Animal liberation movement

Animal liberation movement

:"For the concept, see Animal rights. For other uses, see Animal liberation (disambiguation)." The animal liberation or animal rights movement, sometimes called the animal personhood or animal advocacy movement, is a global movement with roughly three components: philosophical debate, legal development, and direct action. The movement seeks an end to the rigid moral and legal distinction drawn between human and non-human beings, an end to the status of animals as property, and an end to their use in the research, food, clothing, and entertainment industries.

It is one of the few examples of a social movement that was created, and is to a large extent sustained academically, by philosophers."Animal rights," "Encyclopaedia Britannica", 2007.]


All animal liberationists believe that the individual interests of non-human animals deserve recognition and protection, but the movement can be split into two broad camps.

Animal rights advocates, or rights liberationists, believe that these basic interests confer moral rights of some kind on the animals, and/or ought to confer legal rights on them; see, for example, the work of Tom Regan. Utilitarian liberationists, on the other hand, do not believe that animals possess moral rights, but argue, on utilitarian grounds — utilitarianism in its simplest form advocating that we base moral decisions on the greatest happiness of the greatest number — that, because animals have the ability to suffer, their suffering must be taken into account in any moral philosophy. To exclude animals from that consideration, they argue, is a form of discrimination that they call speciesism; see, for example, the work of Peter Singer.Taylor, Angus. "Animals and Ethics". Broadview Press, 2003, pp. 153 ff.]

Despite these differences, the terms "animal liberation" and "animal rights" are generally used interchangeably.


The movement is regarded as having been founded in the UK in the early 1970s by a group of Oxford academics, now known as the "Oxford Group."" [ Ethics: Animals] ." "Encyclopaedia Britannica Online". 2007.] Psychologist Richard Ryder, who was part of the group, writes that "rarely has a cause been so rationally argued and so intellectually well armed."Cox, Simon and Vadon, Richard. [ "How animal rights took on the world"] , BBC Radio 4, retrieved June 18, 2006.] He cites a 1965 article by novelist Brigid Brophy in the "Sunday Times" as pivotal in helping to spark the movement. Brophy wrote:

Ryder wrote three letters to the Daily Telegraph in response to Brophy's arguments. [Ryder, Richard. Letters to the editor, "Daily Telegraph", April 7, May 3, and May 20, 1969.] Brophy read Ryder's letters and put him in touch with Oxford philosophers Stanley and Roslind Godlovitch, and John Harris, who were working on a book about the issue.Ryder, Richard. "Animal Revolution: Changing Attitudes Towards Speciesism". Berg, 2000, p. 6.] In 1970, Ryder coined the phrase "speciesism," first using it in a privately printed pamphlet to describe the assignment of value to the interests of beings on the basis of their membership of a particular species.Ryder, Richard D. [,11917,1543799,00.html "All beings that feel pain deserve human rights"] , "The Guardian", August 6, 2005.] Ryder subsequently became a contributor to "Animals, Men and Morals: An Inquiry into the Maltreatment of Non-humans"(1972), edited by John Harris and the Godlovitches, a work that became highly influential, [Godlovitch R, Godlovitch S, and Harris J. (1972). "Animals, Men and Morals: An Inquiry into the Maltreatment of Non-humans"] as did Rosalind Godlovitch's essay "Animal and Morals," published the same year.

It was in a review of "Animals, Men and Morals" for the "New York Review of Books" that Australian philosopher Peter Singer first put forward his basic arguments, based on utilitarianism and drawing an explicit comparison between women's liberation and animal liberation. Out of the review came Singer's "Animal Liberation", published in 1975, now regarded as the "bible" of the movement.

Other books regarded as important include philosopher Tom Regan's "The Case for Animal Rights" (1983); "Created from Animals: The Moral Implications of Darwinism" by James Rachels (1990); "Animals, Property, and the Law" (1995) by legal scholar Gary Francione, "Rattling the Cage: Toward Legal Rights for Animals" by another legal scholar Steven M. Wise (2000); and "Animal Rights and Moral Philosophy" by Julian H. Franklin (2005)." [ Animal Rights: The Modern Animal Rights Movement] ." "Encyclopædia Britannica". 2007.]

Nature of the movement


The movement is no longer viewed as hovering on the fringe.Jonsson, Patrik. [ "Tracing an animal-rights philosophy"] , "Christian Science Monitor", October 9, 2001.] In the 1980s and 1990s, it was joined by a wide variety of academics and professionals, including lawyers, physicians, psychologists, veterinarians, and former vivisectionists, and is now a common subject of study in philosophy departments in Europe and North America. Animal law courses are taught in 92 out of 180 law schools in the U.S., [ [ "Animal law courses"] , Animal Legal Defense Fund.] and the movement has gained the support of senior legal scholars, including Alan DershowitzDershowitz, Alan. "Rights from Wrongs: A Secular Theory of the Origins of Rights", 2004, pp. 198–99, and "Darwin, Meet Dershowitz," "The Animals' Advocate", Winter 2002, volume 21.] and Laurence Tribe of Harvard Law School. [ "'Personhood' Redefined: Animal Rights Strategy Gets at the Essence of Being Human"] , Association of American Medical Colleges, retrieved July 12, 2006.] Chapters of animal rights law have been created in several state bar associations, and resolutions related to animal rights are regularly proposed within the American Bar Association.

Michael Socarras of Greenberg Traurig told the Association of American Medical Colleges: "There is a very important shift under way in the manner in which many people in law schools and in the legal profession think about animals. This shift has not yet reached popular opinion. However, in [the U.S.] , social change has and can occur through the courts, which in many instances do not operate as democratic institutions. Therefore, the evolution in elite legal opinion is extremely significant ..."


Veganism and vegetarianism

Animal liberationists usually boycott industries that use animals. Foremost among these is factory farming, [ [ Cruelty To Animals] , "".] which produces the majority of meat, dairy products, and eggs in industrialized nations. The transportation of farm animals for slaughter, which often involves their live export, has in recent years been a major issue for animal rights groups, particularly in the UK and Scandinavia.

The vast majority of animal rights advocates adopt vegetarian or vegan diets.Singer, Peter. "Animal Liberation", second edition, Random House, 1975; this edition 1990, p. 160ff.] . They may also avoid clothes made of animal skins, such as leather shoes, and will not use products known to contain animal byproducts. Goods containing ingredients that have been tested on animals are also avoided where possible. Company-wide boycotts are common. The Procter & Gamble corporation, for example, tests many of its products on animals, leading many animal rights advocates to boycott the company's products entirely, whether tested on animals or not.

There is a growing trend in the American movement towards devoting all resources to vegetarian outreach. The 9.8 billion animals killed there for food every year far exceeds the number of animals used in other ways. Groups such as Vegan Outreach and Compassion Over Killing devote their time to exposing factory-farming practices by publishing information for consumers and by organizing undercover investigations.

Direct action

:"Timeline of ALF actions: 1976-1999 and 2000-Present"The movement espouses a number of approaches, and is bitterly divided on the issue of direct action and violence, with very few activists or writers publicly advocating the latter tactic as a justified method to use. ["Today", interview with Jerry Vlasak, BBC Radio 4, July 26, 2004, cited in Best, Steven. [ "Who's Afraid of Jerry Vlasak?"] Animal Liberation Press Office, undated, retrieved January 17, 2008.] Most groups reject violence against persons, intimidation, threats, and the destruction of property: for example, the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) and Animal Aid. These groups concentrate on education and research, including carrying out undercover investigations of animal-testing facilities. There is some evidence of cooperation between the BUAV and the ALF: for example, the BUAV used to donate office space for the use of the ALF in London in the early 1980s.Newkirk, Ingrid. "Free the animals". Lantern Books, 2000. ISBN 1-930051-22-0]

Other groups do not condemn the destruction of property, or intimidation, but do not themselves engage in those activities, concentrating instead on education, research, media campaigns, and undercover investigations: for example, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

A third category of activists operates using the leaderless resistance model, working in covert cells consisting of small numbers of trusted friends, or of one individual acting alone. These cells engage in direct action: for example by carrying out raids to release animals from laboratories and farms, using names like the Animal Liberation Front (ALF); or by boycotting and targeting anyone or any business associated with the controversial animal testing lab, Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS), using a campaign name like Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC).

Activists who have carried out or threatened acts of physical violence have operated using the names; Hunt Retribution Squad (HRS), Animal Rights Militia (ARM), Justice Department and the Revolutionary Cells--Animal Liberation brigade (RCALB).

A November 13, 2003 edition of CBS News' 60 Minutes charged that "eco-terrorists," a term used by the United States government to refer to the Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front, are considered by the FBI to be "the country’s biggest domestic terrorist threat." [ [ FBI, ATF address domestic terrorism] , "CNN", 19th May 2005.] John Lewis, a Deputy Assistant Director for Counterterrorism at the FBI, stated in a 60 Minutes interview that these groups "have caused over $100 million worth of damage nationwide", and that "there are more than 150 investigations of eco-terrorist crimes underway". [ [ Burning Rage] , "CBS News", 18th June 2006.] In September 2006, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the "Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act", legislation which would allow federal authorities to "help prevent, better investigate, and prosecute individuals who seek to halt biomedical research through acts of intimidation, harassment, and violence." [ [ S3880] , "United States Senate"]

Many of the ideas used by those who engage in direct action were developed by British activists. The UK is regarded as "Afghanistan for the growth of animal rights extremism throughout the world," Patti Strand of the American lobby group National Animal Interest Alliance told the BBC. "The animal rights movement that we are dealing with in the United States is a direct import from the United Kingdom." [ "How animal rights took on the world"] Cox, Simon & Vadon, Richard. "BBC Radio 4", retrieved June 18, 2006.]

Some activists have attempted blackmail and other illegal activities, such as the intimidation campaign to close Darley Oaks farm, which involved hate mail, malicious phonecalls, hoax bombs, arson attacks and property destruction, climaxing in the theft of Gladys Hammond's body, the owners' mother-in-law, from a Staffordshire grave. Over a thousand ALF attacks in one year in the UK alone caused £2.6m of damage to property, prompting some experts to state that animal rights now tops the list of causes that prompt violence in the UK. [ [ Animal rights, terror tactics] , "BBC News", 30th August 2007.]

There are also a growing number of "open rescues," in which liberationists enter businesses to remove animals without trying to hide their identities. Open rescues tend to be carried out by committed individuals willing to go to jail if prosecuted, but so far no farmer has been willing to press charges. [ [ Anti-terror law 'could trap animal extremists'] , "The Telegraph", 25th October 2005.]

Philosophical and legal aims

The movement aims to include animals in the moral community by putting the basic interests of non-human animals on an equal footing with the basic interests of human beings. A basic interest would be, for example, not being made to suffer pain on behalf of other individual human or non-human animals. The aim is to remove animals from the sphere of property and to award them personhood; that is, to see them awarded legal rights to protect their basic interests.Liberationists argue that animals appear to have value in law only in relation to their usefulness or benefit to their owners, and are awarded no intrinsic value whatsoever. In the United States, for example, state and federal laws formulate the rules for the treatment of animals in terms of their status as property. Liberationists point out that Texas Animal Cruelty Laws apply only to pets living under the custody of human beings and exclude birds, deer, rabbits, squirrels, and other wild animals not owned by humans, ignoring that juridiction for such creatures comes under the domain of state wildlife officers. The U.S. Animal Welfare Act excludes "pet stores ... state and country fairs, livestock shows, rodeos, purebred dog and cat shows, and any fairs or exhibitions intended to advance agricultural arts and sciences." There is no mention in the law that such activities already fall under the jurisdiction of state agriculture departments. The Department of Agriculture interprets the Act as also excluding cold-blooded animals, and warm-blooded animals not "used for research, teaching, testing, experimentation ... exhibition purposes, or as a pet, [and] farm animals used for food, fiber, or production purposes". [ [ Again, such animals come under the jurisiciton of STATE law, not federal. A Critique of the Kantian Theory of Indirect Moral Duties to Animals] , "Animal Liberation Front".]

Regarding the campaign to change the status of animals as property, the movement has seen success in several countries. Switzerland passed legislation in 1992 recognizing non-human animals as beings, not things. The German Civil Code had been amended correspondingly two years earlier. In 2002, the words "and animals" were added to the constitutional clause obliging the German state to protect the "natural living conditions", which has been regarded as a milestone in the development of the legal status of animals in Germany. The amendment, however, has not had much impact in German legal practice yet. The greatest success has certainly been the granting of basic rights to five great ape species in New Zealand in 1999. Their use is now forbidden in research, testing or teaching.

The Seattle-based Great Ape Project (GAP) — founded by Australian philosopher Peter Singer, the author of "Animal Liberation", widely regarded as the "bible" of the animal liberation movement — is campaigning for the United Nations to adopt its Declaration on Great Apes, which would see chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orang-utans included in a "community of equals" with human beings. The declaration wants to extend to the non-human apes the protection of three basic interests: the right to life, the protection of individual liberty, and the prohibition of torture. [ [] , "Great Ape Project".] . The New Zealand success is partly ascribed to GAP´s activity.

Public support

"Animal People", an independent newspaper covering the international animal-protection and animal-rights movements, indicates that these issues are increasing in popularity with the public. Citing U.S. IRS (tax) form 990 numbers for 2004, the newspaper says that donations to animal rights groups increased by 40 percent from 2003 to 2004. For example:

*The Humane Society of the United States (animal protection): revenues of $74 million, up 3 percent.
*The Massachusetts Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (animal protection): revenues of $48.2 million, up an 11 percent.
*People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (animal rights): $28.1 million, up 20 percent.
*Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (animal rights): $16 million, up from $12 million.

"Animal People" estimates the combined budgets of animal protection organizations at more than $290 million in 2004, up from $207 million in 2003. [ [ Donations increase to animal rights groups] , "Brownfield Network", February 24th 2006.]


Animal rights terrorism is closely linked to eco-terrorism and the two ideologies share support systems. [ [ Earth Liberation Prisoners Support Network] - eco-terrorist detainies and animal terrorist detainees are not distinguished] The U.S. Justice Department labels underground groups the Animal Liberation Front and the Earth Liberation Front as "terrorist organizations". [ [] [] , "Portland FBI". The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act of the U.S. was created with the goal of targeting people involved in violence, arson, threat or any other forms of terrorism by prescribing several punishments, but it has also had what has been described as 'a chilling effect' on free speech.] [ [ H.R. 4239 [109th] : Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act] , "", 4th November 2005.] A wide variety of arson, property destruction and vandalism, and even attempts at assassination have been linked to various animal rights groups [ [ Animal Rights and Environmental Extremists use intimidation and violence to achieve their ends] ] [ [ Kill scientists, says animal rights chief] ]


Further reading

* [ "A Critique of the Kantian Theory of Indirect Moral Duties to Animals"] by Jeff Sebo, "", undated, retrieved September 4, 2005
* [ "Burning Rage"] by Ed Bradley, CBS "60 Minutes", November 5, 2005
* [ "FBI, ATF address domestic terrorism"] , by Terry Frieden, CNN, May 19, 2005
* [ Animal Liberation Through Trade Unions?] , No Compromise, Issue 15, 1999
* [ Movement Watch] , "Friends of Animals", 2003;Books
*Keith Mann, " [ From Dusk 'Til Dawn: An Insiders View of the Growth of the Animal Liberation Movement] " (Puppy Pincher Press 2007). ISBN 9780955585005
*Ingrid Newkirk, "Free the Animals: The Story of the Animal Liberation Front", Lantern Books, 2000). ISBN 1-930051-22-0
*Peter Singer, "Ethics into Action: Henry Spira and the Animal Rights Movement" (Lanham, MD: Bowman & Littlefield, 1998). ISBN 0-8476-9073-3
*Lawrence Finsen and Susan Finsen, "The Animal Rights Movement in America: From Compassion to Respect" (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1994). ISBN 0-8057-3884-3
*Gary L. Francione, "Rain without Thunder: The Ideology of the Animal Rights Movement" (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1996). ISBN 1-56639-461-9
*Harold D. Guither, "Animal Rights: History and Scope of a Radical Social Movement" (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1998). ISBN 0-8093-2199-8
*James M. Jasper and Dorothy Nelkin, "The Animal Rights Crusade: The Growth of a Moral Protest" (New York: The Free Press, 1992). ISBN 0-02-916195-9

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