Empty Cages: Facing the Challenge of Animal Rights

Empty Cages: Facing the Challenge of Animal RightsThe question of animal rights is an emotive one. It divides the population of the world right down the middle with one half of the population considering animals a resource to be exploited. One of the main challenges of animal rights is determining where to strike a balance. Should the world take the position of militant animal rights advocates and let all animals roam free without using them for food or amusement. Or should animals be used for food but not amusement?

The Book

Written by Tom Reagan, the book wades into the murky water of animal rights activism. One of the focuses of the book is trying to dispel the notion that animal rights activists are tree hugging weirdos. He goes on to peel the veil behind the notion of humane treatment of animals. He argues that telling people to treat animals in a humane manner is actually a license for cruelty. Reagan in this book establishes himself once again as a leading philosophical voice in the animal rights movement.

The book tries to moderate the view of the general public on the animal rights movement and sensitize them on the best course of action. It explains the rationale behind the movement and also a justification of the methods that activists use to push their agenda. The book is written in form of a manifesto. In the treatise, Reagan says that there should be a codified bill of animal rights which absolutely prohibits any kind of animal exploitation whether the exploitation is for food or any other purpose.

In his attempt to convince the skeptics, Reagan says that animals like mammals, birds and fish are what he refers to as subjects of a life. As such they the author argues that the animals have the capacity to be concerned with what happens to them. in Reagana’s argument. This is an indication that they have freedom form exploitation. The challenge with this argument is that animals end up having more rights than human beings because they cannot waive these rights. If they do not have the capacity to waive these rights under any circumstances for the benefits of anyone, how can they have rights?

Although there appears to have to be glaring holes in his argument, Reagan scores some serious emotional appeal when he narrates the suffering that animals in factory farms go through. Reagan shows his passion for animals through the exasperation with which he treats counter arguments against the animal right proponents.


Reagan comes across as determined and focused on making the world feel ashamed of the way it has been treating animals throughout the years. It is true that he achieved this to some extent. It is however noteworthy that the vast majority of the people who applaud the book are animal rights activist, they are able to get a well articulate vision of why they protect animals and what the role of human beings in the suffering of animals.

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