Cover image for The specter of speciesism : Buddhist and Christian views of animals
The specter of speciesism : Buddhist and Christian views of animals
Waldau, Paul.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Oxford University Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xvi, 303 pages ; 25 cm.
Reading Level:
1640 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
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BQ4570.A53 W35 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The concept of speciesism, coined in 1970 as an analogy to racism, has been discussed almost exclusively within philosophical circles. Here, Waldau looks at how non-human animals have been viewed in the Buddhist and Christian religious traditions.

Author Notes

Paul Waldau holds a doctorate in ethics from Oxford University, a law degree from UCLA, and a Master's Degree from Stanford University. He is currently Assistant Clinical Professor at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, where he is on the faculty of the Center for Animals and Public Policy. He teaches courses entitled "Jurisprudence Ethics" and "The Human-Animal bond." He is also an adjunct faculty member at Boston College Law Schooland Harvard Law School, where he teaches animal law courses.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This book demonstrates how scholarly the growing literature on animals and ethics is becoming. A slightly revised version of the author's 1997 Oxford dissertation, it has some of the limitations of that genre. Nevertheless, Waldau (Tufts Univ. School of Veterinary Medicine) develops the most exhaustive argument yet for the term speciesism, defined as a bias toward the interests of one's own species. The problem with speciesism is the implication that honoring human uniqueness is incompatible with showing compassion for nonhuman animals. A case may be made for Christianity as supporting a speciesist view of the moral uniqueness of humans while providing the foundation for animal welfare. Waldau's reading of Christianity, however, does not take into account the ways in which Christian eschatology privileges domesticated animals. He thinks that wild animals should be accepted as they are, violence included. The most creative and important part of the book is Waldau's argument that Buddhism does not favor animals nearly as much as is widely assumed. Although Waldau tries too hard to cover too much ground, this book should become standard reading for all those interested in animal rights. Suitable for general readers through professionals. S. H. Webb Wabash College

Table of Contents

Abbreviationsp. xv
The Specter of Speciesismp. 1
Introductionp. 3
Part I Religion and Speciesismp. 9
1 Animals and Religious Traditionsp. 11
2 Exclusion and the Concept of Speciesismp. 20
3 Criticisms of Speciesismp. 40
Part II Animals and Religionp. 57
4 Other Complex Animals: Missed Opportunities?p. 59
5 What is an Animal?p. 88
Part III Is There Speciesism in Buddhism?p. 111
6 Other Animals in the Pali Canonp. 113
7 The Buddhist Understanding of Other Animalsp. 137
Part IV Is There Speciesism in Christianity?p. 157
8 Other Animals in the Christian Traditionp. 159
9 The Christian Understanding of Other Animalsp. 202
Conclusionp. 218
Appendix 1 Transliteration, Orthography, and Italicizationp. 219
Appendix 2 Defined Termsp. 221
Notesp. 223
Bibliographyp. 257