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NOVEMBER 9, 2006 10:24 AM

NOTE: The links for the books provided below are to Amazon.com. If you are considering making a purchase, please entertain the possibility of buying or ordering these books from Schuler Books and Music, our very own independent bookseller here in Grand Rapids. Remember: these books won't be on the shelves in our local bookstores unless we create the demand for them!

Welcome to the first installment of the Featured Author Series!

Given the widespread perception among the general public that veganism and animal rights concerns are long on sentimentality and short on argumentation, one of the primary goals of this blog is to get the word out on authors whose work provides the intellectual grounding for these concerns.

Introducing Peter Singer...

Our first featured author is Peter Singer, the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University. A world famous philosopher and animal advocate, Singer is widely viewed as the father of the contemporary animal rights movement. His magnum opus, Animal Liberation has served since 1975 as the definitive articulation of the moral atrocities perpetrated against non-human animals in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs or "factory farms") and other industries in which animals are subjected to morally unjustifiable treatment.

Singer's most recent contribution to the animal ethics literature is The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter, a collaboration with human/animal rights attorney and author Jim Mason. In my humble estimation, this book is the single best introduction to the ethics of eating currently available, largely because it presents the animal cruelty issue in the context of many other lesser known moral implications of factory agribusiness, including the degradation of the environment, the loss of human dignity suffered by those who work in factory farms, and the personal and public health fallout of the consumption of animal products.

In addition to his own influential writings, Singer has contributed much to the field of animal ethics by way of editing anthologies that showcase the work of other authors. The updated Second Edition of the classic In Defense of Animals, for instance, offers the reader essays on everything from the scientific and religious implications of animal ethics to cutting-edge activism strategies. Those who'd like a sneak peak at one of the excellent essays in this volume may check out the online version of Jim Mason's "Brave New Farm?".

Finally, those concerned about the question of whether Singer's compassion for the suffering of animals extends to the suffering of human beings may wish to consult his classic article "Famine, Affluence and Morality".