Over at this blog (see end of comments) Gary Francione has said he's writing an essay tentatively called "The Welfare/Regulationist Approach is Deeply Speciesist." He says he will be done in a few days or next week, by which time I'm not going to be around to read or respond (real life responsibilities are going to get in the way).
The tentative title got me thinking though. It's certainly true that some who pursue a welfare/regulationist approach are speciesist. Suppose you watch video footage of factory farms and slaughterhouses, and you think "Got it! We'll just make the stalls a little bigger and then this will all be OK." If you think that's a sufficient response, you've pretty much got to think "They're just animals" or something a little more sophisticated, but along those lines. Certainly, footage of people being treated in some comparably cruel way would make us feel total horror, and we'd instantly commit ourselves to getting them released. Slow, small welfare changes would seem petty, like a waste of time.
But now, consider all the animal activists who support regulations. They are not in that speciesist state of mind. They are not attending to factory farms and slaughter houses, and thinking "A few changes will make this just fine." They are attending to a much bigger picture. The picture consists of the factory farms and slaughter houses and a wider society where the above speciesist response is very deeply entrenched and nearly universal. "We have to regulate this while also pursuing liberation" isn't a first order response to animal farming, it's a second order response to the way others regard animal farming. Where the first order response is speciest, the second order response is (in my view) just plain realistic.
Ah well, back to other things. I look forward to reading Prof. Francione's essay -- when it's out, and when I'm back at my desk.