The natural continuation of this series about meat eating is covering books such as Meathooked or Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows, and we will get to the later after this post. But while working on Elias’s thesis, we have encountered a book called Animals & Society by Keith Tester which we felt we also had to address as part of this series.
The book’s main theme is that ‘animal rights’ is not a natural truth that have waited for someone to discover, but a social construct which was invented under specific historical circumstances, and for human purposes.
Subtitling his book The Humanity of Animal Rights, Tester is not only pointing at the fact that humans’ relation to animals is bound to be humane for the obvious circumstantial reason that animals can’t represent themselves, but also and especially because humans’ only interest in animals is as objects who serve to define humans’ humanity.
Covering several theorists from the fields of ethology, sociobiology, anthropology, social history, philosophy, sociology, and most importantly animal rights, tester’s arguments are much more challenging than they may sound on the face of it.
He is far from being the conventional critique of animals rights and therefore worth your attention. Ours was caught by some of the points he made during his historical and sociological examination of the concept of animal rights, as well as ones which he didn’t make but his analysis emphasizes. In this post we wish to discuss mainly one of them, but to do so, first, some background is needed. Continue reading