Incrementalist Animal Law: Welcome to the Real World

Historically, U.S. rights legislation is all incrementalist as opposed to anti-incrementalist.

Background for this Article

This informal study is a history paper, outside my area of expertise, which is moral philosophy. Nevertheless, it is attracting much interest, and Bruce Friedrich of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has publicly proclaimed it to be "essential reading" on a key question of animal law: Should we aim for anti-cruelty laws that fall short of animal rights?

I look at the history of humans' property status, showing that it never applied to most oppressed humans. In any event, even though it did apply to African Americans and women, all legislative progress for these people was in the form of incrementalist laws. This is shown by consulting the historical record. It has stirring implications for animal law today. I also redefine the terms of this debate as animal rights incrementalism versus animal rights anti-incrementalism. Some new thoughts are presented, as well, regarding the objection that anti-cruelty laws will make people too "complacent."

The paper is available for pdf download.