Rattling the Cage Rattling the Cage


Steven M. Wise
Format: Hard Cover
Length: 362 pages
Publisher: Perseus Books
ISBN: 0738200654
Copyright: 2000

Are animals more than property? In this unprecedented yet long-awaited book, Steven Wise finally breaks through the wall that has separated non-humans from human animals for centuries. He reveals that while the way we view animals is changing rapidly, the courts remain mired in the dark ages. Even a human lost in a permanent vegetative state enjoys a large set of legal rights. But a chimpanzee who can communicate with language, count, understand the minds of others, feel complex emotions, live in a complex society, and make and use tools has no rights at all.

Rattling the Cage makes stunningly clear how our failure to recognize the fundamental rights of such animals – in light of what we now know about their intelligence and emotions – creates a glaring contradiction. Not only does this failure allow us to treat animals unjustly, but it undermines the foundation of human rights.


“This is one of those rare books that are deeply troubling in the best sense of the word, intellectually and ethically. It puts on trial a part of our human self-image that has made us less noble than we wish to be.”
-- Edward O. Wilson, Harvard University

“An extraordinary book, beautifully written, and carefully reasoned. It is every law school teacher’s hope that a former student will write a book like this one – original, cogently argued and compassionate. Steven Wise’s lifetime work of protecting and pursuing animal rights informs every page of this compelling book, just as his keen analytical mind puts the fundamental issues to us in a way we cannot ignore.”
-- Daniel Coquillette, former Dean of Boston College Law School

About the Author

Steven M. Wise, J.D. has practiced animal protection law for twenty years and teaches “Animal Rights Law” at the Harvard Law School, Vermont Law School, John Marshall Law School, and in the Masters Program in Animals and Public Policy at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine. Former president of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, founder and president of the Center for the Expansion of Fundamental Rights, he has written numerous scholarly articles about animal rights and has collaborated and communicated for years with leading scientists in the fields of primatology and animal intelligence and behavior.

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