Animal Rights or Animal Welfare (Help for an Essay I'm writing) - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 09-12-2011, 02:54 PM
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Hi, in school my teacher gave us a list of topics that we could chose from to write an essay on. Animal Rights AND Animal Welfare are both options. I figured it would just make sense to do one of those. I feel like I know a lot about the subject of animals, but I don't really know where the line is between "Welfare" and "Rights." It seems to be kind of blurry. Can someone briefly explain it for me and also tell me what they feel would be an easier essay to write?
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#2 Old 09-12-2011, 03:01 PM
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Welfare, easier by far. The two do blur, but at the heart of animal welfare is simple concern for the animal's psychological and physical well-being.

Rights started getting into kind of esoteric ideas about how non-human animals should have their interests be considered as people generally consider other humans. That they have a right to an autonomous existence without the interference of humans, within reason - as human rights are. Animal rights theory can go right into whether it is ethical or a breach of an animal's autonomous existence to have pets. Animal welfare only is concerned whether the owner is treating the pet with due care.

But you can have someone who is both concerned about animal welfare, and an animal rights activist.

I always wonder about people who say they "love" animals, but continue to eat meat. If that's your idea of love, I question what sort of twisted world view you must have.

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#3 Old 09-12-2011, 03:27 PM
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There's definitely a strong difference between the two, but it manifests itself in complicated ways. Fracione is the consummate rights advocate whereas Peta often represents a welfarist approach. The difference is simple: rights folks believe animals ought to have legally enforced rights to not be killed, abused, used as objects, etc. Welfarists believe that animals ought to be treated well or "humanely," but shouldn't have legally defined rights (legally defined protections, perhaps, but not rights). Many welfarists are, in fact, not opposed to the slaughter and consumption of animals so long as it's done "humanely".

When it comes to activism, we often use the terms "welfare" and "abolition". Rights advocates like Francione are abolitionists. Just like their ante bellum counterparts, modern day abolitionists want an end to animal exploitation full stop and prefer vegan outreach and education as the way forward. Welfare as a form of activism seeks incremental change (larger cages, more "humane" methods of slaughter). By welfarist standards, a person like Temple Grandin may even be seen as philosophical bedfellow. The part where it gets fuzzy is that SOME people practice a welfarist activism with the goal of abolition in mind (the reasoning being that we can gradually get to a ethical solution with progressively more humane procedures).

Obviously I have a bias towards animal Rights and abolition so don't just take my word for it. As for what would be easier to right about it depends on what you've already read and which makes the most sense to you. I would prefer a rights discussion because it's a more rigorous, hard ethics, legal approach that lends itself to historical precedent and logic based arguments.
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#4 Old 09-12-2011, 05:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drotar View Post

I feel like I know a lot about the subject of animals, but I don't really know where the line is between "Welfare" and "Rights." It seems to be kind of blurry. Can someone briefly explain it for me and also tell me what they feel would be an easier essay to write?

Your confusion is warranted.

Let's consider human rights, for example to start. There are people who consider criminalizing abortion to be a right for unborn babies and then there are people who consider legalized abortion to be a right for pregnant women.

Another example is marriage. Some people think of gay marriage as a right whereas others believe it is simply a privilege. Some people don't even think gays ought to be allowed to have a legal marriage at all.

Or consider torture. Many people think humans have a right to be free from torture. But when presented as an option to obtain information that may prevent terrorism, many people change their opinion on torture and belive that some human rights don't belong to some humans.

So, when we look at human rights we can see how complicated and confusing it can be. Well it's the same for animal rights!

Lots of people call themselves animal rights advocates/activists or animal welfare advocates, yet the specific legal or societal changes that they promote vary widely as well as the strategies they use to promote those ideas. There's a lot of crossover too because people may have different reasons for promoting the same concepts.

It IS blurry and you're correct to feel that way.

Instead of writing about "animal rights" or "animal welfare" why not write about one animal issue, like puppymills, battery cages, or dogfighting? Because think about it - if you had to write a paper about human rights where would you even start? The topic is too broad for one simple paper. You'd have to narrow it down a bit.
It's the same for animal rights.
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#5 Old 09-12-2011, 06:35 PM
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It's not confusing and there is no blur. It is very simple. A welfarist supports, agrees with, condones, participates in, and even enjoys objectifying, commodifying, and using others. A rights advocate does not. This applies across the board to the rights of all persons, human or non-human.

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#6 Old 09-14-2011, 04:35 PM
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^^^Have to basically agree with what SomebodyElse said.

"Animal Welfare" might once have had promise as a valid way to protect animals, but as I usually see the term used, it appears to be an attempt to reform or mollify exploitation of animals without actually questioning whether that exploitation is necessary or fundamentally defensible. In fact, some of us are concerned that "animal welfare" measures make people feel better about continuing to exploit animals and in that sense do more harm than good, although I'm undecided about this.

(I like your avatar. Jack was one of my favorite "Lost" characters, although I didn't follow the show that closely.)

Peasant (1963-1972) and Fluffy (1970s?-1982- I think of you as 'Ambrose' now)- Your spirits outshone some humans I have known. Be happy forever.
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#7 Old 09-14-2011, 04:42 PM
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I think animal welfare as a debate topic is less of a hot button for a mixed audience than a purely abolitionist stance. The majority of people can get behind the idea that you shouldn't treat other sentient beings with undue cruelty, but only a minority (re: us) can get behind the idea that anything short of leaving non-human animals to do their own thing is a breach of their right to an autonomous existence.

I agree with Elaine V., narrow it down to a specific case or area and that might help you build a more broad essay later as you explore the issue in relation to one event or aspect?

I always wonder about people who say they "love" animals, but continue to eat meat. If that's your idea of love, I question what sort of twisted world view you must have.

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#8 Old 09-19-2011, 08:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SomebodyElse View Post

It's not confusing and there is no blur. It is very simple. A welfarist supports, agrees with, condones, participates in, and even enjoys objectifying, commodifying, and using others. A rights advocate does not. This applies across the board to the rights of all persons, human or non-human.

Suuuure.
So where do you stand on spay/neuter laws?
And how do you feel about microchips?
Would you resist utilizing a legal argument that named nonhuman animal companions as property if it meant that their abusers spent more time in prison?
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#9 Old 09-20-2011, 10:30 AM
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I would go with welfare, it will be much easier to defend.
rights are something (like it or not) that are granted by the governments. This is why certain "rights" in one country that are taken for granted, are not available to some in other countries.

The question will come up to justify rights for an animal, where it might be easy to do and get support on here, you may not find that same level of acceptance while presenting your argument in front of a group of meat eaters.

Animal welfare would be easier to write about, and you can actually sneak things that you consider "rights" into the welfare discussion.
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