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.
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".
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