Some will wonder if I have given up the ghost when it comes to discussing both sides of the animal rights fundamentalism versus pragmatism debate. The answer is: no. I have taken a breather of several weeks, but the truth I am confronted with is that the issues continue to be of importance, and it falls to me to address them since there is a dearth of other people doing the same work (see my Nov. 26 entry on one of the very few academic exceptions to this rule, Steve Wise's book review of Rain without Thunder). It is also worth keeping in mind that this debate is about billions upon billions of nonhuman animals, and the real and possible laws which directly affect them, more than it is about human animals, although in general terms, each human also has a dignity as well as duties.
Now my essay, “Animal Rights Law: Fundamentalism versus Pragmatism,” Journal for Critical Animal Studies 5 (1) (2007): 1-37 cannot be revised because it is published in a journal. By contrast, the MIRROR PRODUCTIONS version of “Animal Rights Law,” a popular audience version, can be revised since it is published on this site. I am pleased to report that I have revised and re-edited the MIRROR PRODUCTIONS presentation, and it contains new insights that are not given in the academic article. That is because, well, I did not have them at the time, but blogging has, as one might hope, stimulated new thoughts. However, time is a precious, non-renewable resource, so here is a list of the additional ideas for those who wish to expand their insight with a minimum of fuss:
- p. 3, first full paragraph, last two sentences. Regarding the objection that “welfarist” laws are like asking that child abusers soften the blow rather than calling for an end to such abuse. Of course pragmatists also call for an end to such abuse a.s.a.p. and there are other familiar points given, but what is added is the realization that Francione’s own approach is more like softening the blow than abolishing child abuse completely, to use the often-made comparison. To see how this is plainly the case, see passage.
- p. 4, first full paragraph. Discussion of “cruel culture” and “kind culture” is amended to say “crueler” and “kinder” culture since we are not talking about absolutes. China has a “crueler culture” regarding animals, not a “cruel culture” in all respects.
- p. 4, second full paragraph. I have added a supplement to my argument for the long-term effectiveness of the pragmatist approach: a list of absurd statements one would have to believe, in part or whole, to dispute my model. I wouldn’t want to be someone disagreeing with these statements as the reader will perceive!
- p. 5, under list of Francione’s “futility factors,” as it were, I consider the objection that only minor counterexamples can be given for the effectiveness of animal “welfare” legislation. An entire Western nation is no minor counterexample.
- p. 7, second full paragraph. The point is made that we cannot meaningfully speak of sacrificing something unless we already have it or at least have access to it.
- p. 7, second full paragraph. I point out that if animal “welfarist” laws sacrifice animal interests, then so do Francione’s own proto-rights measures for reasons given.
- p. 10, first partial paragraph. A commentary on Francione’s title of his website: “Animal Rights: the Abolitionist Approach,” [emphasis added].
- p. 10, first partial paragraph. An indication of the incoherence of the “new” part of Francione’s “new welfarism” concept.
- p. 10, reply to objection 5. In response to the objection that we should never ask people to stop short of the ideal, I simply point out that Francione’s proto-rights proposals also do this.
A fundamentally flawed position will continue to manifest more and more problems, by implication, the more closely it is both elaborated and scrutinized.
Have a lovely day!
FURTHER READING ON ANIMAL RIGHTS INCREMENTALISM
A Selection of Related Articles
Sztybel, David. "Animal Rights Law: Fundamentalism versus Pragmatism". Journal for Critical Animal Studies 5 (1) (2007): 1-37.
Short version of "Animal Rights Law".
Sztybel, David. "Incrementalist Animal Law: Welcome to the Real World".
Sztybel, David. "Sztybelian Pragmatism versus Francionist Pseudo-Pragmatism".
A Selection of Related Blog Entries