cover image Justice for Animals: Our Collective Responsibility

Justice for Animals: Our Collective Responsibility

Martha Nussbaum. Simon & Schuster, $28.99 (400p) ISBN 978-1-9821-0250-0

Animal rights can and should be protected, according to this lucid analysis from University of Chicago law professor Nussbaum (The Monarchy of Fear). “No non-human animal escapes human domination,” she writes, and, in fact, “much of the time, that domination inflicts wrongful injury on animals.” And while humans harming animals is nothing new, Nussbaum argues that such harm is currently inflicted on a much greater scale than ever, and that almost every human is culpable in polluting the planet. Moreover, scientific discoveries have established that animals are capable of feeling pain and have rich emotional lives and complex forms of social organization. Nussbaum reviews and dismisses prior frameworks for articulating the rights owed to animals—such as the Utilitarian approach (which takes into account primarily pleasure and pain, and is “too simple”) and the Kantian (which, in essence, suggests treating animals better in service of humans’ “own improvement”)—and puts forth her own theory called the “Capabilities Approach,” which asserts that “each sentient creature... should have the opportunity to flourish in the form of life characteristic for that creature.” As well, Nussbaum suggests a government-designated welfare agency be granted “for each type of animal.” This trenchant and masterful blend of political analysis, philosophical study, and call to action is a must-read. (Jan.)