BOOKS: Animal Ethics
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2006:
by Robert Garner
Polity Press (230 Main St., Malden, MA 02148), 2005. 189 pp.,
University of Leicester political scientist Robert Garner
brings clarity of thought and a political perspective to bear upon
the complexities of moral arguments about animal rights.
Comparing and contrasting the views of moral philosophers,
including Peter Singer and Tom Regan, Garner tries like any good
politician to find a feasible compromise. His conclusions are
entirely predictable: we should prohibit the cruel excesses of
factory farming, but tolerate traditional farming and meat eating as
legitimate. We should subject animal experimentation to much closer
scrutiny of costs and benefits, but not ban it completely. We
should try to make hunting, circuses, and zoos less cruel, without
Garner bases his conclusions on the combination of his own
intuition with his perception of what would be acceptable to most
people. In effect, Garner seeks the highest common political
denominator consistent with the ethical treatment of animals.
In his last chapter Garner suggests that animal advocates
should seek support primarily in the liberal political philosophy,
rather than among conservatives or socialists.
Even so, Garner points out that the British Labour party is
overwhelmingly anti-fox hunting, indicative of the extent to which
the hunting issue has become symbolic of class conflicts in Britain.