Posted: March 18th, 2023
particular book. The author in question is a man by the name of Steven Wise. Wise has written two quite notable books about animal rights and the debate about the same and the book under review, that being Drawing the Line, is one of those two books. The prior offering on the same general subject was called Rattling the Cage. The author of this report will focus on four chapters in particular when it comes to Drawing the Line, those being the second, third, eleventh and twelfth chapters. Those chapters pertain to a number of subjects including who gets liberty rights, Koko the gorilla and legal rights for non-human animals. While many people may assert that the animal rights argument is cut and dry and that no animal holds the same (or even a similar) status as humans, the debate is actually quite deep and expansive and Wise does a masterful job of laying out his case for the same.
One thing that is prevalent in the four chapters in question (and the rest of the book, for that matter) is that Wise’s position on animal rights is most certainly in favor of the animals. The animals he speaks of include everything from gorillas (Koko), parrots, dolphins and even his family dog. His rhetoric in the four chapters under review largely center on the fact that humans and non-human animals are not nearly as different and disparate as many might think. For example, Koko may seem like a gorilla to many and nothing more. However, she has been given a specific name, she is able to communicate with humans quite effectively through signing and that animal possesses a lot of the same faculties and abilities as humans. Wise is able to use his rhetoric strongly given that he is not analyzing and assessing these animals from afar. Rather than just assess the work of others, he is front and center with the animals he is looking at and is thus able to make first-hand observations (Wise, 2002).
The second, third and twelfth chapters follow much the same theme and that is the exploration of animal rights and how the field and study of the same is progressing, albeit fairly slowly and with a lot of skepticism. It is noted in the chapters that it is folly and perhaps majorly unethical to dismiss the rights of animals. It is noted that many hold humans as being superior and having dominion over animals. This sort of logic is ensconced even in religion. However, Wise stands out in his use of the word “liberty” when it comes to animals. This is rather jarring to some because many would only ascribe the concept of liberty to humans. Indeed, he presents a very compelling and thorough argument and it is based on his first-hand observations and studies of the animals in question. Many people without an open mind would be aghast or even offended at what Wise is suggesting. However, Wise goes out of his way to just state his assertions and ideas on the subject. He is not incendiary, rude, demeaning or otherwise improper in the way he presents his arguments and assertions. He is not some random book-writer that just slaps together what he thinks about the subject and prints it. He has clearly taken the time to study and look at the subject (Wise, 2002).
Even if one disagrees with his assertions about animals and their rights (and surely many will), he is not engaging in any improper forms of debate or discourse. There are surely those that will counter and address his findings in their own way but Wise’s candor in this book does not seem to indicate he is worried about that. His position is well-versed, well-studied and well-presented. This is not to say that others could not present a contrarian position that is not equally well-done. Even so, Wise makes a compelling argument and his book is a must-read.
Wise, S. (2002). Drawing the line. Cambridge, Mass.: Perseus Books.
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