Lee Hall argues in On Their Own Terms: Bringing Animal-Rights Philosophy Down to Earth
for a vegan world, in which all animals roam free. Her perception of the central problem in animal/human relations is that humans exercise dominion over animals. Her strategic approach is "abolitionist, meaning that she believes every campaign activity should work toward the ultimate goal...
In Hall's view, animal captivity should only be regulated in a manner that proceeds toward ending it. Though many animal advocates might agree, reality is that this seriously constrains and perhaps entirely precludes pursuing many reforms that might significantly reduce animal suffering.
Hall is not insensitive to this conflict. Much of On Their Own Terms considers it, often explaining why her employer, Friends of Animals, frequently opposes the campaigns and views of the majority of animal protection societies.
... All animals would be free-living animals in a society that accepts animal rights, so there is every reason for the advocate to appreciate their autonomy rather than remove it."
Hall accepts--and advocates--surgically sterilizing pets and feral cats. But, though advocating morally based veganism as central to resolving most social, economic, and environmental problems, she questions both pursuit of personal purity at the expense of larger goals, and the whole notion of keeping pets. "Today, we can find 'vegan horse riding boots' advertised, Hall writes. "Is the material the big question here? We'll ask about the customs that put the bodies of horses under our behinds. Similarly, the idea of vegan cat food only looks at the surface issue: the components of the product. Is it our role to press cats into becoming herbivores? Our real concern is whether the very concept of pet cats makes ethical sense. If we can't bring these matters up with other vegans, then maybe we are singularly focused on ingredients at the expense of the overall picture of our interactions with animals."
Hall does not reject caregiving as a part of animal advocacy, at least in the here and now. "Animal autonomy does need defending, and dependent animals do need caregiving, Hall accepts. "Yet it's worth noting that a vegan, by being vegan, spares more animals in a year than most any sanctuary in the world can take in."
This is Bringing Animal-Rights Philosophy Down to Earth. So is Hall's approach to protecting wild horses: "If we want to spare free-roaming horses from being rounded up and auctioned off, the answer cannot be limited to closing horse slaughtering plants.
Confronting slaughter makes sense, but as part of a broader perspective. In the U.S., campaigners have allowed the public to become outraged over the idea that horses are the wrong animals to eat, Hall writes. "If Italians do think eating horse meat is proper, and U.S. residents continue to eat the flesh of pigs and cows, the argument becomes on some level one of cultural superiority. Only if the demand for the closure of horse slaughter operations comes as part of a whole vegetarian view is it consistent, respectful, and sensible."
Hall succeeds as well in Bringing Animal-Rights Philosophy Down to Earth in her discussion of campaign tactics. "Attempting to design a campaign or community around a regular diet of blood and every imaginable suffering, she writes, "probably won't attract most healthy people to our cause. That reality is often forgotten when groups excuse sensationalism, sexism or any kind of insensitivity to human experiences by insisting such advertising brings a lot of attention, and thus supporters. We have no way of measuring how many people that insensitivity chases away from the same cause."... --Merritt Clifton. Animal People October --VegNews April 2011
Attorney Lee Hall s On Their Own Terms: Bringing Animal-Rights Philosophy Down to Earth is one part study guide, one part vitamin pill for anyone with an interest in assisting animals, or understanding those of us who do. It s that rare book that is simultaneously compelling narrative and reference-worthy, and will be returned to again and again. --VegNews April 2011