Animal Rights: History and Scope of a Radical Social Movement

By Harold D. Guither | Go to book overview
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Radical social movements are not new in American history. Abolition of slavery, women's suffrage, prohibition (and repeal), and, in recent years, the civil rights movement and anti-Vietnam war protests were launched by radical thinkers who eventually amassed public support and achieved their goals.

Now in the past decade, as philosopher Bernard Rollin points out, we have "witnessed a major revolution in social concern with animal welfare and moral status of animals."1

The animal rights movement has emerged from old ideas but with new philosophies emphasizing moral and ethical standards for how humans should treat animals. This emerging social movement has received literary attention from its advocates and opponents. This book attempts to describe and document the movement from the middle of the road. Such a goal, if not impossible, is not easy. Most philosophers in this field present ideas that appear to be reasonable and plausible. But in the real world, confusion, suspicion, misunderstanding, and mistrust exist about the activists and the opponents in the movement, their true character, objectives, and beliefs.

On the one side are those who resist reform, are concerned about the consequences of radical change in handling and treating animals, and are ready to defend their business, property rights, position, and beliefs. On the other side, activists who accept the new philosophies are determined to convince others of their beliefs.

So in this work, my goal is to present a brief history of animal protection and the emergence of animal rights, describe the scope of the movement, and identify some of the major players and organizations.

To develop a useful reference for students, animal owners, users, and other interested persons is a formidable task. My purpose is not to answer why the movement has reached its current status but rather to document what is happening in the 1990s and the possible consequences for those who own, use, or enjoy animals in entertainment and leisure pursuits.

This publication should be most useful as a text and reference for students in animal sciences, veterinary medicine, philosophy, and public policy. Animal owners, practitioners, and professionals engaged in animal and biomedical research, animal


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Animal Rights: History and Scope of a Radical Social Movement
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