Advocating for Animals: Our Goals
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from All-Creatures.org

FROM

Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Advocating for Animals: Our Goals

To be effective advocates, it helps to have a clear picture of our goals. Even if we doubt that achieving those goals is possible, they can help direct our specific actions.

Many animal advocates aim to maximize animal well-being. We live in a world beset by violence, including animals killing and eating each other, and the ideal of animals living peacefully together (as envisioned by Isaiah 11:6-9) would seem to require some kind of divine intervention. But, we can minimize the harm humans do to nonhumans. This would likely be what animals would choose, if they could articulate their preferences.

Some animal advocates assert that we should pursue animal liberation, animal rights, or ending the property status of animals. They argue that such long-term goals are more important than short-term animal welfare. I have several reservations about this position. First, few of us would choose to suffer extreme misery in the hope (which arguably is quite remote) that someday others will enjoy much better living conditions. We shouldnít impose a choice on nonhumans that we would not make for ourselves.

Second, though many people have very strong opinions on the matter, nobody really knows how best to achieve animal liberation, animal rights, or ending the property status of animals. It is possible that securing short-term improvements in animal welfare is the policy course that offers the best chance of leading to animal rights, animal liberation, or ending the property status of animals. Third, the degree of abuse of animals on farms is so extreme right now that there is an urgent need to improve conditions. Finally, I think we should regard animal rights, animal liberation, or ending the property status of animals as means to ends and not ends in themselves. Animals donít care about abstract notions such as rights. They want to engage in behaviors that make them feel good and they want to avoid pain and suffering. It is possible that animal rights, animal liberation, or ending the property status of animals might be the best way to address such desires among animals, but we really donít know.

What does our Christian faith say about goals when it comes to animal issues? I will explore this next essay.


Go on to: Advocating for Animals: A Christian Perspective
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