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2.9.06

Speaking Of Animal Rights ...

In the process of writing that last post, an idea occurred to me about an issue I dealt with a month ago: can someone consistently reject meat on animal rights grounds, and oppose animal testing, yet still accept medical treatment that was developed through animal testing. In my previous post, I focused on the relative strength of the boycott effect in the meat vs medicine cases, concluding that the boycott was less likely to reduce the amount of animal suffering in the latter case. But I think there's also a question of differential framing that means the question of boycotts is also less relevant in the medical treatment case. For reasons I won't get into (and don't entirely understand), the use of animals for food is framed as a personal issue, while animal testing is a political one. Food is seen as regulated by individual consumer choice, in which boycotts are a key weapon. Political (in the conventional sense) struggle is limited to the most egregious forms of factory farming, such as chicken debeaking. Change is seen as coming through widespread change in attitudes and habits. On the other hand, animal testing is concieved of as a political struggle, in which the main, and most effective, weapon is agitation for a social/legal decision against the practice. An individual-level boycott is beside the point when you anticipate that the boycotted-against thing will soon be banned. Hence the sunk costs argument will weigh in favor of accepting treatment.

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