey's writings taken from this book. I believe the best way to sell sweet
grapes is to offer samples, so here goes:
"The practical upshot is
that we cannot continue to privilege human suffering as if it stands alone
as a unique source of moral concern. Some animal friendly philosophers
advance solicitude for animals on the basis that they are, inter alia, like
us. But my thesis is that their very alterity in many respects should
underpin their moral claim."
I am including very few selected
passages of John Henry Newman, vicar of St. Mary's University Church in 1842
that are a part of this book.
"but there is something so very
dreadful, so satanic in tormenting those who have never harmed us, and who
cannot defend themselves, who are utterly in our power, who have weapons
neither of offence nor defence, that none but very hardened persons can
endure the thought of it."
Andrew Linzey continues: ". . . why should
the suffering of vulnerable, innocent, unprotected, defenceless beings be
judged to be theologically significant?--the answer must be that there is
something Christ-like about such suffering."
"Few institutions are
morally neutral as regards animals because they reflect and reinforce past
attitudes. They act as agents of thought control. What is required is the
cultivation of a critical perspective to help counteract the dominant
ideology about animals perpetuated by the media in particular."
Discovering the facts. By learning how facts are distorted or
misrepresented, we are enabled to see the underlying perspective that the
distortions serve. Fact cannot deliver values, but are important in order to
begin ethical analysis."
"(ii) Retaining the focus on the ethical.
Defenders of exploitation are adept at sidestepping the ethical issue . . .
This is also helped by popular utilitarianism among media spokespeople,
based on the assumption that only human suffering really matters."
"The institutions that govern our lives are the result of past vision, or
lack of it. But they can and should change."
Animals have been
controlled and oppressed by manipulative definitions that distort our
"The power of mis-description"
"The first is what
Denys Turner has called 'that most powerful of human tools, the power of mis-description.'
In a paper provocatively titled 'How to Kill People,' he argues:"
. . . if we propose to kill a fellow human being and justify it, we have to
re-describe him in such a way that he no longer belongs to us, becomes an
alien being . . . . and in that way the inhibition against killing is
Reverend Andrew Linzey makes reference to the
media's connection in animal suffering. Indeed, I wrote the TV stations
letting them know they should not treat hunting as if it were a matter of
course. Bow and arrow hunting and any form of recreational hunting is a
ghastly form of cruelty. It is a culture of cruelty and violence disguised
under a heap of euphemisms and misrepresentations.
There is reference
to the fact that it has been argued animals lack language as possessed by
human beings. To this argument it is justly argued by Linzey that human
language is not an unambiguous good: it can be used to spread falsity and
deceit and is not an unmixed moral good. "The apparent inability of animals
to deceive themselves might, on a less prejudiced understanding of the
world, place them in a higher moral category." I believe it is an Eastern
view that silence is the most perfect speech. In fact, love is given in
silence--it does not require speech. (See Power vs. Force--a book.) Linzey
in his Conclusion states: " . . . I haven't outlined the full case for
animals, which now increasingly accepts scientific evidence that they are,
for example, rational to some degree and display greater capacities for
cognition and self-awareness than previously supposed." He later continues:
"I fully accept that the case for animals may, and probably will, be
buttressed by the further questioning of at least some of the differences
that are now widely accepted." Then he later continues: "The case, even and
especially dependent only on traditional formulations, is strong enough to
deserve a hearing now, and should result in major changes to the way we
In Chapter 2 titled: How We Minimize Animal Suffering
and How We Can Change, Linzey's aim is to: "identify and illustrate what
might be described as . . . "intellectual mechanisms that prevent us form
recognizing sentience in animals or that help to limit its significance."
"Second, I aim to consider ways in which animal abuse is socially
perpetuated through the phenomenon called 'instutionalisation.'"
Under the subtitles of 1. The power of mis-description, 2. The power of
misrepresentation, 3. The power of misdirection, 4. The power of
misperception, Linzey goes to great lengths in analyzing social mechanisms
that minimize and perpetuate animal suffering.
point from this book:
"But is it true that rational comprehension
always or generally heightens suffering? The general claim is less well
founded." Linzey later continues, "They experience the raw terror of not
knowing." " . . . the frustration of their natural freedoms may well induce
more suffering than we allow. Human suffering, on the other hand, can be
softened by an intellectual comprehension of the circumstances." Linzey, of
course, continues with more very insightful ethical examples and arguments.
In the Conclusion, Linzey points out defects in Singer's ethical
arguments (PETA's Singer): "1. flies in the face of the historic trajectory
of concern for animals and children as constituting a common cause; 2. fuels
the popular, but misguided, view that concern for animals is misanthropy or
leads to the displacement of human rights; and 3. places in juxtaposition
one of the strongest theoretical commonalities of ethical concern." (I know
some hunters like to use the misanthropy "card" so they can continue having
"rights" to laugh and enjoy shooting arrows into the faces of deer). This is
what I dearly love about Linzey: he transcends Christianity and even
transcends today's leading animal-friendly ethicists.
is an accomplished ethicist in his own right, and he is also an accomplished
theologian. Linzey is a genius--he's absolutely brilliant, and you will NOT
find a better leader or author in the animal liberation movement. He has
dedicated more than 40 years to the animal liberation movement, has
incredible insight, knowledge, does incredible research, and I HIGHLY
recommend two of his other books, "Animal Gospel" another unbelievably
excellent book, and "Animal Theology."
I suggest to fully appreciate
this very brilliant man, brilliant ethicist, British Priest, Professor, and
theologian who has great knowledge, a great mind, who does incredible
research, represents Christianity as it should be, gets to the very roots of
animal abuse and puts it all in writing. All you have to do is read this
book. How easy does it get?! As I have mentioned in my previous reviews on
Andrew Linzey's books, we did not have such studies and powerful allies to
the animal rights movement back in the 60's. There were people and
organizations that were unfolding, but I felt totally alone at 15 when a
doctor defended vivisection by stating animals do not suffer--only humans
suffer. Today, this statement is viewed as rubbish, but I felt helpless and
angry at the time. Young people should take full advantage of the education
available and spiritually powerful and educated people and
writers--especially Andrew Linzey--to learn from and spread this knowledge.
All the darkness in the universe cannot snuff out the light of a single
candle. In fact Linzey says, "Ever more sophisticated arguments, with
greater and greater nuance, can be devised in defence of the indefensible,
so even breathtakingly obvious acts of barbarity can acquire an appearance
of intellectual respectability." Activists need these kinds of books and
allies as intellectual ammunition to cast light upon the darkness.
had anticipated using the title of this review, "Raising the Bar" and
"Beyond the Expected" for "Levitate," Bruce Hornsby's new album, but I will
instead use this title to honor this far more deserving book. (See my take
on hunting & Bruce's lyrics in my "Levitate" review and in my profile.
Linzey's ethics on Hunting in my "Levitate" review are included in this
Note: Vivisection in Italy is done on fully-awake dogs--their
vocal cords are cut in order that they do not disturb the medical students
at the medical schools. This is still going on today as it was going on 40
years ago--under the eyes of the Catholic Church.
Rowlands, Professor of Philosophy, University of Miami, "This book, I
believe ranks as one of his finest works--perhaps even the finest."