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1 J. Animal L. & Ethics 161 (2006)
Animal Welfare: A Political Defense

handle is hein.journals/janilet1 and id is 169 raw text is: ANIMAL WELFARE: A POLITICAL DEFENSE

Defending animal welfare is an increasingly unenviable task for anyone
who desires popularity and credibility within the animal protection
movement. Animal welfare is clearly not as sexy or cutting edge as
animal liberation or animal rights. To talk of animal rights or liberation is
to be perceived as modem, radical and daring. The term animal welfare-
once regarded as far-fetched and revolutionary-is, by contrast, now
perceived as dull, conservative, and inadequate. Part of the problem is that
animal welfare has become a victim of its own success. Everyone now
claims to support it. Even those farming and experimenting on animals-
the enemy in the eyes of animal rights activists-are nowadays apt to
emphasize the importance of animal welfare in their pronouncements, if not
in their practice.' Whatever else it does, the language of animal rights and
liberation enables activists to once again distinguish themselves from those
they seek to criticize.
This Article bucks the trend somewhat by seeking to suggest that
animal advocates reject the concept of animal welfare a little too hastily.
This is not to say that animal welfare can be defended philosophically. In
this author's view, for reasons that will be explained, animal welfare is
philosophically flawed, although this in turn is not the same as saying that
moral egalitarianism between humans and animals should be adopted
instead. It is not the philosophical value of animal welfare that should be
appreciated but its political value. This position will be defended here in
* Dr. Garner is Professor of Politics at the University of Leicester in the United
Kingdom. He has published widely on environmental issues in general and the politics and
philosophy of animal rights in particular. His books include Animals, Politics, and Morality
and Political Animals: The Politics ofAnimal Protection in Britain and the United States.
1 See, e.g., Press Release, Tyson Foods Inc., Tyson Comments on PETA Claims (May
25, 2005),
PressRoom/ViewArticle.aspx%3Fid%3D 1 760+animal+welfare,+tyson&hl=en&gl=us&ct-cln
k&cd=4 (stating that Tyson has had a longstanding commitment to animal welfare focused on
the well-being, proper handling and humane slaughter of all animals used in our food
products, and accusing a PETA-affiliated Tyson employee of violating Tyson's animal
welfare policy).


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