By: Staff  Date: 01/15/2012 Category: | Book Reviews |

A money-saving idea

It has to be said: lawyer Gary Francione's book Rain Without Thunder is no bargain at $59.95.

The first 109 pages are largely a review of the past 20 years of the animal rights phenomenon and, as such, are interesting to read, at least by someone who has not lived with it ad nauseam or kept up with PeTA news and various biomedical research newsletters. Of course, there is the usual one-sided rehash of old cases, but Francione is not afraid to make enemies on the animal rights side: I enjoyed his reminder of PeTA's Aspen Hill Sanctuary massacre when they slaughtered "rescued" bunnies rather than expend some funds to let them live out their lives.

But the last 121 pages are 101 too many after one gets the idea that Francione is a purist who has no truck with gradualist, animal welfare approaches. He wants the ideal of absolutely no human use of animals as property in any form - now. On this point he is redundant. But I ask: "Where's the beef?" How is the animal rights philosophy in all its purity going to work in the real world? Are any other species likely to sign a covenant of non-interference? Is Francione ready to put himself ahead of the first rat to test a new, potentially life-saving drug? One hopes for an answer in "Conclusion," the final chapter, but this turns out to be only a summary of the basic theme: animal rights are not to be monkeyed with.

Francione does do a good job of explaining Tom Regan's views and critiquing Peter Singer's utilitarian philosophy. However, he does not describe the misrepresentations of the value of animal-based research and modern animal-care practices that allowed Singer to tip the scales against the use of animals.

So, my money-saving idea: For the price of a postcard, one can obtain an analysis of Singer's dubious practices from Sharon Russell and Charles Nicoll (1). Two more postcards will get you rather good analyses (2),(3) of both Singer's and Regan's philosophies. All three articles represent a real saving, although I'm a bit embarrassed to push the one by me.

1. Russell, S.M. & Nicoll, C.S.:
A dissection of the chapter "Tools for Research" in Peter Singer's Animal Liberation.
Proc. Soc. Exp. Biol. Med. (211/2) 1996:109-138.

2. Vance, R.P:
An introduction to the philosophical presuppositions of the animal liberation/rights movement.
JAMA 268:1715-1719, 1992.

3.Morrison, A.R.
Animal rights philosophy vs. biological reality
Iowa State Veterinarian 58:10-17, 1996.

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All Authors Of This Article: | Adrian Morrison DVM, PhD |
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