A Promising New Way Forward for Animal Rights?

If the interests of animals are properly embedded in the democratic process…the laws adopted by a society are less likely to infringe their fundamental interests.

1822 is a date we lovers of justice and animals should all have tattooed on our hearts. Because 1822 was the year Richard Martin MP won for animals an important protection which was also a right: the right – for their own sake – not to be gratuitously harmed.

A 19th Century Irishman who fought more than 100 duels with sword and pistol – and obviously survived them all! – seems a most improbable man to put forward as father of the modern Animal Rights movement. But the small snowball he set in motion has just kept on rolling and rolling for the last 200 years, and growing into what we hope will soon become an avalanche.

For Martin it was who introduced a new Act to prevent the cruel and improper Treatment of Cattle, which made it an offence, punishable by fines up to five pounds or two months imprisonment, to “beat, abuse, or ill-treat any horse, mare, gelding, mule, ass, ox, cow, heifer, steer, sheep or other cattle.”

Up until ‘Martin’s Law’ was passed, it was the animal’s owner who was considered wronged by any harm done to the beast, not the poor animal itself. The animal had no greater status than a table or a chair, so harm inflicted on it was simply damage to the owner’s property. Martin’s Law changed that.

The prolific and accomplished duellist followed up his great legislative achievement by personally bringing the first prosecution under the new Act. The criminal – a fruit seller. The crime – beating a donkey. When the MP led the donkey into the courtroom to exhibit its injuries to judge and jury, he provoked a storm of publicity. Political cartoons appeared depicting him with donkey’s ears. Instead of being praised for his unusual-for-the-times passion for animal protection, he was publicly ridiculed.

Before another two years were out, this remarkable man was instrumental in founding the SPCA –  later the RSPCA – the very first animal protection organisation in the world, prompting the birth of similar groups in Scotland, Ireland, the USA, Australia and New Zealand. Only welfarism as yet, but animal advocacy began to spread around the world.

But that was 200 years ago. So where is Animal Rights today?

Well, because human society and its treatment of nonhuman animals is still, it goes without saying, regulated by law, changes in the law are what we continue to wrangle for in our pursuit of Rights for Animals. And laws that win new rights and protections for our nonhuman cousins have really gathered pace in the last decade.


But when, just to take one example, badgers – a ‘protected’ species – are being slain in their thousands year upon year supposedly to safeguard other animals, dairy cattle – which later farmers will send to their deaths in the slaughterhouse  – there is clearly still a very long way to go.

So what if we didn’t need to change the law concerning animals at all? What if nonhuman animals had the right to have their interests properly taken into account before any human proposals were cemented into law?

Well, we just may have an exciting new way forward for Animal Rights, a way that could sweep aside the drawbacks inherent in all the various AR theories to date: it is the principle of political theory called the “all-affected.”

“The interests of animals are affected – often devastatingly – by collective decisions and, therefore, they, or – more specifically – their representatives, have a democratic right to have some say in the making of those decisions” says Professor Robert Garner.

If I can beg your patience a little further? To appreciate just how promising this approach could be, we need a super-quick run-through of Animal Rights in the past 40 years or so. Animal Rights is, as it always has been, dependent on two disciplines:

Philosophy, which deliberates on human perceptions of nonhuman animals, and their status relative to us.

And Law, which regulates that status.

I am neither a philosopher or a lawyer, so forgive my lack of expertise, simplifications of a complex subject, and any glaring omissions in my brief summary. This is a personal view, not by any means a definitive account of Animal Rights.


One of the first and most influential in recent years to grab hold of Richard Martin’s snowball and give it an energetic push down the mountain was Australian philosopher Peter Singer. He famously shook things up in the 1970s with his book Animal Liberation. His approach to Animal Rights was based on two principles:

  1. The separation of ‘human’ from ‘animal’ is illogical and arbitrary – there is far more difference between a great ape and an oyster than there is between a human and a great ape
  2. The utilitarian philosophy of Jeremy Bentham that ethics and morality are dictated by what will achieve “the greatest good of the greatest number”

It necessarily follows from his first principle that nonhumans must not be excluded from that “greatest number” for whom it is our moral duty to obtain “the greatest good”.


The problem with this approach to Animal Rights is that if it can be established (by humans, nonhumans having no say) that the greatest good can only be achieved for the greatest number by the use of animals, even if this means inflicting pain upon them or causing them to die, then such actions are justified. Singer for example condones the use of animals where ‘necessary’ in medical research – a position I for one totally reject.


Following quickly on Singer’s heels, Tom Regan gave the snowball another hearty shove with his book “The Case for Animal Rights”. His was a very different argument. He proposed that if animals are ‘subject-of-a-life’ as unquestionably humans are, then their value lies in more than just their usefulness to humans.

“Such an individual has inherent value independent of its utility for others. Because of this inherent value, a subject-of-a-life has rights to protect this value and not to be harmed. Other subjects have a duty to respect these rights.”¹


It seems a promising approach until you realise how high he set the bar for non-human animals to be worthy of consideration as ‘subject-of-a-life’, strangely, higher than is set for human beings.

The Big Stumbling Block – Species Criteria

For Regan, to be ‘subjects-of-a-life ‘ nonhumans must have “beliefs, desires, memory, feelings, self-consciousness, an emotional life, a sense of their own future, an ability to initiate action to pursue their goals, and an existence that is logically independent of being useful to anyone else’s interests” – his criteria any species must fulfil.

Humans all have rights independent of Regan’s requirements: newborn infants, certain disabled people, elderly people with failing mental and physical health – none of these could fulfil his criteria, but their rights are nevertheless guaranteed.

He is said not to be speciesist but so many species would be left by the wayside. Would the honey bee, for instance, reach Regan’s bar? Does the honey bee have ‘an emotional life’ and ‘beliefs’? And who decides? Humans of course. When it comes to nonhuman animals, Regan limits those supposedly deserving of rights to ‘normally mental mammals over a year old, several species of birds, and possibly fish’.

Apart from the few wild animals that qualify, certain farmed animals – cows, pigs and sheep – could benefit from his approach. But not calves, piglets or lambs, and very probably not (in spite of what we now know of their intelligence and complex emotional and social life) hens. Certainly not the millions of day-old chicks that drop off the conveyor belt into the grinder.

The criteria he has set would leave billions of animals, and a very large slice indeed of the estimated 8.7 million species on the planet without rights.


In the here and now, animal advocates fall broadly speaking into two camps: the abolitionists and the welfarists. The foremost spokesperson for Abolitionism is Professor Gary Francione. As a lawyer with a background in philosophy the Prof is peculiarly well qualified, one would think, to set out the ideal path for the AR ‘snowball’ to travel.

Abolitionism is based upon the philosophical premise that all animals, human and nonhuman, have the basic moral right not to be treated as the property of others. Therefore any human use of nonhumans is unjustifiable, just as human slavery is unjustifiable. All animals exist for their own purposes, not others. The moral baseline is veganism.

The battle for Abolitionism is legal as well as philosophical since in law, with a few notable exceptions, such as in a limited way in France², the status of nonhuman animals is still that of property. And most laws that relate to animals simply protect their welfare to a greater or lesser degree – without changing their status.

So how to get that legal status changed?

Two ways the status of nonhumans can be changed:

  1. By governmental legislation
  2. In the law courts. If a change in status can be established in a court of law, a legal precedent is set which would subsequently apply to all similar cases.

There are heroes for animals like Steven Wise of the Nonhuman Animal Rights Project in the US, and the Association of Professional Lawyers for Animal Rights (AFADA) in Argentina, toiling tirelessly to get that status change from property to person accepted in a court of law.


It’s a tough battle, less like giving the AR snowball a gentle nudge on its way, much more like pushing an elephant up a mountain. And once again there is a major problem. We are back to the dreaded Species Criteria. Bringing a case to court, a lawyer has to limit him/herself to a particular client or clients on whose behalf he/she is pleading. And we’d be crazy to think a judge would grant personhood to, say, a silkworm, let alone to the entire animal kingdom. The right client has to be chosen.monkey-256420__340

So what are the criteria by which a lawyer selects a client that has the best chance of success in court? The NhRP’s current plaintiffs are “members of species who have been scientifically proven to be self-aware and autonomous: currently, great apes, elephants, dolphins, and whales.”

This list of the species that qualify is even more meager than Regan’s. The idea, of course, is to ‘get a foot in the door’ for one species, which would pave the way for others. But I’m guessing it will be a long long while before science decides silkworms are self-aware and autonomous, the first hurdle they need to jump if their advocates are to pursue this particular route to legal rights.

I applaud their efforts and don’t wish to sound unduly pessimistic, but short of turning the entire world vegan, it is unclear how in practical terms Prof Francione is going to achieve his Abolitionist goal.


Certain animal charities such as PETA, Animal Aid, Viva, also advocate total non-use of animals for human purposes. But where out-and-out Abolitionists are at odds with them, is their pursuit at the same time of incremental welfare improvements to reduce the suffering of animals alive now.


It could be – and is – argued that campaigning for greater protections is a distraction from the goal of Animal Rights. Or worse, counter-productive, allowing the public to believe they can keep right on using animals, as long as it is done ‘humanely’. Abolitionists certainly think so and reject single issue campaigns. But that’s an argument we won’t get into just at the moment!

And the majority of other animal charities like ASPCA, HSUS and the RSPCA make no bones about their purely welfarist agenda.

Out-and-out revolution

There is absolutely no doubt that nearly all the exploitation and abuse, legal or illegal, humans inflict on nonhumans is in the service of the great capitalist god Profit. When it comes to lining their pockets humans have no regard for the rights of animals. So the answer is simple –  bring down capitalism.


Or is it? Personally, I can’t see the overthrow of capitalism stopping people wanting to eat meat and cheese, use leather or wear fur. Isn’t it likely, or at least possible, that today’s capitalist factory farms would be tomorrow’s communist or socialist state-run operations?

Finally, the good news!

At last we come to Professor Garner’s exciting new paper Animals and democratic theory: Beyond an anthropocentric account” published in Contemporary Political Theory less than two months ago. Even the title whets the appetite!

The Prof bases his thesis on the ‘all-affected principle’, already current in political theory. It goes like this: in a democracy, the interests of every sentient being affected by legislation must be considered. And those who clearly cannot speak for themselves must have their rights represented by those who can.

“A democratic polity should take account of animal interests, not because a substantial number of humans wish to see greater protection afforded to animals, but rather because animals themselves have a democratic right to have their interests represented in the political process.”

So exactly why should we believe Garner’s new political theory could do better for animals than what has gone before?
  • Firstly, because it removes disputable questions of morality, ethics, and humanity (humaneness) from the equation. Under this principle Animal Rights is a purely political matter. You don’t have to believe it immoral to exclude nonhumans from democracy – it’s enough that it’s undemocratic.
  • Secondly – and I think this is huge – because it sweeps away all those contentious species criteria we were talking about. Here there are no criteria to fulfil, except that of sentience alone.

So no longer does AR depend upon humans deciding whether an animal is ‘intelligent enough’ or has a ‘sufficiently complex emotional life’. A life need only be sentient. And that, says Professor Marc Bekoff, author of a Universal Declaration on Animal Sentience³, is now beyond dispute:

“After 2,500 studies, it’s time to declare animal sentience is proven.”

Not so very long ago black people and women, though most certainly affected by the collective decisions of their society, were entirely excluded from the democratic process. They battled hard for their rights, their vote, their say.

And won.

Because the ‘all-affected’ principle is surely the very heartbeat of Democracy.

Animals next!

To get general acceptance for Professor Garner’s new approach to AR, to help turn that snowball into an avalanche, please share widely!

You can read his complete paper here

Check out CASJ (Centre for Animals & Social Justice) who commissioned his work, and whose aim is to achieve:

• an overarching legal/political status for animals
• the institutional representation of animals’ interests within Government
• a government strategy and targets to improve animal protection

¹Subject-of-a-life – Blackwell Dictionary of Western Philosophy

²What France’s New Animal Rights Law Actually Means For Animals – The Dodo. This change in French law “only applies to pets or wild animals tamed or held in captivity. The sentience of wild animals, meanwhile, is not recognized.

³A Universal Declaration on Animal Sentience – Psychology Today

Footnote: The EU already implements something approaching Prof Garner’s thesis.

“In terms of Regional Economic Communities (RECs), the European Union (EU) is the most progressive one in regard to including animal welfare in its sphere of policy work. Its activities in this area are based on the recognition that animals are sentient beings.

An amendment to the constitutional basis of the EU, the Treaty of Lisbon, which came into effect on 1st December 2009, now includes this principle and made it a binding condition to pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals when formulating and implementing policies in relevant areas.This puts animal welfare on an equal footing with other key principles such as: gender equality, social protection, human health, combat of discrimination, sustainable development, consumer protection and data protection.”


Other Sources

There are three Animal Movements – Armory of the Revolution

Animals have democratic right to political representation – CASJ

The Case for Animal Rights – Wiki

Animal Rights – Wiki

Related posts

Persons Not Property – Could The Tide Be Turning?

Busting the Myths of Human Superiority

Vegan Rights & Why They Really Matter for the Animals



20 thoughts on “A Promising New Way Forward for Animal Rights?

  1. As an advocate of the “out-and-out revolution” approach, my thesis is that socialist societies kill and consume half the number of animals per capita as do capitalist societies. In that regard, revolutionaries employ both a utilitarian approach and an animal protectionist approach. The removal of profit, central economic planning, bureaucracy, and enlightened environmental views would all operate to diminish animal agriculture.
    And as socialism is much more likely to come about in the Third World, at least initially, the practicality of feeding grain to the starving instead of to livestock would be a particularly compelling policy.
    The only way the Animal Holocaust will ever end is with the end of the human species. All we can do is to minimize and to mitigate it.
    Revolution would make the biggest impact of any approach.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your interesting comments Roland – and for the reblog. I didn’t know that statistic about per capita animal consumption under different political systems. The greater consumption in capitalist countries must be at least in part because the huge meat and dairy corporations spend money creating a bigger market than there might otherwise be.

      Capitalism is a great evil that vitiates so much of the good that is attempted in environmentalism, animal welfare, animal rights, conservation etc etc. There is no doubt that the planet and its inhabitants would be so much better off if we humans were removed. Bring on the revolution! (But when we get our socialist government, let us have the ‘all-affected’ as its founding principle!)

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I harbor no illusions that socialism is animal-friendly. Any benefits to animals are merely the consequence of the mechanics of socialism. Our struggle will continue regardless of the governments or economic system we live under.
        The animals have never been worse off than they are now. Anything which will disrupt the staus quo can only help them.
        Revolution is the ultimate disruption of the status quo.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Is the “all-affected principle” a reason for hope or merely an overdose of optimism?

    Robert Garner, a professor of political science at Leicester University, UK, has suggested a way to protect animals that moves beyond moral/ethical arguments to “normative democratic” theory to include animals in the “demos” and take their interests into account.

    Examining the history of the species that Richard Martin (AKA “Humanity Dick”) fought for tells us how far we have (or have not) come and why activists are so eager for new ideas.

    Certainly, Richard Martin, MP, should be extolled for his work on behalf of animals at a time when few spoke up for them. His Act to Prevent the Cruel and Improper Treatment of Cattle, passed in 1822, punished with fines and imprisonment those who “beat, abused, or ill-treated any horse, mare, gelding, mule, ass, ox, cow, heifer, steer, sheep, or other cattle.” Not noted in the blog is that Mr. Martin also went on to sponsor laws to ban bull baiting, slaughterhouse abuse, and mistreatment of dogs and cats.

    However, Martin was actually not the first person to speak up for animals. In 1800 Sir William Pulteney, a Scottish MP, introduced a bill to outlaw bull baiting, a popular pastime especially among the working classes. The bulls were set upon by men with clubs, beaten, and forced off a bridge into the river before being retrieved to be torn apart by dogs. Unfortunately, Sir William’s bill went down to multiple defeats and was not passed until 1839!

    So fast forward to the 21st century. How far have we come?

    Well, bullfighting continues, primarily in Spain. After being successfully outlawed in several cities, a number of government officials are attempting to define the fight as part of Spain’s cultural heritage and thus protect it. But the fighting is just one of the horrors inflicted upon bulls in Spain. During one festival, the Toro Jubilo, bulls are subjected to multiple forms of torture, including tying balls of pitch to their horns and setting them on fire. The crowd cheers as the bulls try to escape the flames, all the while being burned and even blinded. During the Toro de la Vega, a bull is chased through the streets as people stab him with spears. Many of the festivals of animal abuse are in honor of saints’ days, all without being condemned by the Catholic Church. So almost two hundred years after the first attempt to protect bulls, they are still being tortured.

    Have the other animals—horses, mares, geldings, mules, cows, heifers—that Richard Martin helped done better in the years since his death?

    Horses have not fared well. In fact, they are suffering in greater numbers and in more forms than In Martin’s day. They are abused, neglected, and abandoned by cruel and irresponsible owners. They are brutalized in events such as rodeos and the Omak Suicide Race, and they are exploited on Premarin farms. Tennessee walking horses have painful blistering agents applied to their legs to encourage the high-stepping gait desired in horse shows. The Bureau of Land Management rounds up thousands of wild horses and burros to satisfy ranchers’ demand for more land. The horses who are survive are supposed to be adopted, but there are not enough homes, and they are often left languishing in holding pens. And according to the ASPCA, over 150,000 horses a year are slaughtered for the foreign meat market. The horses slaughtered include those from the BLM round-ups, the ones injured in rodeos, worn-out carriage horses and other old, sick, and injured equine victims of human greed and irresponsibility.

    What about laws for them? Horse slaughterhouses were closed in the United States during the Bush administration, but the killing was outsourced to Canada and Mexico (where the killing is particularly brutal). The Animal Welfare Act, passed in 1966, is supposed to regulate humane transport of animals, but Animals’ Angels, an organization that monitors auction lots and transport trucks, has documented egregious abuse, including that of injured and sick horses being trucked long distances to the southern and northing borders, with some perishing on the journeys, and foals actually born on the trucks trampled to death before arrival. In 1970 the Horse Protect Act was passed to outlaw using caustic substances on Tennessee walking horses. The law was so ineffective that in 2016–46 years later!–another attempt, the PAST (Prevent All Soring Tactics) Act, awaits a vote in Congress. Thus laws are failing horses.

    The other farm animals Martin sought to help are also worse off.

    Millions of cows, pigs, and sheep are killed for food. Currently farmed animals suffer from birth to death on factory farms, transport trucks, and slaughterhouses, both from abuse by sadistic people and from the pain of “standard agricultural practices,” such as dehorning and castration, without anesthesia, and general lack of care for illness or injuries.

    And what about laws for them? The Humane Slaughter Act was passed in 1958 to ensure that animals were stunned before they were actually slaughtered. However, undercover studies and reports from slaughterhouse workers tell of noncompliance and of animals having their throats slit and being skinned and dismembered while still conscious. Pigs are particularly brutalized, and there are stories of their being pushed into scalding water while still alive and aware. Workers have been documented beating crippled pigs onto the slaughter line. The quest for faster production and more profits have speeded up the slaughter process, thereby increasing the suffering inflicted. Another law, the Animal Welfare Act of 1966, enforced by the USDA, provides standards of acceptable care, including for transportation. Again, Animals’ Angels documents continued and severe abuses in auction yards and trucks, including ignoring the rules for hours allowed without rest, food, or water. Animals too sick or injured to board the trucks on their own are prodded to get up, have water forced into their noses to make them move, and are pushed into the trucks with fork lifts. The guilty seldom receive punishment for their infractions.

    Thus two hundred years after William Pulteney’s and Richard Martin’s humane laws, farm animal lives have worsened, not improved.

    Along with introducing bills against animal cruelty, Martin also helped found the SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to animals), which became the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). In the latter half of the 20th century, animal organizations have proliferated. Some, such as the HSUS, are a largely welfare groups, while others, such as PETA, promote animal rights. There are other organizations that were inconceivable in Martin’s time, such as Mercy For Animals and Compassion Over Killing, which use the modern technology of hidden cameras and the Internet to document and disseminate instances of horrendous farm animal abuse. Unfortunately, that documentation does not often result in significant punishment or compliance with laws. Bright spots new to our time are the sanctuaries, such as Farm Sanctuary, Animal Place, VINE, and Peaceful Prairie, where lucky farm animal survivors of abuse and escape from slaughter safely live out their lives.

    The interest in animal abuse has resulted in more academic attention. There are over 150 law schools that have at least one course on animals and the legal system. Philosophers have also published books on the status of animals. As noted in the blog, scholars have presented different views and advice but have not contributed to changing their status.

    Utilitarian Peter Singer believes that nonhuman animals must be included in considerations of obtaining the greatest good for the greatest number, but that does not exclude harming animals if it produces a greater good for a greater number of people.

    Tom Regan believes that if nonhuman animals meets a list of criteria, including “beliefs, memory, feelings, etc., they have inherent value, are “subject-of-a-life,” and have a right to be more than resources for human use. Some adult farm animals may fulfil Regan’s criteria, but their offspring would probably not qualify as subjects of their own small lives. Thus the infants of animals that Richard Martin fought for would be excluded from protection.

    Attorney Gary Francione’s abolitionism is the strongest rights position of all and would require veganism as a lifestyle. And while it would help the most animals for those who complied, abolitionism cannot overcome the fact that animals are still be regarded as property that few people are inclined to become vegan.

    One group, as noted, the Nonhuman rights group, is trying to gain personhood status for four animals: whales, dolphins, elephants, and great apes. That still leaves the huge majority of animals unprotected.

    Thus the intervention by attorneys cannot change the fact that animals are defined as property. The rhetorical arguments of philosophers must combat speciesism and animals’ traditional lack of moral standing based on religion and its promulgation of human superiority.

    So more than 200 years after the English humane groups tried to protect animals through enacting anti-cruelty laws, billions of animals are treated brutally and killed for human profit and pleasure. More animals are suffering in more ways today than in the early 19th century.

    Now a scholar suggests that political theory can help animals more than arguments from morality or ethics, which have not been very effective.

    Professor Garner suggests that the all-affected theory of democracy would protect animals by changing their status: “A democratic polity should take account of animal interests, not because a substantial number of people wish to see a greater protection afforded to animals, but rather that animals themselves have a democratic right to have their interests represented in the political process.”

    He continues, “In making the case for enfranchisement of animals, this article seeks to avoid utilizing contentious non-political ethical theory, relying, as a limiting device, only on the noncontentious claim that animals, by virtue of their sentience, have moral standing.”

    The all-affected” theory would be put into practice by electing people to represent the interests of “animals, with sentience being the main criterion guiding decisions.

    The idea is intriguing but raises many questions:
    1. Is granting animals “enfranchisement” constitutional?

    2. Would enfranchisement mean personhood status for animals?

    3. If the demos are be inclusive enough to contain animals as well as people, will the concept of sentience
    be inclusive enough to cover all animals—gorillas to garden slugs—rather than leaving some species out.

    4. Would all species have the same basic rights or would animals be granted species-specific rights?

    5. If sentience is the only criterion, does that mean abolitionism/veganism is the only result? Would sentience include the right to life? Or could “sentience” just consider the intensity of pain and limit human-inflicted pain to “acceptable” limits? Would the elected representatives make all those decisions?

    6. The author notes that “liminal” animals who live in human areas but are not domesticated must be treated according to moral guidelines (which, according to Garner, are contingent and fail if enough people do not approve).

    7. What about the fate of wild animals? According to Garner, “Finally, genuine wild animals are equivalent to sovereign communities–shades of Henry Beston!–which ought to be regulated by norms of international justice.” Would fish and wildlife services view wilderness as a sovereign community with its moose, bear and wolf inhabitants, then adhere to international norms for their protection?

    8. Finally, the main question: For centuries treatment of animals has been based on speciesism, with Law assigning animals to property status to be used as commodities and resources, and with Religion upholding human supremacy in all decisions over animal lives and suffering. Would any society tolerate a system that changed the status of animals to require drastic lifestyle changes and economic upheaval?

    The paper is an interesting discussion of a proposed political theory granting animals rights from completely different foundations than those utilized in the past. Obviously details on organization and operationalization remain in the future.

    Even Professor Garner is somewhat tentative, but still optimistic, in his assessment of the theory: “. . . If the all-affected principle is correct—and whilst this paper is not the place to provide a comprehensive evaluation of the all-affected principle since there are strong grounds for regarding it as correct—then there is little to prevent the inclusion of animals within the demos.”

    So will the “all-affected theory of democracy be a potential source of hope for animals after two centuries of little progress and increasing suffering and death?

    Or is it merely grist for the academic mills and their scholarly journals?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! That is a truly thorough and scholarly critique which puts my post to shame. Not that that is what important here of course.

      You raised some very important – and difficult – questions Professor Garner’s paper raises, but does not answer. I imagine the practical application of the ‘all-affected’ was outside his remit. Maybe he, or others will start examining possible resolutions for these problematic areas. It would be sad if ‘the all affected’ theory remained nothing more than grist to academic mills. In the light of all the horrors and abuses you detail, we do need some sort of hope held out for those billions of suffering animals.

      I do see cause for hope in all the ‘one-off’ victories achieved by advocates. Yes, we do still have bullfighting, but there has been progress. Some Spanish cities (Calonge, Tossa de Mar, Vilamacolum and La Vajol) have a ban in place. The region of Catalonia has had a ban since 2012, and last September thousands joined a demo calling for a ban in Madrid. Although bullfighting is still legal in Mexico, one city, Jalopa, has instituted a ban. And just yesterday the USDA announced very welcome ‘strict rules’ to crack down on horse soring. Just to take a couple of examples.

      We do now also have organisations like World Animal Net helping to shape policy at international level with their “Guiding Principles for Modern Animal Welfare Legislation”. And there is the Eurogroup for Animals doing sterling work in Brussels. Their vision is a Europe in which:

      Every animal lives in an environment where they can perform their natural behaviour
      Cruelty to animals is not tolerated
      The welfare of all animals is protected by European legislation
      All EU laws on the protection of animals are effective and prevent animal suffering
      Politicians in all 28 member states and at EU level consider the impact every new policy has on animals – something close to the ‘all-affected’ principle.

      Those are pretty far-reaching aims and their “active membership network of animal welfare groups is recognised as the leading authority on animal welfare.” They are respected and have influence at the highest level in Europe. Plus in the UK we have the CASJ, already mentioned in my post.

      As for speciesism in whatever form, my personal thinking is that yes, ALL animals must be considered sentient without exception, human animals being merely one among many. But advances will probably continue to be incremental. Every way in which nonhuman animals’ interests can be promoted and safeguarded is to be welcomed.

      I do think there is reason for hope in spite of the immensity of the abuse and exploitation. Without hope we would drown in despair.

      I am more grateful than I can say for your comprehensive comments which so very brilliantly filled in the holes of my post! Thank you.


    1. Thank you for your comments. I’m hoping the USDA will get serious about horse soring. I think most people who care about animals and try to help them are frustrated by all the loopholes in the laws and the frequent lack of enforcement.

      I am encouraged by the work (including the demonstrations!) against bullfighting. I’m watching to see if any laws are enacted to make it a cultural heritage. That is one of my big complaints–the attempts to continue cruelty under the excuse of tradition.

      As I noted, one of the bright spots in the history of advocacy is the growth of organizations, including the ones to are brave enough to venture beyond welfarism. I would never suggest we give up, although I have seen some activists in the past feel the cards are so stacked against the animals that they moved to other things.

      Thank you for all the time and work you do for the other creatures we share this earth with. I can be hard and frustrating but so worth every minute of it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes indeed. As you know we battle with cruelty under the excuse of tradition here in England with fox hunting. Not only did PM Blair leave a massive loophole in the Hunting with Dogs Act, the AR people on the ground who are monitoring and trying to thwart illegal hunting are literally putting their lives at risk from the hunters’ violence, and receive no support from the police – quite often the contrary. I salute all these wonderful people who work so hard for our nonhuman brethren and witness heartbreaking callousness and cruelty daily. I think all vegans agree that the hardest thing to contend with is the constant new unfoldings of human inhumanity to nonhumans.


    2. Well, that’s my Sunday morning reading sorted! Thank you for the link. It’s a very interesting paper. I think if deliberative democracy relies upon human rationality, capability to listen and communicate reasonably, capability to put aside self-interest, It doesn’t stand much chance! The points he makes about AR advocates absolutist views almost certainly not resulting in the desired outcome under such a system are valid. He does recognise the importance of AR activity ‘outside the system’ in consciousness-raising. I think it’s very important that this is done in such a way that people are drawn in, not antagonised, even while we maintain our absolutist stance.


  3. Animal rights and animal protection have little to do with one another. They frequently intersect, but animal rights is a legal concept, and animal protection a moral one.
    One can support animal rights while not caring a whit about animals, and one can be an animal protectionist and scoff at the idea that animals have any rights at all.
    Animal rights is the belief that animals should have the same legal protections to life and freedom that humans declare for themselves and which are guaranteed by government.
    Animal rights do not exist anywhere in the world, as no government recognizes the rights of animals to be free of human ownership and exploitation. Just as one can be a racist and oppose slavery, one can be ambivalent or even hostile to particular animals while nonetheless believing that they should not be murdered, enslaved or exploited for human benefit.
    While the animal movement is generally labeled the Animal Rights Movement, only a handful of people in the movement are actually engaged in the pursuit of animal rights, primarily small groups of lawyers seeking to change the law and small groups of revolutionaries seeking to change governments.
    Everyone else is working on animal protection. Promoting veganism, opposing whaling, sealing, hunting, rodeos, horse racing, bullfighting, rescuing cats and dogs, ALF raids, direct action, etc, are all in service to animal protection.
    One can support animal rights and still work within the animal exploitation system seeking to reduce animal suffering. I, for one, believe that the only way the Animal Holocaust will be be impacted is through social revolution. Disrupting the status quo, bringing down capitalism, installing socialism, removing profit from animal agriculture is the only way to reduce the horrors. Even so, I support measures to minimize pain and suffering under the current paradigm.
    Some do not. Most notably Gary Francione, the self styled leader of the “abolitionist approach to animal rights.” Not only does Francione’s approach have nothing to do with animal rights, it is subversive of animal protection.
    Fancione’s whole-loaf-or-none approach is the stumbling block to the compromise and consensus envisaged in democratic theory.
    Animal rights, on the other hand, cannot be voted upon or compromised in service to consensus, just as human rights cannot be bartered in political negotiation.


  4. You make some excellent points, thank you. It’s quite difficult to see how any political system is going to fully embrace Animal Rights and subsume them into law. But bringing down capitalism and replacing it with socialism would definitely be the remedy for all kinds of social injustice. As for Professor Francione, I do think he does animal protection at least a great disservice by attacking those who are working for it. One of the biggest problems for veganism and Animal Rights is the acrimony between the different factions. For me, ahimsa and winning hearts and minds has to be the way forward. Thanks again. I really value your thoughtful contribution to what is quite a vexed subject.

    Liked by 1 person

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