Strategic Analysis of Animal Welfare Legislation
This report explores the roots of the controversy in the animal protection movement around welfare reform and abolition, and offers a method for analyzing proposed protective measures individually as an alternative to judging them based on whether they fall into the “welfarist” or “abolitionist” camp. The method is then applied to the abolition of the battery cages as a specific example. The report discusses 16 axioms or principles that guide the thinking behind the proposed method of strategic analysis, such as the principle that the wishes of animals — including what animals themselves express — must be respected by those who act in their interests.
These are the 16 principles:
- Animals exist. Their experience of pleasure or pain depends on what actually happens to them, not on our theories, motives or purposes.
- Nothing happens in a vacuum. Actions for animals should be analyzed as individual proposals and in their relative contexts rather than in the abstract.
- Animals are the subject of animal liberation. Animals resist captivity and subjugation by humans, and also intrusions into their habitats, and therefore should be recognized as the subject, as opposed to the object, of animal liberation, and the most legitimate leaders.
- Liberation includes self-determination and freedom. Animal advocates must respect the self-determination right of animals on matters such as whether or not extreme suffering might be relieved.
- Animals may want more than liberation. Non-human animals may want different things than human animals.
- Animals have voices. Animals can and do express their wishes.
- Animal advocates ought to listen to animals. If humans believe that animals deserve self-determination, then we must pay attention when they express their wishes.
- Actions taken on behalf of animals ought to be taken for the sake of animals. Human thinking about what to do or not to do for animals should be guided by their interests rather than our own.
- Animals are different from one another. Animals have different characteristics and needs, so they have different priorities.
- Different animals may want different rights. Different animals (and even those within the same species) may have different perspectives, depending upon their circumstances.
- The interests of different animals may be contradictory. The legitimate interests of different animals may contradict each other.
- Animals value their own lives and the lives of some known others. The fight-or-flight behavior of animals demonstrates the importance of life to animals.
- Animals do not sacrifice their lives or welfare for unknown others. We cannot assume that other lives matter to animals and therefore cannot assume that they are willing to sacrifice themselves for animals of another species, animals they do not know, or for future animals.
- Animals are not objects. To sacrifice the life of an animal for the sake of another is to treat the sacrificed animal as an object in relation to the other animal.
- Harm happens. It is important to assess the tactics and cooperative association among animal advocates, as time spent on one crisis diverts time spent on another.
- Animal welfare is a component of animal liberation. We may not refuse to relieve the suffering of existing animals for the sake of possible future animals at the expense of existing animals who have not consented to be sacrificed.
The proposed method of analyzing animal protection measures includes the following ten steps:
- Think about the animal. Consider known physical and psychological characteristics of the animal.
- Assess the suffering the measure is supposed to relieve. Assess the impact of the practices that the measure seeks to ban or regulate on this animal, considering physical pain and specific impact that this action has on the animal.
- What do the animals themselves have to say about this suffering? Consider how animals express their distress and seek to end it.
- Assess the extent to which the measure would relieve the suffering. Analyze the net effect of the change on the animal’s welfare.
- Assess the impact of the measure on other animals. Will the measure help or hurt animals of other species or animals of the same species in other regions?
- Assess the economic impact of the proposed measure. Will the measure make it more or less expensive to exploit the animal or the industry?
- Assess the strategic impact of the proposed measure. Assess the impact of the measure on a long-term strategic plan for the abolition of the industry.
- Assess the validity of known arguments for the measure. Assess the credibility of supporting arguments.
- Assess the validity of known arguments against the measure. Assess the credibility of contrary arguments.
- Sum up your conclusions. On balance, is the measure in the interest of the animal in question?
A case study concerning the abolition of battery cages is presented in detail in the report to demonstrate how to apply these axioms and principles.
The Eastern Shore Sanctuary & Education Center also published a report with practical tips for creative conflict resolution between advocates specifically in response to this controversy around welfare reform.