I note that at Brock University I devoted two weeks to the question of animal “welfare” laws as a possible part of animal rights legislative reform, in a 4th year seminar course called “Animals and the Law.” First Francione’s position was presented by tabling key chapters from his book, Rain without Thunder, and then the next week, my article, "Animal Rights Law," was one of the readings. Actually, more of his material was tabled than mine since more than a few chapters of his book were presented, whereas my essay was presented as a stand-alone alongside another paper related to animal welfare, but the other paper did not comment on the debate in question although its author was generally amenable to welfarist reforms without mounting a systematic justification for that stance. I ensured a high degree of students doing the readings by the use of a weekly assignment. At the end, I asked out of curiosity if anyone happened to agree with Francione’s view. No one raised a hand. By contrast, the presenter on my essay claimed I “proved” my case. I myself was surprised, and would be more reluctant to use the strong language of “proof.” Students often praise my classes as free forums of discussion where different views are welcome, so I do not think that was a concern in this case. I go to great lengths to impress upon my students that they should not take for granted anything that I say, but check it out for themselves, that I will not give them "the answers," and everyone has their own answers, etc. The situation did not ensue for lack of student assertiveness. Evidently, his arguments evidently just failed to convince, especially in the fuller context of critical analysis that was cultivated in the seminar. I take that as a very promising indication about the success of my arguments respecting illfare-reducing laws in the long-term, and look forward to trying out the same readings on a fresh class of students next academic year for the same course.
FURTHER READING ON ANIMAL RIGHTS INCREMENTALISM
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Sztybel, David. "Animal Rights Law: Fundamentalism versus Pragmatism". Journal for Critical Animal Studies 5 (1) (2007): 1-37.
Short version of "Animal Rights Law".
Sztybel, David. "Incrementalist Animal Law: Welcome to the Real World".
Sztybel, David. "Sztybelian Pragmatism versus Francionist Pseudo-Pragmatism".
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