Farmed Animals, Humans, and Individuality
For many animal advocates, the issue of how we get people to identify with and care about the plight of farmed animals is critical. Part of this challenge is knowing when and how to refer to the sheer scale of animal suffering going on in the world. There are so many billions of farmed animals killed each year that it is hard to connect people emotionally to this abstract figure. We want people to understand the massive exploitation taking place around the world, but we also want them to know that each individual animal matters.
This paper examines this issue, asking the reader to consider how we think about farmed animals as both a “mass” and as individuals. The authors speak of the “tension between individuality and massivity or multitude-icity, between the needs of the herd and the wants of the individual,” and discuss how those needs get negotiated and reconciled in the minds and actions of people. They explain how, by making flocks and herds massive and abstract, we render them “metaphoric and killable.” They also explore how we struggle to find singularity and realize an ethical “individual life worth living” for farmed animals when considering animal welfare. Overall, this article poses some excellent (and difficult) questions for animal advocates to grapple with.