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Half a Century of Animal Liberation Is Not Enough

Nearly 50 years after the publication of the book credited with triggering the modern animal-rights movement, a thoroughly revised and updated edition captures current conditions. Because of the growth and further intensification of animal production, humans inflict more suffering on animals now than they did in 1975.

MELBOURNE – Fifty years ago, my first article arguing that it is wrong to treat animals as we do appeared in The New York Review of Books. Two years later my book Animal Liberation was published, subsequently to be credited with triggering the modern animal-rights movement.

Animal Liberation contains both ethical arguments and factual descriptions of what we do to animals. The ethical arguments have stood up well to nearly 50 years of discussion. Similar perspectives are now supported by many philosophers, including those who hold views that are very different from my own utilitarian position: Christine Korsgaard, a Kantian; feminist philosophers like Carol Adams, Alice Crary, and Lori Gruen; Mark Rowlands, who takes a social contract view of animal rights; and Martha Nussbaum, who is closer to Aristotle.

On the other hand, the factual descriptions in Animal Liberation of what we do to animals have long ceased to capture current conditions accurately. So, 18 months ago, I started a complete update and revision of the book, which will be published this month under the title Animal Liberation Now.

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