“”We shouldn't harm animals when we don't have to.
|—One of the most controversial philosophies of all time.|
AKA RationalWiki's resident PETA person
If you are interested in actually engaging on the issue of animal rights, I recommend checking out three things:
- The Earthlings documentary
- Peter Singer's Animal Liberation (first chapter free here)
- The Animal Rights FAQ
I attempt to discuss controversial topics within AR theory with my essays on this site:
- Essay:Against Animal Testing
- Essay:The Case Against Zoos
- Essay:How To Win a Debate with a Vegan
- Essay:Why Pet Ownership Should Be Abolished
- Essay:Speciesism Explained
- Essay:In Defence of PETA (forthcoming)
- Essay:Supporting the Argument from Marginal Cases (forthcoming)
- Essay:Animal Equality (forthcoming)
This is a list of specific articles on this website of relevance. Note that these are NOT ideal in their current form. Look for me on the talk pages where I bring up their various issues (and am largely ignored).
- Animal rights
- Animal testing
- Argument from marginal cases
- Animal Liberation Front
- Animal Rights Militia
Animal Rights vs. Animal Welfare
"I support animal rights, but I think using animals for [PURPOSE X] is OK"
I wish I got paid every time I heard that. However well intentioned, this represents an unfortunately far too common misunderstanding. The fundamental principle of the AR movement is that nonhuman animals deserve to live according to their own natures, free from harm, abuse, and exploitation. This goes further than just saying that we should treat animals well while we exploit them, or before we kill and eat them. It says animals have the RIGHT to be free from human cruelty and exploitation, just as humans possess this right. The withholding of this right from the nonhuman animals based on their species membership is referred to as "speciesism". I think most people who claim to be supporters of animal rights actually are supporters of animal welfare.
Animal Welfare = animals should not be abused while we use them
Animal Rights = animals should not be used at all
Naturally, animal welfare means vastly different things to different people, so my view is that the only way to ensure that animals are not abused by humans is to make sure humans never have the chance to (outside of the unavoidable issue of people being cruel to wildlife). I think Gary L. Francione: makes an interesting observation
In the past year, the American Meat Industry has adopted the rhetoric of animal welfare. The vivisectors have explicitly endorsed animal welfare and have just as explicitly rejected animal rights for about six years now. When the biggest exploiters of animals recognize that there are important differences between animal rights and animal welfare, that tells us something. When they explicitly embrace the principles of animal welfare, that, too, tells us something. And there should be no misunderstanding the meaning of that message: animal welfare does not work.
Sounds extreme - doesn't it? Consult Animal Rights FAQ which does a pretty thorough job of addressing every possible complaint you may have.
"Yeah, I'm Not Going Vegan"
Something that often comes up with people who consumes animal products is an exasperated "Yeah you make some decent points, maybe you're right, animals don't deserve this, but I'm just not going to change my diet I'm sorry". and "Is there anything else I can do instead so I can enjoy my McDonald's chicken burger, ice-cream and pizzas?"
Yeah sure. If you really won't change your diet, then instead do all three of these:
- 1. Don't make any babies. Human overpopulation is the biggest cause of human's negative effects on animals. A life-long meat-eater who has no children causes FAR less harm to animals than a vegan who reproduces. This is the single best thing you can do for nonhuman animal life - even more so than being a lifelong vegan.
- 2. Donate regularly to help farm animals - If you are going to eat animals, at least give some aid to charity groups that are trying to make the lives (and deaths) of livestock better. The best way to donate is to one or more of the following:
- 3. Be a non-dietary vegan. Being vegan is a lifestyle, not just a diet. PETA sums this up in their infamous slogan: "Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment or abuse in any other way". If you really won't change your diet, you can still abstain from animal exploitation in all the other ways, like:
- "wear" = Avoiding animal textiles - no leather, wool, fur, silk, down etc.
- "experiment on" = Not buying from companies or donating to charities that either conduct or fund animal testing.
- "use for entertainment" = Not supporting zoos, circuses, horse racing, dog racing, rodeos, bullfighting, donkey basketball etc.
- "abuse in any other way" = Not buying animals from pet shops or breeders (adopt from shelters instead), checking your cosmetics and household products contain neither animal ingredients nor palm oil, use nonlethal control when dealing with rodents or bugs, stop referring to animals as "it" etc.
If you do all three of these things, you'd be well placed to argue your "moral imperative" to consume a vegan diet is revoked. You would have enough ammunition to fire back at a vegan who accused you of being immoral.