My book review of Dominion is up over at the Ecologist.
Something has gone wrong with the way the world treats animals, Matthew Scully reflects in Dominion, his cerebral investigation into mankind’s treatment of animals. Published a decade ago in the USA, it has now been released in the UK with a new introduction and maintains, a decade later, contemporary relevance. ‘Animals are more than ever a test of our character, of mankind’s capacity for empathy and for decent, honourable conduct and faithful stewardship. We are called to treat them with kindness, not because they have rights or some claim to equality, but in a sense because they don’t; because they stand unequal and powerless before us.’ These early sentiments are characteristic of Scully’s thoughtful approach to animal welfare. It comes from a conservative perspective, not a liberal one; and is not, strictly speaking, about rights at all, but conscience.
This is an important stance as well as an unusual one. Thousands of treatises on welfare or ecology are written from the perspective of the sympathetic liberal but Scully conducts his investigations from the perspective of a proponent of the free market. That a great many environmental problems are a result of market failures isn’t in question but you can’t help admiring American conservative Scully’s chutzpah in acknowledging it.
Check out the rest of the review, if that’s of interest. It’s a fascinating book. Hopefully I’ll be writing a few more reviews for the Ecologist, which I’m excited about because I’ve admired this prominent environmental publication for years. Also, it’s nice to be able to talk about environmental issues a little more.