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Let’s Rethink Justice for Animals

Philip McKibbin: It’s only just that we think about animals

Something important is missing from our concept of justice – animals.

This becomes clear when we think carefully about our eating habits. Around the world, 70 billion animals are raised for food each year, and about two-thirds of them are factory farmed. Ignoring their sentience and their suffering, most of us continue to eat them.

Thanks to the work of organisations such as SAFE and Farmwatch, though, cruelty toward animals is getting more attention than ever before; and long-standing organisations like the NZ Vegetarian Society continue to promote ethical living. Opinions are changing.

It’s timely to ask, Where do animals fit into our concept of justice?

In 2015, Max Harris and I sketched the Politics of Love, a values-based politics that affirms the importance of people and extends beyond us to non-human animals and the natural environment. Earlier this year, I wrote an article for The Guardian, suggesting that loving justice might lead to ‘a radical reimagining of justice’. I asked readers, What if we understood the ends of justice as the alleviation of suffering (in all its forms) and the promotion of human dignity?

Now, I want to answer that question. What would loving justice look like?

I’ve had a presentation accepted for next year’s Minding Animals International Conference, entitled ‘Loving Justice and Non-Human Animals’. I’ll be carefully considering how our understanding of justice can better accommodate animal interests. The conference is in Mexico City, and right now I’m raising funds to get there. I have some awesome businesses behind me, including Angel Food and Mezze Bar, who are offering some wonderful rewards to those who donate.

Soon, I’ll be holding a public discussion on justice and animals to generate ideas.

To find out how you can get involved, please visit my PledgeMe page: Let’s Rethink Justice for Animals