Abolitionism (animal rights)
|Description||The legal ownership of non-human animals should be abolished.|
|Subject||Animal rights, ethics, law, philosophy|
Abolitionism within animal rights theory is the idea that focusing on animal welfare reform not only fails to challenge animal suffering, but may prolong it by making the exercise of property rights over animals appear acceptable. The abolitionists' objective is to secure a moral and legal paradigm shift, whereby animals are no longer regarded as things to be owned and used. The American philosopher Tom Regan writes that abolitionists want empty cages, not bigger ones. This is contrasted with animal protectionism, the position that change can be achieved by incremental improvements in animal welfare.
Gary Francione, professor of law and philosophy at Rutgers School of Law-Newark, argues from the abolitionist perspective that self-described animal-rights groups who pursue welfare concerns, such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, risk making the public feel comfortable about its use of animals. As a result, he calls such groups the "new welfarists," arguing that, though their aim is an end to animal use, the reforms they pursue are indistinguishable from reforms agreeable to traditional welfarists, who he says have no interest in abolishing animal use. He argues that reform campaigns entrench the property status of animals, and validate the view that animals simply need to be treated better. Instead, he writes, the public's view that animals can be used and consumed ought to be challenged. His position is that this should be done by promoting ethical veganism.
Animal welfare progress
In 1992, Switzerland amended its constitution to recognize animals as beings and not things. In the interests of future generation, Germany added animal welfare in a 2002 amendment to its constitution, becoming the first European Union member to do so.
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- Francione, Gary. Animals, Property, and the Law. Temple University Press, 1995.
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- Regan, Tom. The Case for Animal Rights. University of California Press, 1980.