Orion Magazine reviews Loving Animals
Are we bound by duties of justice to respect the rights of animals? Are we bound to count animal suffering in utilitarian calculations of benefit and loss? To judge from the systematic violence we do to animals, the answer, apparently, is none of the above.
Even as philosophers struggle to find room for animals in the corners of moral codes written by and for human beings, the wholesale destruction of habitats accelerates, causing the extinction of countless animals—species after glorious species. Corporate meat producers churn out hamburgers and chicken thighs in systems both fetid and cruel. Animal shelters kill discarded pets in makeshift gas chambers. And philosophers are not even able to agree on why we should be ashamed.
Into this fray comes Duke University professor Kathy Rudy’s new book, Loving Animals: Toward a New Animal Advocacy. Abstract rational principles seldom move us to moral action, she argues. What move us to action are our feelings, the “moral sentiments” of empathy, regret, grief, and love—significantly including, Rudy argues, love for pets.