This updated anthology gives us some of the best writing throughout history about the morality of how people treat non-human animals. It includes contributions from Plato, writing in the 4th century B.C., and from various big names since then, including St Thomas Aquinas, John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx, and Bertrand Russell.
Not all the philosophers are on our side, but by reading the opposition, we can understand better the context in which more supportive writers developed their ideas.
Most of the writers who (broadly) take an animal rights perspective are still alive today, but powerful arguments included in defence of animals certainly go back as far as the eighteenth century, with Jeremy Bentham’s classic denunciation of speciesism, “The question is not, Can they reason? Nor, Can they talk? But, Can they suffer?” However, the highlights are the contributions from two contemporary writers, Peter Singer and Robert Nozick, who both argue powerfully that if we are opposed to arbitrary discrimination against other people just because they are different to us in some way, then simple logic means that we cannot discount non-human animals’ interests, just because they belong to a different species. If you want to read a broad range of opinions, and you are ready for a challenging read, then this book is highly recommended. 193pp.