Dunayer vs. Davis on Speciesism

Joan Dunayer was not impressed by Karen Davis review of her book, Speciesism and posted a lengthy critique of Davis’ review to animal rights mailing list AR-NEWS.

Dunayer elaborates on her anti-welfarism views,

Similarly, the managing editor of the conservative National Review opposes nonhuman rights but approves of PETA’s asking KFC (formerly Kentucky Fried Chicken) to implement less-cruel slaughter. “Why not ‘gas killing,’ as a gentler alternative to the other stuff?” he writes, calling such a change “just.” Killing innocent beings is far from just, wehther or not they’re gassed. These two men endorse “humane slaughter” campaigns because such campaigns aren’t rights-based. To the contrary, they’re based on violating nonhumans’ rihgt to life. Instead of seeking measures compatible with the attitude that it’s acceptable to kill nonhumans, advocates should consistently work to change that attitude. Without such change, slaughter will go on and on.

Dunayer also challenges Davis’ claim that, “There is absolutely no evidence to support Dunayer’s claim that working for ‘welfarist’ reforms retards liberation.” Dunayer vehemently disagrees,

This is false. In Speciesism I provide evidence such as the following:

1. Switzerland’s elimination of battery cages increased the Swiss egg industry’s profitability and its acceptability to consumers.

2. A 2000 Zogby poll indicated that most U.S. adults feel better about eating animal-derived food if they think the animals were treated “humanely.”

3. Vivisectors and other abusers continually point to “welfarist” laws such as the Animal Welfare Act and Humane Methods of Slaughter Act as evidence that nonhumans are treated “humanely.” These laws, which have failed to protect nonhumans from extreme suffering, give consumers false assurances.

4. As reported by the egg industry itself, “welfarist” campaigns against food-removal forced molting have resulted in the industry’s starting to switch to low-nutrition starvation that will be less offensive to consumers.

To a large extent, Dunayer is correct — the main successes the animal rights movement have had so far are simply animal welfarist improvements, and tend to reinforce animal use rather than lead to animal rights. On the other hand, Dunayer’s liberationist fantasies are also doomed, at least in the United States.


Corrections of Davis’s false and misleading statements in her Specieism review. Joan Dunayer, January 11, 2005.

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