Thursday, June 26, 2008

The "Test Period"

Francione often states that animal “welfarism” has been tried for hundreds of years, but it has failed to abolish animal exploitation. However, it is erroneous to say animal “welfarism"—as part of an animal rights pragmatist position—has been tried for that long. Yet that could be the only relevant "test period" for the debate in question here. We will see that it is unfair to declare the testing to be over even for this newer pragmatist movement. As for traditional animal "welfarism," it was never even meant to abolish animal exploitation in the first place. Francione's reasoning here is startling in its flashy irrelevancy.

What are we "testing" for? Francione seems to be testing for whether animal rights pragmatism, which he calls "new welfarism," will cause the abolition of the property status of animals. I have already commented on how the matter is not so simple, and the real question is not whether animal "welfare" laws simply cause abolition. They don't. Just putting out animal welfare laws does not magically bring about abolition, but then, no one but Francione ever seriously entertained the possibility of such magic happening. Rather: are "welfarist" laws conducive towards animal rights in the long run in conjunction with animal rights championed as a long-term goal? I have argued that such conduciveness can occur with animal “welfare” laws in my essay, "Animal Rights Law." I show how such legislation inherently passes the test of what is conducive towards kindness culture, and that such culture passes the test of what conduces towards animal rights. Crueler culture does not pass that test, but that is what we are left with if we remain outsiders to the legislative process, as Francione urges, or if we futilely advocate proto-rights that Francione would approve, but any contemporary legislature would utterly defeat. Another thing we need to test for is whether animal "welfare" laws significantly reduce animal suffering or try to make the best of the short-term. Sweden and the reforms led by Martin Balluch and others in Austria pass that test already as I have argued.

As for the long-term goal of animal rights, it is unreasonable to press present-day animal rights pragmatists for not having achieved this. Serious education about animals and the ethics governing their treatment has only penetrated a relatively small minority of contemporary society. An even tinier percentage has any kind of sure grasp of the logic of animal ethics, as opposed to superficial "fast food" for thought. How could anyone reasonably expect a tiny minority to produce animal rights laws in a democracy? The answer is: no reasonable person would expect this. We are nowhere near any point in history where we can "test" whether animal rights will one day succeed due to any given approach. It is too soon to tell. It is like contemptuously looking over a sapling and pronouncing, "This will never be a tree." And indeed, the animal rights fundamentalists have their own version of the sapling. Do we arbitrarily say their test period is over too?

The real question here is success in bringing about animal rights, and fundamentalists seem disposed to fail in being as effective in that regard. Although we cannot test the empirical effectiveness of animal rights coupled with animal “welfare” laws, we are at the point where we can test movement strategies for logical soundness. We can always do that. And the futilitarian position has been found to be contrary to what is best for animals, and comparatively ineffectual in both the legislative short-term and long-term, not only in terms of reducing suffering for animals, but indeed conducing towards animal rights in the broader society (see "Animal Rights Law"). Rather than speak of the end of any test period for any part of the animal rights movement, let's create a movement much greater than what we now find which will test the integrity and political will of the broader society. For it is the speciesists, and to a greatly lesser extent, the fundamentalists, who fail to pass the test of animal-rights-conduciveness, not members of the animal rights pragmatist movement.


A Selection of Related Articles

Sztybel, David. "Animal Rights Law: Fundamentalism versus Pragmatism". Journal for Critical Animal Studies 5 (1) (2007): 1-37.

go there

Short version of "Animal Rights Law".

go there

Sztybel, David. "Incrementalist Animal Law: Welcome to the Real World".

go there

Sztybel, David. "Sztybelian Pragmatism versus Francionist Pseudo-Pragmatism".

go there

A Selection of Related Blog Entries

Anti-Cruelty Laws and Non-Violent Approximation

Use Not Treatment: Francione’s Cracked Nutshell

Francione Flees Debate with Me Again, Runs into the “Animal Jury”

The False Dilemma: Veganizing versus Legalizing

Veganism as a Baseline for Animal Rights: Two Different Senses

Francione's Three Feeble Critiques of My Views

Startling Decline in Meat Consumption Proves Francionists Are Wrong Once Again!

The Greatness of the Great Ape Project under Attack!

Francione Totally Misinterprets Singer

Francione's Animal Rights Theory

Francione on Unnecessary Suffering

My Appearance on AR Zone

D-Day for Francionists

Sztybel versus Francione on Animals' Property Status

The Red Carpet

Playing into the Hands of Animal Exploiters

The Abolitionist ApproachES

Francione's Mighty Boomerang

Dr. David Sztybel Home Page

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