|Torture to get that lovely gait of a Tennessee Walking Horse|
Puryear has a prose style that is elegant, simple and so readable you won't be able to stop. He has zeroed in on Schopenhauer's impeccable thinking. Instead of advocating and arguing for the "rights of animals" he has tied rights to its negative WRONGDOING. We are used to thinking of our inalienable rights from our Constitution but it is so easy to spin them away as other "rights" have been spun - not to mention the destruction of Planet Earth.
To take a concept such as RIGHTS and invert it, turn it on its head is a thought game Einstein often played. So this is what Schopenhauer does with The Rights of Animals.
He ties it to WRONGDOING. If an animal can be wronged, then that is what gives rights.
Again. IF I can wrong you, that means you have rights.
And Schopenhauer goes on to indelibly imprint it on your thinking that animals can be wronged and that ensures that they have rights. Tied to this is The WILL. If the will can be stopped, perverted, thwarted, that is a violation of rights. It is WRONGDOING.
The next question to come up is, Do animals have will? And Puryear carefully details Schopenhauer's thinking. The conclusion is inescapable unless you are determined to be indifferent and dense about this subject. As Foucault might say that the plight of animals has become problematized in the western world.
How great an extension is it to ask about WRONGDOING to rivers, streams, salmon, mountains, et al.
In the Ancient World rivers, oceans were anthropomorphically perceived as belonging to the world of a particular God. Poseidon/Neptune ruled the waves, Apollo the Sun, Diana the Moon, and each was angered if her world was disturbed or changed in any way not initiated by herself.
The jump to perceiving rivers, et all, as capable of being WRONGED (poisoned, damned, made dead, etc) is a concept that feels perfectly true to many of us.