Friday, March 11, 2011


If all that was needed to convince people to stop eating animals was to expose them to the horrors of factory farms and slaughterhouses, every person who has ever seen a video on the meat industry would be a vegan. The dominant view of our culture is that humans are entitled to use nonhuman animals in service to our needs. The growing popularity of “humane meat” speaks to our movement’s success in exposing the horrors of the factory farm – and our utter failure to challenge the underlying idea that animals are ours to use for food. If we want to truly abolish the meat industry rather than simply generating business for “happy meat” mongers, we need to attack animal oppression at its foundation by challenging the premise that human interests take precedence over those of nonhuman animals and that animals exist for our use.

We need to challenge speciesism.

Animal liberation philosophy is a tool we can use to transform our culture’s views on our moral duties towards nonhuman animals. When people are forced to acknowledge that there is no ethical basis to weigh the interests of humans over those of other sentient beings, they can no longer rationalize treating animals as objects for our use. Once we’ve challenged speciesism we can follow by exposing the facts of animal abuse. The devastating one-two punch of revealing the moral illogic of speciesism followed by a presentation of the facts of animal use is precisely what made books like Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation and Richard Ryder's Victims of Science so devastatingly effective.

The Animal Ethics Reading and Discussion Group believes that our failure to follow this formula is the reason that many people still chuckle at the idea of animal liberation and other social change movements view our movement as a joke. We believe it’s time to take for animal activists to start taking the philosophical basis of our movement seriously – so we can work to create a culture that that takes our moral duties towards nonhuman animals seriously. In order to do this we need to first understand and learn how to articulate and defend the philosophical arguments for animal liberation and how to effectively communicate them in ways that are comprehensible to people who lack training in academic philosophy.

1 comment:

  1. I got to bring up Peter Singer's principle, Equal Consideration of Interest, while discussing rational, emotional and ethical appeals in writing class today.

    Rationalization for exploiting animals, what I've experienced frequently, is emotional. Specifically sense-gratification (compulsion)or self-centered centered fear (obsession) are described.

    Rational appeal is dry science, whereas Ethical appeal addresses our sense of conscience or compassion (some emotion) while backed up by science. The merger of science and emotion forms strong a strong argument. Emotional arguments are the weakest. Rational argument is missing the "so what?" factor.

    Getting someone to understand why they should care, specifically what and how probable is a reward be bestowed for their care. Selfishness appeals are effectively coupled with selflessness appeals. If that side isn't considered the "holier than thou" attitude is potentially used in ad hominem attacks.