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Animal Rights Books with Three Recommendations (2020-04-07)

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This short video provides information on an online library with millions of digital books, including over 300 books on animal rights. In addition it recommends three books in the library and shows how the library can uniquely facilitate book discussion groups.

Mentioned in Video

Marc Bekoff, James Rachaels, Tom Regan, Peter Singer, Henry Spira, Stephen RL Clark, Caroline Earle White; Indirectly: Lawrence Finsen, Susan Finsen


The recommended books on

Approximate Transcript

Hi everyone, Greg here, with, also known as the JFA Wiki. Some of you have asked for recommendations on books to read during these weird stay-at-home times.

So I'm going to recommend three great books, and I'm going to tell you where you can check out not just those three digital books for free, with no waiting lists, but literally millions of books on all manner of topics, including over 300 books on animal rights. That's right, over 300 books on animal rights, some of which are hard to find elsewhere.

You'll find links to all this in the notes or comments.

The library is called The Internet Archive, and you can find it at

They're a non-profit group that provides not only digital books, but also movies, software, music, and access to archived web sites in what is known as their Wayback Machine.

Citing our national emergency, they loosened their checkout restrictions, and now through June, or until the end of this emergency, there are NO waiting lists, so any number of people can check out the same book at the same time.

Even after this situation ends, the internet archive will still be a great resource for books.

Now on to the recommendations and my first recommendation is a book by Marc Bekoff.

Bekoff is probably the world's foremost cognitive ethologist. He's an expert on animal behavior and has written over 30 books and hundreds of essays on the topic. He also co-founded "Ethologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals", along with Jane Goodall.

Several of his books are in the archive, but the one I want to highlight is one titled "The Emotional Lives of Animals." It's about just how deep and complex animal emotions can be, and why that matters.

He will lead you through the scientific evidence that animals are capable of friendship, loyalty, affection, tenderness, devotion, commitment, compassion, and even falling in love.

Moving on quickly, my second recommendation is a book on the history of the animal rights movement in America, appropriately titled "The Animal Rights Movement in America."

In addition to covering the history of the movement, this book also provides a clear and concise overview of various philosophical frameworks for animal rights, including Peter Singer's utilitarian approach and Tom Regan's deontological rights-based approach.

A lot of history here. Now, if you're in the movement and you've never heard of an activist named Henry Spira, you should consider reading this book.

Or maybe you don't know about Caroline Earle White, who founded the American anti-vivisection Society in 1883, but was not even allowed to serve on the board of directors because, you guessed it, she was a woman..

Fascinating stuff. This book even includes a discussion on the next book I'm going to recommend.

That book, and my third and final recommendation, is a book by James Rachels titled "Created from Animals."

Now, James Rachels is not among the most well-known animal rights philosophers, but maybe he should be. He's highly cited, and if you look in the index of any book on animal rights, or any book on ethics as far as that goes, you will likely see his name.

I'll admit I'm biased—he was the chair of the philosophy department when I got my degree in philosophy from the University of Alabama in Birmingham. At that time, his textbook "The Elements of Moral Philosophy" was the most used textbook in the country for beginning ethics courses.

And guess what, The Elements of Moral Philosophy" is also available from the archive. It's a really big archive.

The picture you see over my shoulder has Rachels in the middle, along with some other people, alI of whom I've already mentioned, except for the guy in the tie.

After I found this picture online, Peter Singer informed me that it was taken at an animal rights conference way back in 1979. From left to right, in their crazy seventies garb, we see Peter Singer, Tom Regan, James Rachels, Stephen RL Clark, and the activist I mentioned earlier, Henry Spira.

You'll notice that Tom Regan is putting himself in great danger here, being a deontologist squeezed between two utilitarians. If you don't get that, no problem, read my second recommendation and you will.

Back to Rachel's book, "Created from Animals."

It was published in 1990. It's about the moral implications of Darwinism, and the title is taken from one of Darwin's quotes.

You see, after the Origin of the Species was published, both theologians and secular philosophers had a tendency to deny that Darwin's work had any ethical implications. Instead, they would fall back on the old adage that science is science and religion is religion, and never the twain shall meet.

But Rachels argues that, given Darwin's well-founded assertion that humans and non-human animals differ only in degree but not in kind, then our conventional moral thinking is based on assumptions that are no longer valid and therefore these assumptions must be challenged.

And that he does, taking issue with our beliefs about the other earthlings, the other sentient beings, who share this planet with us. Altogether an enlightening read.

So that's it for the book recommendations. Indulge yourself in these fat-free, calorie-free delights. They are easy to get now, and you won't be disappointed.

One last thought on how we could finagle some virtual group experiences out of this. It may be obvious but I'll say it anyway.

Since any number of people can check out the same book at the same time now, and access to the books is free, this is an ideal situation for online book discussion groups. These groups could be facilitated by the free version of the Zoom software or some other similar technology.

And, if you've been following the news about Zoom's privacy debacles, maybe some of Zoom's staff will listen in and learn something too.

So that's it. Thanks for listening, stay safe, and I hope to see you all soon when I hit the road once again.


The post and the video were produced by Greg Fuller.