Humane Society?

Why Animal Suffering Matters
Philosophy, Theology, and Practical Ethics
Andrew Linzey
Oxford University Press, $29.95, 206 pp.

Three years ago, in response to an article on vegetarianism that I published in this magazine (“All We Can Eat?” July 13, 2007), Andrew Linzey sent me an e-mail with the subject “Disappointment” and the valediction “Yours sorrowfully.” In between, he took me to task for making “the mistake of almost all Catholic moralists” who write on this topic—namely, “of focusing almost entirely [on] the modern secular, philosophical literature for animals…without engaging...the now extensive modern theological discussions of animals.” He also wished that his e-mail “might (in God’s providence) stimulate [me] to look deeper and ponder further.”

Linzey is an Anglican priest and a theologian at Oxford University, where he directs the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics. He was among the first to open up the field that has come to be called “animal theology” (the title of what is still probably his best book). He has written or edited twenty-three books, all but a handful of which concern animals. The newest of these, Why Animal Suffering Matters, is neither his best nor his most original work, but it is still worth recommending to anyone unfamiliar with his arguments.

At his best, Linzey is an impressively creative theologian. On the one hand, his passion for animals as “fellow-creatures” leads him to be highly critical of much of the Western theological and philosophical tradition. The...

To read the rest of this article please login or become a subscriber.

About the Author

Bernard G. Prusak is associate professor of philosophy and director of the McGowan Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility at King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.