Abolitionism within the animal rights movement is a movement that seeks to abolish animal exploitation. The abolitionists' objective is to secure a legal and moral paradigm shift, whereby animals are no longer regarded as property to be used or exploited. Nothing about abolitionism implies that certain tactics are to be favored. However, a vocal contingent of abolitionists prefer nonviolent vegan advocacy.
Abolitionism Versus WelfarismEdit
Though not strictly a part of the definition of abolitionism, abolitionists often promote the idea that the legal ownership of animals must be abolished before animal suffering can be substantially reduced. This abolitionist position claims that focusing on animal welfare not only fails to challenge animal suffering, but may actually prolong it by making the exercise of property rights over animals appear more attractive.
The most prominent of the abolitionist writers is Gary Francione, professor of law and philosophy at Rutgers School of Law-Newark. He refers to animal rights groups who seek to change the way animals are valued by pursuing welfare concerns, such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, as the "new welfarists," arguing that their intervention risks making the public feel more comfortable about its use of animals. Francione's position is that there is, in fact, no animal rights movement in the United States.
Though many in the animal rights movement seek to abolish the exploitation of animals and/or the property status of animals, they may not call themselves Abolitionists, partly because the term "abolition" has become synonymous with "divisive." Some consider vocal abolitionists, such as Gary Francione, who are critical of animal welfare reforms to be more divisive than productive. For example, Nathan Nobis wrote, "My sense is that the disagreements between Francione and others are not as deep or 'philosophical' as I suspect he thinks they are: for a large part, they are empirical disputes about the efficacy of campaign tactics. He is often divisive when there is no disagreement [...] His recognizing this would only improve his relations with and influence on other animal advocates."
- "Animal Rights: The Abolitionist Approach", Gary Francione's website.
- Francione, Gary. Introduction to Animal Rights: Your Child or the Dog?, 2000.
- Francione, Gary. Rain Without thunder: the Ideology of the Animal Rights Movement, 1996.
- Francione, Gary. Animals, Property, and the Law, 1995.
- Torres, Bob. Making a Killing: the Political Economy of Animal Rights, 2007.
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