Book Review: The End of Animal Farming (Jacy Reese, 2018)

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Price: ***
Ease of use: *****
Value for EAA be­gin­ners: *****
Value for EAA pros: ****

Dis­claimer: I work full-time for Sen­tience In­sti­tute. This post rep­re­sents en­tirely my own views, rather than those of my em­ploy­ers. Given that I work with Jacy, I am not the best per­son to write a re­view of the book, but I thought it was worth in­clud­ing the book on But Can They Suffer, so that the site can con­tinue to list re­views of books from mem­bers of the EAA com­mu­nity.

To some ex­tent, The End of An­i­mal Farm­ing has a dual au­di­ence: 1) an­i­mal ad­vo­cates seek­ing to in­te­grate the per­spec­tives and in­sights from the Effec­tive Altru­ism com­mu­nity and its re­search into their ad­vo­cacy; 2) those oth­er­wise not deeply en­gaged in an­i­mal ad­vo­cacy, who can benefit from un­der­stand­ing how an­i­mal ad­vo­cacy in­ter­acts with the wider goal of moral cir­cle ex­pan­sion, with the effec­tive al­tru­ism move­ment, and with cur­rent tech­nolog­i­cal de­vel­op­ments. I would guess it would be slightly more use­ful for the former than the lat­ter.

The book uses re­search from Sen­tience In­sti­tute and the wider an­i­mal ad­vo­cacy com­mu­nity. It cov­ers much of the same ground as the foun­da­tional ques­tions sum­maries and re­search posts, but the in­sights from pre­vi­ous work are in­te­grated into a nar­ra­tive form. In this sense, it is a com­fortable and en­joy­able read, which helps to fa­mil­iarise the reader with some of the cur­rent re­search in­sights, but also with many of the key “sci­en­tists, en­trepreneurs, and ac­tivists” in­volved in the pre­dicted end of an­i­mal farm­ing.

Due to the more nar­ra­tive style than most of SI’s ma­te­ri­als, the book tends to read slightly more like a state­ment of Jacy’s cur­rent be­liefs in some key is­sues in an­i­mal ad­vo­cacy than as a neu­tral list of all rele­vant ar­gu­ments. Coun­ter­ar­gu­ments are still in­cluded, how­ever, and the book re­mains bal­anced and fair.

I would recom­mend TEOF as a fan­tas­tic in­tro­duc­tion to effec­tive an­i­mal ad­vo­cacy, above Cooney’s book, Change of Heart: What Psy­chol­ogy Can Teach us About Spread­ing So­cial Change. Cooney’s book is very use­ful, but is quite nar­row in its fo­cus and is dense with psy­cholog­i­cal stud­ies. TEOF has a broader fo­cus and is more read­able. Aside from the notes – which are of­ten worth read­ing – there’s only 164 pages.

For many already in­volved in an­i­mal ad­vo­cacy, the book will likely in­clude some ev­i­dence from less fa­mil­iar sources (from his­tor­i­cal so­cial move­ments to psy­chol­ogy stud­ies) or broader per­spec­tives on the farmed an­i­mal move­ment which in­cor­po­rate wild an­i­mals and longer-term fu­ture con­sid­er­a­tions. If you are already very up-to-date with effec­tive an­i­mal ad­vo­cacy re­search and Sen­tience In­sti­tute’s work, there may not be many par­tic­u­larly sur­pris­ing in­sights in the book, al­though you will likely en­joy read­ing it. You may also find some of the dis­cus­sion and re-phras­ing of fa­mil­iar is­sues to be use­ful, or gain in­sight into less fa­mil­iar is­sues (for me, a good ex­am­ple was a dis­cus­sion of how to frame mes­sages to ap­peal to more con­ser­va­tive au­di­ences).

Over­all, an ex­cel­lent book for a va­ri­ety of au­di­ences.

If you’d like to see more crit­i­cal, ex­ter­nal re­view, see here, al­though I’ll note that I don’t re­ally agree with the crit­i­cisms.

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