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Abolitionist Presentation


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This presentation gives an overview of abolitionist animal rights and was presented at the first workshop of the Get Active series. Presented on 5 Feb 2009.

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Abolitionist Presentation

  1. 1. Abolitionist Theory of Animal Rights Get Active for Animals Workshop 8 February 2009
  2. 2. The Basics <ul><li>What it advocates: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Abolition of animal use </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Veganism </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What it opposes: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Welfare measures that do not lead to a core change in animal use (e.g. cage-free eggs, controlled atmosphere killing)‏ </li></ul></ul><ul><li>“ When it comes down to it, reforming industrialized animal agriculture in any meaningful way is truly impossible.” -Bob Torres, Making a Killing </li></ul><ul><li>Separates our treatment of animals from their use . </li></ul>
  3. 3. The concept of rights for animals is simple. The most basic right of a sentient being, whether they are human or any other animal, is the right to not be someone else's property.
  4. 4. Foundations of the Theory <ul><li>Humane Treatment Principle </li></ul><ul><li>“ Animals have rights.” But what are rights? </li></ul><ul><li>Rights: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Rights protect interests. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Human and non-human animals have interests. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>You do not have to understand the concept of rights to have them. </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Foundations (continued)‏ <ul><li>Human and non-human animals have an interest in avoiding pain, suffering, and death. </li></ul><ul><li>Using animals as resources causes pain, suffering and death. </li></ul><ul><li>All sentient beings have an interest, and the right, not to be treated as property. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Sentience <ul><li>Sentience is: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>a) the ability to experience or be conscious of sensations (e.g. pain)‏ </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>b) non-cognitive experience of a self. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Non-humans are sentient. </li></ul><ul><li>Sentience is the only characteristic that matters when discussing our relationship with animals. </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Other characteristics that separate us from animals are morally irrelevant when talking about non-human rights to physical security. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>“ The question is not can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>- Jeremy Bentham </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Interests <ul><li>Interests: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Non-humans have morally significant interests. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>We must give their interests equal consideration . </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>This does not mean they have the same interests. </li></ul></ul></ul>“ We claim to require a balancing of human interests and animal interests, but in fact no true balancing occurs... The interests of property will almost never be judged as similar to the interests of property owners. ” - Gary Francione, Introduction to Animal Rights
  8. 8. Necessity <ul><li>Necessity: </li></ul><ul><li>It is wrong to inflict unnecessary suffering on non-humans. </li></ul><ul><li>Our use of animals (e.g. for hunting, food, vivisection, clothing) is unneccesary. </li></ul>“ The law however, deems “pain and suffering inflicted on animals is necessary 'whenever the purpose for which the act is done is to make the animal more serviceable to man'.” - Gary Francione , Introduction to Animal Rights
  9. 9. Property and Speciesism <ul><li>Animals have an interest in not being treated as things (property)‏. </li></ul><ul><li>“ In sum, the basic right not to be treated as a thing...define the bare minimum needed for membership in the moral community.” </li></ul><ul><li>-Gary Francione, Introduction to Animal Rights </li></ul><ul><li>Importance of property rights </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The law recognises two types of entities: persons and things. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Non-human animals are treated as property: they slaves to humans. </li></ul><ul><li>This property status is at the root of the problem. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Property and Speciesism <ul><li>The Abolitionist Theory of Animal Rights argues for the abolition of animal use. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Similarities to 18th/19 th century movement </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Category in between “persons” and “things” and slave welfare laws were useless in affecting change </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Uniqueness of human animals </li></ul><ul><li>does not justify slavery. All </li></ul><ul><li>species are unique. </li></ul><ul><li>Speciesism is no different </li></ul><ul><li>than racism, sexism, or </li></ul><ul><li>homophobia. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Abolitionism vs. Welfarism <ul><li>What is the Animal Welfare approach? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Focusses on the regulation of animal exploitation (i.e. treating animals more “humanely”)‏ </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What's the problem with it? </li></ul><ul><li>“ When property rights meet animal welfare laws, it's like a speeding freight train meeting a light warm breeze; the effect is negligible.” - Dan Cudahy, Property Status and Animal Welfare </li></ul>
  12. 12. Abolitionism vs. Welfarism (cont.)‏ <ul><li>Welfare laws do very little to protect animal interests. </li></ul><ul><li>They do not change property status, and they reinforce exploitation. </li></ul><ul><li>Encourages continued animal use by making people feel better about consuming animals. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Abolitionism vs. Welfarism (cont.)‏ <ul><li>Increases the efficiency of animal exploitation and reinforces the status of non-humans as property. </li></ul><ul><li>Unclear means+Ends = Zero-sum game. </li></ul><ul><li>Takes time away from vegan/abolition education. </li></ul><ul><li>“ To put the matter simply, if I can enslave and kill you at will, then any other right you may have will not be of much use to you.” Gary Francione, Introduction to Animal Rights </li></ul>
  14. 14. Abolitionism vs. Welfarism (cont.)‏ <ul><li>Welfarism: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Regulates animal exploitation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Veganism is not necessary. Some believe we can be “conscientious omnivores”. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Abolitionism: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Seeks to end animal exploitation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Veganism is the foundation. It is the one action you can take right now to abolish animal exploitation. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>“ As long as it is the case that nonhumans are owned as things...welfare laws are and always will be impotent to prevent cruelty.” - Dan Cudahy, Property Status and Animal Welfare </li></ul>
  15. 15. <ul><li>“ ...we cannot merely give up because the goal is too big and too ambitious. The truth of the matter is that if we want to change the world, we have to do it in our lives and in our activism. If we want to live in a world that is not burdened by hierarchy and domination, we have to begin to create that world today, in the present, or we will forever be stuck in the same dynamics of oppression that make up the world as we know it.” </li></ul><ul><li>- Bob Torres, Making a Killing </li></ul>
  16. 16. Additional Information <ul><li>Gary Francione's website: </li></ul><ul><li>www. abolitionistapproach .com </li></ul><ul><li>Unpopular Vegan Essays (Dan Cudahy): http: //unpopularveganessays . blogspot .com </li></ul><ul><li>Boston Vegan Association Pamphlet: http: //bostonvegan . org/images/downloads/pamphlet_generic_web . pdf </li></ul><ul><li>Animal Emancipation: </li></ul><ul><li>www. animalemancipation .com </li></ul><ul><li>Abolitionist Online: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Vegan Freak Blog and Podcast: http://www. veganfreaks .org/ </li></ul><ul><li>Additional links available on ARA website </li></ul>