Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism
Being Careful About Caring: Feminism and Animal Ethics
by David Sztybel
This book is dubbed a reader and is without peer in that capacity. Serious students in (feminist) animal ethics should read it closely. It is a successor publication to a collection by the same editors, Beyond Animal Rights: A Feminist Caring Ethic for the Treatment of Animals (1996), and the newer book contains all but one of the old readings. The former title would not do, for although many criticisms of rights are repeated, some of the contributors affirm animal rights as well as “caring.”
Highlights include the seminal “Liberation of Nature” by Marti Kheel, Josephine Donovan’s history of sympathy in animal ethics (the best article of its kind, I think), and Kenneth Shapiro’s findings that animal activists are more “caring” than intellectual or philosophical. This collection newly offers “Part II: Responses.” Thomas Kelch has an article reconciling caring with rights; Grace Clement thoughtfully comments on care, justice, and wildlife; Catherine MacKinnon has a “fragment” on animal rights; and Donovan features at the end her piece on listening to what animals are “telling” us. Part II increases the attraction of the project. I miss Rita C. Manning’s essay “Caring for Animals” from Beyond, though, because it applies caring to particular animals—a favored piece with several students I have taught.
This review is long, recognizing the importance of the collection, and I discuss the book thematically to encourage a coherent approach. I first give well-deserved praises, then explore caring in relation to animal rights, and next apply criticism—together with a suggestion of a possible “way out” of the objections.
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