Calling animal rights fundamentalists “purists” actually gives them more credit than they deserve. It implies that they occupy the moral high ground and that they more than anyone else accord with principles of moral rightness or justice. However, this seems to me to be untrue. As shown in “Animal Rights Law,” fundamentalists are very much at variance with trying to secure the best possible for sentient beings at all times, including the legislative near-term (in which, as all agree, practically available options are highly unideal). And their conception of animal rights for the long-term is in no sense more “pure.” Therefore it seems like a mischaracterization to portray animal rights fundamentalists are “the pure ones” and animal rights pragmatists as somehow “impure.” “Pure what…?” is perhaps the salient question. It is also well to recall that Francione's proto-rights are far from pure animal rights, securing, say, only one interest while several are neglected, or accepting the banning of dehorning but not hot-iron branding. Joan Dunayer's philosophy would have a better claim to "purism" than Francione's, since she demands animal rights laws bar nothing. However, again, it would be a mistake to suggest that her disastrous recipe for the legislative short-term is somehow more purely ideal. The purest ideal I know, unsurprisingly, is what is best, and that is precisely what the pragmatists aim for at all times. However, animal rights pragmatism is not "the pure one" either since the best we can achieve is hardly synonymous with pure perfection. Purism seems allied with perfectionism, and that seems to be an irrational prescription for a world which must always be described as radically imperfect, and in which the nature of perfection itself remains safely obscure behind an impenetrable veil of mystery.
FURTHER READING ON ANIMAL RIGHTS INCREMENTALISM
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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".
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