conclusion
Loving, Being, Killing Animals
NEIL L. WHITEHEAD
Since the appearance of Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation (1975), followed by
Tom Regan and Singer’s Animal Rights and Human Obligations (1976), an
incremental but clearly visible shift in the public view of human-animal
relations has occurred, inspired by a growing output of books, articles, and
films, the appearance of organizations and grassroots movements, and life-
style changes.∞
Previously obscured from critical inquiry, nonhuman nature
became the object of philosophical discourse, mostly confined to univer-
sities in Europe and the United States.≤
The result has been a series of reforms leading to more humane treat-
ment of animals, the spread of direct-action politics around such issues as
hunting, trapping, lab testing, and animal farming, and greater public readi-
ness to take animal interests seriously, leading, for example, to stiffer prison
sentences in cases of animal cruelty. There is a general heightened aware-
ness, thanks partly to the Darwinian legacy, that humans and animals oc-
cupy the same temporal space, their fates organically bound together with-
in the same planetary ecology. However, this liberal cultural framework fails
to escape the logic of capitalism and colonialism, since the universalization
of ‘‘human’’ rights and the extension of those rights to ‘‘animals’’ begs many
questions as to animality and humanity as well as about the emancipatory
potential of the human rights discourse itself. This issue is important since,
as Regina Horta Duarte suggests in this volume, ‘‘during the first decades of
the twentieth century, the processes of constructing national identities in
various Latin American countries were decisively linked to the sciences of
the natural world.’’
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