Justice for Animals

This week's review employs a "capabilities approach," advocating for the rights and opportunities of animals on the basis of their sentience in commemoration of International Animal Rights Day.

Justice for Animals: Our Collective Responsibility

Nussbaum, Martha C. Simon & Schuster, 2023
400p bibl index, 9781982102500 $28.99, 9781982102524 $14.99

Justice for Animals: Our Collective Responsibility book cover.

Distinguished professor of philosophy and law Nussbaum (Univ. of Chicago) is author of over 20 books, among them Frontiers of Justice (CH, Dec’06, 44-2056) and Anger and Forgiveness (CH, Nov’16, 54-1138). At the heart of the work under review is Nussbaum’s guiding principle, the capabilities approach, extended here to posit that each sentient creature should have the opportunity to flourish in the form of life characteristic for that creature. Who are sentient creatures? Nussbaum’s answer: all those beings who can have a subjective point of view on the world and who can feel pain and pleasure. Following this theorem, “justice for animals” lies in the actualization of such opportunities in animals’ everyday lives. In the course of advocating for animals and their well-being, Nussbaum has plenty of interest to say about, e.g., puppy mills, factory farming, the plight of whales and other wildlife, and the responsibilities we bear with respect to our non-human animal friends. Acknowledging the need to go beyond legal reformism, Nussbaum nevertheless concludes that the biggest obstacle to justice for animals lies in their lack of legal standing. This book is a must read.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates. Graduate students and faculty. General readers.
Reviewer
: P. Beirne, emeritus, University of Southern Maine
Interdisciplinary Subjects: Law & Society
Subject: Science & Technology – Biology – Zoology
Choice Issue: May 2023


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