Philosophy > General AR Philosophy
Why ARAs Should Support Incremental Reforms

Feb 20, 2011. the full article:

Bruce Friedrich: Getting from A to Z: Why Animal Activists Should Support Incremental Reforms to Help Animals


The Golden Rule: Considering the Animals' Point of View

Social justice advocates working for others' rights (as opposed to their own rights) must put themselves in the shoes of those on whose behalf they're working. And when we put ourselves in the animals' place, it is easy to see the importance of welfare reforms: If you were destined to be killed, wouldn't you still have a strong preference to spend your life in a large barn, rather than a tiny wire cage where you couldn't spread one wing for your entire life? Given the choice to have your throat slit open while you were completely conscious, or to be put to sleep first, wouldn't you strongly prefer the latter option? None of us would say, "well, I'm just going to die anyway. Please only fight for my complete release!" And of course, if these were human beings, not one of us would say -- let them suffer; we want complete liberation! (...)

Second, meat-eating continues in part because people are divorced from meat as living, breathing animals. On Oprah recently, Michael Pollan commented on the how Oprah's audience cringed to have to watch farmed animals at all, and he pointed out 1) that the scene that upset them was far from the worst they were supporting as meat eaters; and 2) that if they couldn't watch animals being slaughtered, they shouldn't eat meat. Basically, anything that draws attention to the fact that meat is animal corpses, and that these animals have interests, will be good for the animal rights movement.

Recent science backs up these intuitive observations, including a Kansas State study which found that media attention on animal issues in the U.S. has had "significant, negative effects" on meat demand. Vegetarian author and researcher Norm Phelps elaborated on this point in an article for the European Vegetarian and Animal News Alliance:

The Slave Analogy: Why Welfare Reformers are Abolitionists
Of course advocating for better conditions and for the end of an abusive system altogether are not mutually exclusive. In the case of slavery, it was reasonable to argue, "While we ought to abolish slavery altogether, until that happens, we shouldn't allow slave-owners to whip and rape slaves." Any abolitionist who seriously suggested at the time that "the worst slave owners were those who were kind to their slaves" would have been laughed at (derisively)....

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