Stefani's Reviews > Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy

Dominion by Matthew Scully
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's review
Apr 18, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: animal-rights, sad, non-fiction

Although a bit tedious at times, Dominion is a series of powerful arguments against the assumption that man's cognitive superiority to animals is correlated with his ability to use them for any purpose he sees fit regardless of how it harms or causes them pain. One of the main assumptions that he challenges is whether or not animals have a "conscious," a hotly contested topic among intellectuals, many of whom think that without the ability to reason or speak, animals are functionally brain dead and, therefore, unworthy of any kind of efforts to spare them pain or suffering. Scully argues that, as humans, we have a greater responsibility to ensure that we aren't causing unnecessary suffering and, he goes on to argue, with limited boundaries and laws safeguarding animals, not much will change.

The fact that Scully was a former speechwriter for President Bush seems at odds with his strong belief in animal rights, but his Conservative background seems to inform his arguments, which reject sentimentality for logic and dispel the myth that all animal advocates are patchouli stinking drum circlers. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course.

But, as someone who has always instinctively winced at pictures of animals being tortured, farmed or experimented upon yet has trouble putting these principles into practice in my own life, it was nice to read something that wasn't all ultra-preachy, you'll burn in a fiery pit of hell condemnation kind of book.

One quote that stood out to me was Scully's observation that people can't morally justify caring about animals and people—there must always be a hierarchy:

Anything we give the creatures must be extra, the unwanted scrap from our moral table.

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