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Research Articles
Published: 2022-10-11

Should the Animal Rights Movement Make Use of Deliberative Activism?

SNSF Senior Researcher, University of Lausanne
Animal rights deliberative democracy deliberative activism moral judgment recognition respect


This paper addresses the question of whether the animal rights movement should make use of what I call “deliberative activism”, i.e., activism based on deliberative processes. To date, animal rights activists rely primarily on non-deliberative activism, such as strikes, protests, boycotts, demonstrations, leafleting, rescue actions, etc. In contrast to such non-deliberative forms of protest, recent work by Robert Garner and Lucy Parry emphasizes the potential benefits of deliberative democratic structures for the animal rights movement. This paper aims to contribute to this endeavor by putting deliberative activism under scrutiny. More specifically, this paper evaluates three proposed benefits of deliberation for the animal rights movement: 1) deliberation can change (moral) minds; 2) deliberation can counter the “ideological hegemony” of the animal industry; 3) deliberation can avoid both alienation of stakeholders and reputational damage to the movement. I argue that whether the animal rights movement can reap these benefits depends to a large degree on whether the deliberative processes in question are designed to support recognition respect, that is, respect for each other as persons.


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