Animal Rights Activism

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activismAnimal Rights Activism
 
We have seen throughout history, escalation of restless forces that seek to achieve a status they have been denied.  The day may come, when the rest of the animal creation may acquire those rights which never could have been withholden from them but by the hand of tyranny. Principle Five of the Six Principles of the Abolitionist Approach states that the rights of humans and nonhumans are inextricably intertwined. The second chapter deals with animal cognition, the conditions of factory farming, animal experimentation, use of animals in entertainment, etc.Sept 22. 2015: Paul York on the ethics of hunting and animal rights ethics in relation to the environmental crisis. Rather than providing a set of articles in encyclopedic format of the animal rights movement, the book will focus on defining what the concept of animal rights is, the implications of adopting it, and the reasons for (and against) such adoption. The two most important books will most likely be Animal Liberation by P. Singer and The Case For Animal Rights by Tom Regan. Secondly, an overview of animal cognition, the conditions of factory farming, and agriculture.For the last 50 years or more, the debate has raged over the role of animals in human society, with particular reference to the ways in which we use them for our benefit.  Before we explore the intellectual underpinnings of animal rights, let`s look at animal welfare, which is a vastly simpler concept and predates animal rights philosophy by centuries. Animal welfare was a key principle guiding the humane movement of the 1800s; the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) was founded in 1824 and brought these welfare principles into mainstream Western culture.Let us first adopt a broad definition of activism as the process of acting in support of a cause, as opposed to privately lamenting and bemoaning the current state of affairs.  The core idea guiding the humane movement was that it`s okay to use animals for food, entertainment, transportation, medical research, whatever—but if animals are to be used for purposes like these, they shouldn`t subjected to cruelty or avoidable harm. Humane organizations also sought outright bans on the most despicable uses of animals, such as fox hunting and animal fights—but it was the reduction of harm rather than the abolition of exploitation that guided the work of these groups.From SeaWorld experiencing massive losses in profit and attendance to Hawaii banning all exotic animals from performing, 2015 has been an immensely progressive and satisfying year for animal rights activists. So the great virtue of animal welfare rhetoric is that it requires nothing in the way of protracted thinking. It`s therefore easy to get most animal-exploiting businesses to at least halfheartedly accept a welfare perspective geared toward eliminating the worst cruelties. Regardless of whether we are talking about a farm, a zoo, or a laboratory, providing truly good animal welfare requires a shocking level of added expense. I`ve visited a couple of egg farms that make minimal compromises where welfare is concerned. From Dusk `til Dawn: An Insider`s View of the Growth of the Animal Liberation Movement.
 
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So whenever animal exploiters are persuaded to take animal welfare seriously, production costs often rise , the total number of animals raised declines , and the cruelest handling methods are reevaluated and often banned. And while nobody can legitimately doubt that cage-free hens suffer far less than their battery-cage counterparts, there remains ample room for welfare improvement at most cage-free farms. This is a misguided position, as it`s both patently false, while potentially crippling to an entire arm of the animal protection movement.Just as cage-free eggs produced under varying welfare standards are widely available, you can likewise find beef, pork, chicken, and milk that don`t come from factory farms. Effectively advocating for animal rights requires some careful thinking and a solid philosophical basis. The civil rights movements did not require convenience to get their points across.But, as we have just seen with layer hens, a careful look at enhanced welfare meat and milk generally reveals great room for improvement as well as certain troubling practices that money cannot remedy. Since no system of raising animals for food is perfect, some animal rights advocates sarcastically refer to higher welfare animal foods as happy meat,” and assert that they offer no meaningful reduction of cruelty over the worst factory farmed meat.Animal advocates would therefore do well to understand that as long as people insist on eating meat, we should always communicate that there is an ethical obligation to ensure that the animals involved won`t suffer needless cruelty. Truly good animal welfare is not only extraordinarily expensive, it`s difficult to verify. Higher welfare farms may therefore have an irresistible temptation to reduce expenses by reneging on the welfare standards they`ve promised.Chipotle Mexican Grill learned this the hard way in January of 2015, when it had to stop offering pork at hundreds of its restaurants because one of its largest suppliers wasn`t adhering to the welfare standards it was under contract to provide. Advocating for animal welfare—or, at the barest of minimums, not criticizing animal welfare improvements—is of course only the starting point, not the end point, of effective animal advocacy. If we are to have any hope of ending the suffering of tens of billions of farm animals each year, animal rights (not just animal welfare) must enter into the discussion.
 
While today Singer is commonly regarded as the father of the animal rights movement, ironically Animal Liberation did not make a concerted attempt to argue that animals in fact have rights. Singer began by conceding that there are certain undeniable pleasures associated with animal exploitation—take, as one example, the savory flavor of meat enjoyed by millions. Singer convincingly demonstrated in Animal Liberation that whenever humans make use of animals, the pleasures enjoyed by humans are likely minuscule compared to the sufferings inflicted upon animals.The most notable of these constraints is that, by reducing everything to a calculation of potential joy vs. suffering, the intrinsic value of the animal`s life is not at all accounted for. For instance, utilitarian thinkers may offer no objection to the slaughter of an animal, if that animal lived a decent life and was killed instantly and without any suffering. Animal Liberation popularized a second concept—called speciesism—that opened the door to considering animal rights. Speciesism is an easily understood label that offers a powerful avenue of discussion for animal advocates.It`s likely that most of the animal cruelty and slaughter that exists today can be linked to speciesist beliefs. So including speciesism in discussions related to animal exploitation is a powerful way to start people thinking about difficult and important questions. A familiarity with animal rights and welfare can guide you to the most effective forms of activism, while also enabling you to choose the talking points that are most likely to persuade others.What matters is simply whether exploited animals have sufficient awareness to be the subject of a life.” If some animals indeed possess this level of sentience, then taking their lives, or depriving them of life in a natural setting, is a violation of their rights regardless of any benefits derived by humans. The philosophy of animal rights not only accepts these truths, it insists upon and justifies them.The concepts advanced in Singer`s and Regan`s writings helped open the door to legal personhood,” an approach to animal rights that shows great promise when it comes to winning new legal protections for animals. The Nonhuman Rights Project has embraced this approach to argue that being autonomous and self-determining is a sufficient condition for legal personhood, at least for the purpose of gaining freedom through a writ of habeas corpus. Dagens djurrätt (Today`s animal rights), Sydskenskan, February 5, 2010 ( Google translation ).