Social norms and farm animal protection

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Social change is slow and difficult. Social change for animals is formidably slow and difficult. Advocates and scholars alike have long tried to change attitudes and convince the public that eating animals is wrong. The topic of norms and social change for animals has been neglected, which explains in part the relative failure of the animal protection movement to secure robust support reflected in social and legal norms. Moreover, animal ethics has suffered from a disproportionate focus on individual attitudes and behavior at the expense of collective behavior, social change, and empirical psychology. If what we want to change is behavior on a large scale, norms are important tools. This article reviews an account of social norms that provides insights into the possibility and limitations of social change for animals, approaching animal protection as a problem of reverse social engineering. It highlights avenues for future work from this neglected perspective.
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First archival date: 2018-10-31
Latest version: 2 (2018-11-20)
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