Animal Rights Challenge

July 27th, 2014

My second book, The Animal Rights Challenge, examines the animal rights movement, assesses society’s response and proposes a strategy framing moral and legal rights for animals as part of a progressive agenda for social change.

A challenge is haunting society – animal rights. The fundamental test for the animal rights movement is to persuade society to embrace moral and legal rights for animals. The challenge for society is how it comes to terms with recognizing animals as sentient beings and implementing a public policy program of social and political change. Like it or not, animal rights are here to stay. The animal rights movement is not going away. Regardless of anyone’s point of view, the issue can no longer be ignored.

Within four decades of its emergence in the 1970s the animal rights movement has succeeded in placing a spotlight on our contradictory relationship with animals. Often trivialized as a fringe cause in support of a ridiculous notion, the animal rights movement is making a significant impact as the robustness of its argument is increasingly recognized. Growing numbers of people boycott products and services which involve animal cruelty and instead chose meat-free, cruelty-free, vegetarian and vegan alternatives. Non-governmental organizations, companies and governments have adopted policies and laws which regulate or prohibit how they use animals. But what’s next for the animal rights movement? And what are the next steps for society as the demand for legal and moral rights for animals gain credibility and influence?

The genesis of The Animal Rights Challenge lies in various places, including a presentation, “The Animal Rights Challenge,” I gave at the Minding Animals Conference in London on December 5, 2008. The talk is serialized in five parts.

The objective of my presentation is to make the case that the animal rights challenge is to establish the moral and legal status of animals as a public policy issue. Presently, animal rights is primarily framed as an optional lifestyle choice issue. Notwithstanding important philosophical differences, I use animal rights in this paper to mean all pro-animal advocacy ideological positions. I define the animal rights movement as a social movement whose constituent organizations range in their ideological perspectives. I critique the movement’s traditional activities, propose a five-part evaluation process and offer practical, measurable steps to making animal rights a mainstream political issue.

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