Effective animal advocacy: effective altruism, the social economy, and the animal protection movement
Effective altruism is a conceptual approach and emerging social movement that uses data-driven reasoning to channel social economy resources toward philanthropic activities. Priority cause areas for effective altruists include global poverty, existential risks to humanity, and animal welfare. Indeed, a significant subset of the movement argues that animal factory farming, in particular, is a problem of great scope, one that is overly neglected and offers the potential for massive reductions in global suffering. This paper explores the philosophical and methodological tenets of these “effective animal advocates,” offering empirical qualitative insight into their motivations and perspectives. The work also considers the implications of the effective altruists’ entrance into the arena of animal advocacy, taking note of how various factions within both the effective altruist and animal protection movements have received their conceptual and practical interventions. The research highlights several potential contributions of the effective animal advocates, as their commitment to evaluate and amplify pragmatic solutions to the problems of animal suffering has the opportunity to shift institutional and consumer behaviors in ways the animal protection movement has struggled to do in the past. At the same time, key issues related to the community’s research rigor and measurability biases, its lack of demographic diversity, and its tendency to valorize corporate-driven technological solutions open it up to criticism from internal and external detractors alike.
KeywordsEffective altruism Animal protection Animal rights Animal welfare Factory farming Social economy Philanthropy Agrifood movements Social innovation Social entrepreneurship
Animal charity evaluators
Effective animal advocacy
Effective animal advocates
Importance, tractability, and neglectedness
This research was partially funded by a Fordham Faculty Research Grant. The author thanks the research participants for sharing their perspectives and acknowledges the editor and anonymous peer reviewers for their constructive feedback.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The author was awarded a Grant from the Animal Charity Evaluators’ Animal Advocacy Research Fund during the review process. However, receipt of funding did not have an impact on the substance of the research, since the paper was written before the request for funding was submitted.
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