THE ANIMAL RIGHTS CRUSADE: The Growth of a Moral Protest by James M. & Dorothy Nelkin Jasper

THE ANIMAL RIGHTS CRUSADE: The Growth of a Moral Protest

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Another, more questionable, attempt to defend ""science"" from attack by groups that Nelkin (The Creation Controversy, 1982, etc.) and Jasper (both Sociology/N.Y.U.) describe as ""abaolutist,"" ""uncompromising"" ""fundamentalism"" One problem is that the authors' own attack is couched in a tone of pseudo-objectivity. Their early attribution of movement attitudes to social developments in past centuries and to more recent popular intellectual currents is intelligent and useful, and their tracing of the progression of pro-animal forces from the original, protective ""welfare"" model through ""pragmatist"" defenders to ""fundamentalist"" believers in animal rights sorts out these elements nicely. But there's a snide undercurrent, as words like ""strident,"" ""absolutist,"" ""exploit,"" and ""claim"" slide into the same peremptory analysis. And all show of objectivity goes out the window in the chapters on issues of animals in laboratory research and factory farming. The latter concentrates on the argument that most people are unlikely to convert to vegetarianism, calls ""the 'ahisma' [the doctrine that all life is sacred] shared by Buddhists, Jains and Hindus"" a ""notion,"" and ends a summary of controversial practices on factory farms with the sole (and highly debatable) comment that ""these techniques have made American agriculture extremely efficient."" By book's end, the authors abandon logic for potshots and contradictory arguments (e.g., at one point citing improvement in laboratories' care of animals and at another claiming that the animal defenders' efforts have been unproductive). For all that, their study may be widely cited as a balanced analysis. It's not.

Pub Date: Dec. 16th, 1991
Page count: 280pp
Publisher: Free Press/Macmillan