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This thread is mis-titled. It is not rights vs welfare. It's about what are effective paths towards rights? Might some paths include welfare reforms?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
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Originally Posted by ElaineV View Post

This thread is mis-titled. It is not rights vs welfare. It's about what are effective paths towards rights? Might some paths include welfare reforms?
That's true, I could have worded that better. It's an all or nothing view versus one that includes incremental change, that isn't a very snappy title though


EDIT: Abolition VS Incremental change! I like that better. Any nice mods want to change my title for me?
 

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I would say that the term "animal welfare" has been co-opted and flat-out corrupted by animal-use advocates. It might have had some value if this hadn't happened, although I admit that "rights" strikes me as a purer, more absolute, non-negotiable concept.
 

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I'm not really interested in either term. I'm interested in how simple actions humans make every day can make the world tangibly better or worse for other living animals, and more importantly how I can effectively educate others on this subject to make more compassionate choices as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
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Originally Posted by Josh James xVx View Post

I'm not really interested in either term. I'm interested in how simple actions humans make every day can make the world tangibly better or worse for other living animals, and more importantly how I can effectively educate others on this subject to make more compassionate choices as well.
Exactly what I was trying to start a discussion about. Is pushing for incremental change an effective way to improve living conditions for animals and educate people about animal rights or does it actually hinder the process and make people feel more comfortable continuing to kill and eat animals since they can argue they aren't being treated badly?

The HuffPo piece I linked to has some convincing sounding arguments from both sides, both in the article and in the comments, and the more I read the less sure I feel about where I stand.
 

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While my main goal would be abolition, i think the way there is too long that in the meantime it is a good idea to at least improve the welfare. i do like what this man says
 

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Abolition isn't going to happen in the lifetime of anyone on this board. Trillions of animals will be killed during that time. The least we can do is to make their lives and deaths a little less miserable.

Actually, I think it's a natural progression to go from completely barbaric to less cruel before abolition takes place. Just look at the death penalty in most places - first there was an acknowledgement that it's not copacetic to torture people to death, and it was only after that idea became widely accepted, and quicker, *cleaner* methods of execution became the norm, that people started questioning the very existence of execution.
 

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Originally Posted by Werewolf Girl View Post

Exactly what I was trying to start a discussion about. Is pushing for incremental change an effective way to improve living conditions for animals and educate people about animal rights or does it actually hinder the process and make people feel more comfortable continuing to kill and eat animals since they can argue they aren't being treated badly?

The HuffPo piece I linked to has some convincing sounding arguments from both sides, both in the article and in the comments, and the more I read the less sure I feel about where I stand.
Read "Change of Heart" by Nick Cooney. It's received rave reviews from activists of many stripes. It's about how to apply over eighty years of human psychology to activism.

When he speaks specifically about vegetarianism and AR in the book, he always suggests trying to promote incremental changes, because extensive psychological studying and the results from marketing firms and non profits show the effectiveness of the "foot-in-the-door" method of asking for something. Which is to say if you wanted someone to donate $50 to your charity you'd ask for five dollars first, or even a single penny. You'd then see if they went for that and progressively suggest higher amounts in a way that makes people believe they're making their own decision.

One example of how the group I volunteer for (mostly donate to but sometimes hand out booklets)applies this (Vegan Outreach) is that the two booklets we're currently promoting don't specifically push veganism or even vegetarianism. Both "Compassionate Choices" and "Even If You Like Meat" simply suggest people can prevent cruelty by reducing their consumption of factory farmed animals, especially chickens. Such a small, reasonable request usually gets results. We know this because many of us return to places we've previously leafleted and met no vegetarians, and meet as many as a dozen on subsequent trips. Once we meet someone who says they're either vegetarian, vegan or have reduced consumption we offer a "guide to cruelty free eating" to encourage them to either take the next step or remain dedicated to the decision they made. And it IS their decision. We simply present the information and let them decide.

That's the most important thing from a psychological perspective. A person has to believe it was his or her own choice. That's why a book, a pamphlet or a video usually helps convert people better than personal conversations. Cooney writes about this, too. When the other person promoting the new belief is actually present, it puts people on the defensive of their previously held beliefs, but they have no shame being converted by an inanimate object like a booklet or video. They feel they made the decision on their own .

I strongly recommend that book for people interested in increasing their effectiveness as activists, or as a primer for anyone interested in being active for animals although if you haven't done anything yet I'd recommend "The Animal Activist's Handbook" by Bruce Friedrich and Matt Ball as a primer.
 

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Originally Posted by Josh James xVx View Post

Read "Change of Heart"...[SNIP]
This is very well put, sorry to snip it all out, but didn't want to cause unnecessary scrolling. As I've just been asked to help with a 'meat free' initiative at my university, this is probably the tack I'll be forced to take anyhow, so it's good to see some grounding for it. I can't expect the sports guys to even pay attention if I wave a veganism leaflet in their face, but I think reducing meat consumption might be a good angle to approach them from, and leave vegan leaflets on the table for people to pick up.
This initiative was started by the fact that Mac and Cheese (the only 'veggie option') is the best selling thing in our union... I might have to agitate for at least one meal other than plain french fries which are vegan friendly :/
 

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Slow incremental change from generation to generation is the way society has always evolved when it comes to important issues within the culture. I can't think of a single issue that has changed very rapidly. Just as an example, women's rights and gay rights all took many years to come into effect and even now, many people within those groups are still fighting for equality to some degree, so I don't know why people would think animal rights would be any different.

I have an underlying theoretical support for abolition, but practically, I know that incremental change is the way it will happen. I know that things are changing , I can see it happening now, but I fully expect to be dead and gone before most people in our society cease eating animals and have reached a stage of enlightenment where they know it is wrong to treat animals as a commodity.
 

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Originally Posted by Nishani View Post

Slow incremental change from generation to generation is the way society has always evolved when it comes to important issues within the culture. I can't think of a single issue that has changed very rapidly. Just as an example, women's rights and gay rights all took many years to come into effect and even now, many people within those groups are still fighting for equality to some degree, so I don't know why people would think animal rights would be any different.

I have an underlying theoretical support for abolition, but practically, I know that incremental change is the way it will happen. I know that things are changing , I can see it happening now, but I fully expect to be dead and gone before most people in our society cease eating animals and have reached a stage of enlightenment where they know it is wrong to treat animals as a commodity.
I mostly agree although I'm more optimistic. I think that there will be some major shifts within my lifetime.

For example, I think that in the future, eating mammals will be regarded similarly as eating veal cows is today. The environmental damage alone is enough to turn the tide, but the fact that it's so easy for humans to see cows and pigs similarly to how they see cats and dogs will allow their compassion to grow. The demand for higher "humane" standards and the future government restrictions on waste will force mammalian meat to become much more pricy than it is today and it will go back to being a luxury item that only an elite few can afford to eat. With the rising compasionate consciousness, cow and pig eating will be viewed more as a disgusting wasteful indulgence than a desirable symbol of status and prosperity.

However, there may be a temporary increase in the consumption of birds and rabbits. Hopefully, that can be curbed or cut off through the manufacturing of quality faux meats and lab grown flesh. The way technology develops, I have no doubt that we will see large scale lab meat at a reasonable price within our lifetimes.

I tend to see legal reform more as a symbolic marker of a society's consciousness rather than as a good in and of itself, which is why I don't have much problem with welfare reforms. I see them as giant education campaigns that inspire ethical development. So I'm not threatened by them. That said, I prefer to spend my own time and money doing more straight-forward vegan education.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Wow, so many great posts, thanks guys! I'm convinced pushing for incremental change is more effective, I just have to get over my squeamishness about the issue... I want to make as much of a positive impact as I can and realistically if we can't stop people from eating meat for now at least we can convince them not to pack animals into crates or debeak them or abuse them in other ways. But it's hard convincing people to kill animals in a more humane way when you know it's not necessary to kill them at all.

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Originally Posted by ElaineV View Post

I tend to see legal reform more as a symbolic marker of a society's consciousness rather than as a good in and of itself, which is why I don't have much problem with welfare reforms. I see them as giant education campaigns that inspire ethical development. So I'm not threatened by them. That said, I prefer to spend my own time and money doing more straight-forward vegan education.
Agreed, I'd prefer to make that my focus as well, I feel a lot more comfortable encouraging my friends and family and the world in general to eat more vegan food.

But here's a question: My parents are pretty hardcore meat eaters and while my mom has shown some interest in eating less animal products (for weight loss) I really doubt they'd ever give up meat, milk and eggs completely. It's a cultural thing and they are kind of set in their ways, my step-dad grew up on a farm in Croatia and slaughtered pigs himself so they aren't overly bothered by killing or using animals. Here in BC we have SPCA Certified products, would I be doing a good thing encouraging them to buy those? It feels a little like saying "Instead of hitting your kid with a hammer just slap him" but I don't know, it is still something?


P.S. A big thank you to whoever changed the title!
 

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I think framing this issue in terms of abolition vs. incremental change is misleading. The approach favored by abolitionists is incremental too: namely, incrementally increasing the number of people who are vegan, thereby reducing the consumption of animal products, step by step, and lessening the exploitation of animals in society. This approach doesn't seem to be radical or idealistic even to the big animal advocacy groups -- or to Friedrich in particular, I'm sure -- since the big animal organizations engage in vegan advocacy too. Rather, the difference is that groups like PETA and HSUS engage both in vegan/AR advocacy and in welfare reforms, whereas abolitionists support only the vegan/AR advocacy part.

So, this means that the debate is not between two entirely different approaches to animal advocacy, but between having a narrower focus or a wider focus, when it comes to what strategies to pursue, what campaigns to use resources on. And that's where a crucial argument by Francione was left unaddressed by Friedrich's piece: namely, Francione emphasizes that resource use is a zero sum game and so time, money and energy spent on convincing KFC to kill chickens in a slightly less inhumane way is time, money and energy away from e.g. running a Go Vegan! campaign on TV. I think relevant for considering this resource use argument is that the animal welfare reforms tend to be implemented very slowly, with a long transition time. (However, I acknowledge that they can have other benefits, as mentioned in the other thread, about how people become more sensitive to animal welfare issues as a result.) Whereas if you just directly appeal to consumers with a pro-vegan message, the results are far more immediate. Vegan advocacy is also incremental change on the cultural level, as it is bringing the ideas of AR and veganism to the streets, to people's everyday life, and raising consciousness about animals as inherently valuable sentient beings. Additionally, I think if we saw a significant increase in veganism (or at least vegan choices), and an increase in people familiar with AR/vegan arguments, that would also necessarily result in some welfare changes too. To me, the consideration about resource use is the most persuasive of Francione's arguments.

Friedrich also didn't address Francione's argument that many of the welfare reforms implemented (or suggested) are presented (by the animal organizations themselves) as being economically beneficial to the animal exploitation industries. Now, one way to look at that is simply to say that welfare reforms are a win-win: they're an economic win for the exploiters, but they're also a win for the animals who lead slighly less horrible lives. However, when something is an economic win for an industry built around exploiting animals, is that a good thing? Can't they then use the slightly bigger profits to expand production or something like that? And is pointing out economic benefits to the animal abuse industries a proper role for organizations representing non-human interests?

Neither did Friedrich address the issue of the PR benefits that the animal exploitation industries derive from implementing reforms, sometimes even getting a kind of seal of approval from an animal organization (like I think happened with KFC and PETA). That is, after all, the reason why the industries agree to the reforms: they want to improve their reputation in the consumers' eyes, in order to maintain their current profits or to increase them. Is this a good thing for animals? When issues of welfare reform are in the news, they may indeed make people more aware of ethical problems with animal use. But they may also reinforce this kind of complacency of "I'm glad that [this company] is constantly improving the lives of animals".

Friedrich mentioned that countries with better animal welfare laws have more vegans. But I see that as more a matter of a common cause (increase in ethical concern for animals) reflected in two effects (welfare laws and vegans), rather than animal welfare laws being the cause and more vegans the effect. Now, how to increase that ethical concern for animals in society? I think any objection to the treatment of animals, and any sharing of information about what happens to animals, and any bringing of veganism and AR closer to the mainstream and in the news, will help.

Friedrich is correct that if one was an animal, one would want even slightly less inhumane conditions. The animals who are "destined" to be slaughtered are not hopeless cases who we can forget by focusing only on future populations: those animals, right now, still have needs and interests, even if those needs and interests will in any case be horribly violated. I think Francione tends to underestimate the significance of even those small changes, by his "violin concert at a concentration camp" comparisons. However, lessening the number of animals bred into that Hell on Earth is also very important, and likewise prevents suffering (and killing), and this is what the abolitionists favor.

From what I can see, the two biggest misrepresentations in the debate are:
-The "reformists" present the abolitionists as people who are all-or-nothing (which I don't think makes sense: how is reaching out to people through vegan advocacy -- thereby supporting a strategy already employed by countless animal organizations -- an "all-or-nothing" approach?)
-The abolitionists present the "reformists" as having some kind of a fundamental moral disagreement about what treatment animals are morally owed. I think that's disingenuous: while some reformists are philosophically traditional animal welfarists (i.e. hold that it's okay to exploit animals for human needs, but only if it's done in accordance with some arbitrary standard of "humane" treatment), certainly very many of the reformists agree with the abolitionists that animal exploitation is wrong. So it's a disagreement over strategy, and over sociological facts, and over politics -- not a fundamental philosophical disagreement about morality, as Francione would have you believe.
 

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Originally Posted by Sevenseas View Post

I think framing this issue in terms of abolition vs. incremental change is misleading...
...So it's a disagreement over strategy, and over sociological facts, and over politics -- not a fundamental philosophical disagreement about morality, as Francione would have you believe.
a big + 1 and everything in between!

Also, I would like to add that although I agree with a lot of what Francione says, (and I might get flamed for this), I think he has done AR a big disservice. He has silenced many activist with his anti single-issue campaign views. Even though, at a theoretical level I do agree with the concept of his anti single-issue campaign views, at a practical level I can't.....sorta how at a theoretical level both capitalism and marxism make sense.
 

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Yeah I don't find his anti-single-issue-campaign views very plausible. Or, rather, I find them plausible for some very specific campaigns that only protest a very specific type of cruelty, but not when the targeted industry or animal product is larger in scope or cultural significance, such as circuses, or fur, or whatever. Even Francione had to begrudgingly admit recently that he just-might-possibly support some campaigns against the use of horses for carriage rides in New York.
 

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Originally Posted by Sevenseas View Post

Yeah I don't find his anti-single-issue-campaign views very plausible. Or, rather, I find them plausible for some very specific campaigns that only protest a very specific type of cruelty, but not when the targeted industry or animal product is larger in scope or cultural significance, such as circuses, or fur, or whatever. Even Francione had to begrudgingly admit recently that he just-might-possibly support some campaigns against the use of horses for carriage rides in New York.
*excited* really? Do you possibly have a link for that? a simple google search was ineffective.
We've been trying to ban horse carriages here in Victoria and there's been quite a kerfuffle amongst the AR groups, specifically due to Francione's anti single issue campaign views. Really tragic!
 

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Originally Posted by Cedre View Post

*excited* really? Do you possibly have a link for that? a simple google search was ineffective.
We've been trying to ban horse carriages here in Victoria and there's been quite a kerfuffle amongst the AR groups, specifically due to Francione's anti single issue campaign views. Really tragic!
Yes, it's in this podcast, where he is interviewing a woman from a vegan advocacy group who also does anti-carriage campaigning. I would say it's closer to the end of the podcast than the beginning, but you'll have to listen to the file for yourself if you're interested:
http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/...edge-campaign/
 

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Originally Posted by Sevenseas View Post

Yes, it's in this podcast, where he is interviewing a woman from a vegan advocacy group who also does anti-carriage campaigning. I would say it's closer to the end of the podcast than the beginning, but you'll have to listen to the file for yourself if you're interested:
http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/...edge-campaign/
cheers, thanks! Big help!!
 
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