I’m in Florence at the moment and, when not gawking at the Duomo, am attending the annual conference of the Global Ecological Integrity Group (GEIG). This conference offers a good venue to talk to my fellow enviros about animal issues. The audience tends to be receptive, albeit sometimes skeptical — just the kind of folks I want to reach. Indeed, one attendee told me today that after hearing me speak on ethics and agriculture 3 years ago at this conference, he became a vegetarian.
Today, I spoke on the distorted notion of efficiency within industrial agriculture and the implications of that distortion for a post-industrial risk society. Once again, the questions were thoughtful, probing and rigorous. One questioner, however, was an archetype. Even though my talk was about industrial agriculture, she wanted to talk about animal testing. Then, during the break, she again approached me — this time with the cliched question about what I would do if my child were sick. Would I, she wondered, support animal testing to save his life? I said, “sure.” She looked triumphant until I also said that if my child were sick and someone told me experimenting on her would save his life, I would support that too. The fact that I would do virtually anything to protect my child does not necessarily have any bearing on the morality of my actions.
She was unconvinced. I wonder if anyone has any techniques for reaching out to folks like this. She’s a neurobiologist who conducts animal research because she believes in its necessity. She is utterly certain of the moral rightness of her position. I do not flatter myself that I can convince her of anything but I would like to get her (and others like her) thinking about other points of view.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tagged: animal abuse, animal advocacy, animal ethics, animal law, animal suffering, animal testing, animal welfare, environmental advocacy, environmental law, environmentalism, factory farms, farmed animals, GEIG, Global Ecological Integrity Group, vivisection |