After reading this book, the world won't look the same. Imagine yourself confined to a wheelchair; or living within the severely constricted lifestyle options of a woman in Saudi Arabia; or being a homosexual in a homophobic society; or a coffee farmer in Ethiopia; or a cow on a factory farm; or growing up impoverished in a developing country; or living 500 years from now when future generations may be negatively impacted by what we do today. This compelling thought experiment invites readers to take a moral journey, which in turn leads to an inconvenient evaluation of the way most of us live. The author proposes a new perspective, called universal subjectivism, which can be adopted by anyone regardless of religious or philosophical orientation. It takes into consideration the universal capacity for suffering and, through raising awareness, seeks to diminish that suffering and increase happiness. With consistent and crystal clear moral reasoning, van den Berg shows that the world can be organized to ensure more pleasure, beauty, justice, happiness, health, freedom, animal welfare, and sustainability. He emphasizes that today the near-term future is our greatest challenge: our affluent western lifestyle will soon exceed the limits of the earth's sustainable capacity and must soon change drastically to ward off a worldwide environmental collapse. Knowing this, we should all reevaluate the daily routines we take for granted: taking the car to work, boarding a plane to a business or vacation destination, eating meat, buying strawberries in winter, or using plastic bags in stores. There are ethical and ecological objections to each of these examples. In fact, if we applied a strict ethical analysis to our lifestyle, almost nothing we do would pass muster. Concluding with an eco-humanist manifesto, this offers much food for thought but, more importantly, an urgent and inspiring call to action.
About the Author
Floris van den Berg is a lecturer on environmental philosophy at Utrecht University in The Netherlands. He is also the executive director of the Center for Inquiry Low Countries and vice president of the freethought association De Vrije Gedachte. He is the author of four books in Dutch.