Francione vs. Friedrich

Several years ago I wrote a series of posts countering Gary Francione's opposition to animal welfare legislation (Should Humane Farm Reform Be Opposed and The Thirsty Cow, for example).  The point I made, in various ways, is that someone who recognizes animals as having rights ought to support humane reforms.  Last week I made the argument again (The Rights Argument for Regulation) and now I see this was the subject of a debate between Francione and Bruce Friedrich (of Farm Sanctuary) at a national animal rights conference in June.  Friedrich's case against Francione is masterful. You can watch here.

One of Friedrich's main (and most compelling) points was that in analogous situations involving human beings, activists pursue both reform and basic change.
  • Amnesty International works for better conditions for prisoners on death row (reform), while also working to abolish the death penalty (basic change).  
  • Feminists work for driving rights for women in Saudia Arabia (reform), while also aiming to change the underlying sexist social structures (basic change).
There are lots and lots of examples like this.  Some more that come to mind--
  • There used to be packed orphanages in the UK (and elsewhere) because adoption wasn't legal -- children were consigned to these places with no exit.  Children's advocates worked to make orphanages kinder places (reform) while also working to legalize adoption (basic change).
  • While waiting for child labor to be outright abolished (basic change), you could of course work for shorter working hours (reform).
  • It's perfectly reasonable that anti-slavery abolitionists worked to stop parents and children being separated in auctions (reform), while at the same time working to abolish the whole institution of slavery (basic change).
When we think of these human cases, it's very clear what the victims of these injustices want from us--they want humane reforms and they want abolition of the basic evil involved.  The day to day misery matters to victims, just as the underlying injustice does.  Friedrich says, and I agree:  we ought to see situations involving animals in just the same way.  It's speciesist to do otherwise.

Francione objects that reforms will satisfy the welfare-sensitive consumer, enticing her to buy more animal products, and so creating even more victims.  Friedrich challenges this both on empirical and moral grounds.  He says humane reforms have actually caused a decrease in demand for animal products (he cites this Kansas study*).  But he wisely also objects to seeing this as a decisive issue. 

To avoid speciesism, we have to keep the analogies in mind.  Are we really going to reject prison reforms for fear that voters will become more comfortable with the death penalty? Are we going to oppose shorter working hours for children to avoid postponing the day when child labor is abolished?  Should we let the Saudi Arabian women continue being prohibited from driving to maintain high levels of outrage about basic gender injustice in that society?

No, these choices would obviously be morally atrocious. We can't use victims of injustice, not even for the noble purpose of ending the injustice.  We can't do that to human victims, so why can we do it to animal victims?**

Perhaps the problem is that Francione sees animals (unlike humans) as having just one right--the right not to be treated as a resource.  A veal calf in a narrow stall who can't turn around is treated as a resource. But equally, a veal calf in a group stall who can turn around is treated as a resource.  As far as rights go -- given the way Francione thinks about rights -- there's no progress there.  The calf is a little less miserable, but the rights situation is unchanged.

But this is a very narrow way of thinking about rights.  For one thing, the right not to be treated as a resource surely flows from a more basic right-- perhaps the right not be used solely as a means.  Suppose Amnesty International decides to turn a blind eye to terrible conditions on death row, thinking this will speed abolition of the death penalty.  Prisoners wouldn't be treated as a resource (nobody's going to turn them into dinner), but they would be treated (by AI) as a means.  There's a rights violation in either case.  It's similarly a rights violation to deliberately turn a blind eye to mistreatment of animals in order to lower consumer demand for animal products.

Even that -- the right not to be treated solely as a means --  isn't all there is to it. We think animals shouldn't be treated solely as a means because they are volitional, sentient beings with desires of their own.  What could be more inconsistent with that than tying up or caging animals, making it impossible for them to move?  If animals have rights, liberty rights have to be considered basic. 

So there's a rights argument for animal welfare regulations after all.  There's a rights argument that can hold up even if more liberty for animals meant more demand for animal products from welfare-sensitive consumers and therefore more animals raised and killed for food.


* About the Kansas study.  From this summary, it looks as thought the study lumps together all kinds of "animal welfare media coverage".  This could be coverage of impending welfare regulations like California Proposition 2. It could be coverage of atrocities in a meat-packing plant.  If all this coverage combined lowers animal product consumption, it doesn't follow that coverage of Prop 2 type regulations alone would lower animal product consumption.  That's what Francione contests -- he says Prop 2 type regulations will increase demand for animal products. This study very possibly (I need to read the whole thing) neither confirms nor disconfirms his position. 

**  Would rights have to be respected no matter what -- even if the demand for animal products doubled or tripled after regulations were tightened?  It makes sense to think about it in terms of the human parallels. If working for a reform will double or triple the basic injustice, or postpone rectification of the basic injustice for 100 years, or some such ... well, most rights are "prima facie". Other considerations can trump the obligation to respect them and work for them.  But in such cases, we've got to have good verification of a large negative effect. I don't think we have that in the case at hand.


Rhys said...

That is a smart argument, and I like your elaboration. Francione's style as a philosopher seems to be that he must never budge or revise any of his views, because that would show weakness and his entire's life work would come crumbling down. So obviously he must remain unmoved.

I went to "My Face is On Fire" to see what Mylene's take on this was, since she's very partial to Francione's views. She ran a guest post by someone who naturally thought that Francione was more persuasive, but it didn't address the specific argument that you singled out: http://my-face-is-on-fire.blogspot.com/2013/07/finally-abolitionist-animal-rights-at.html

Jean Kazez said...

GF didn't respond to BF's human rights argument in the session, and also doesn't respond over at Mylene's blog--strange, because that was very compelling stuff. It was especially compelling when he talked about being a prisoner himself and how much he appreciated better welfare, even if being released was the ultimate goal. The stuff about treating animals as individuals, the golden rule, and avoiding speciesism--if I were GF, that's the stuff I would have thought needed a response. That was the philosophical core of BF's argument, so not possible to just ignore!

s. wallerstein said...

Moral purism in politics (animal rights is politics) generally is not successful.

My favorite example of stupid moral purism is the German Communist Party, which faced with the rise of Nazism, refused to ally themselves with the Socialist Party, since that would be to "sell out".

Result: Hitler took power and exterminated both the Communists and the Socialists.

Spencer said...

I agree that BF's human rights argument is compelling, and I'm not sure GF fully understands it.

During the debate, GF responds to the argument with the counter that, unlike animal rights groups, they don't give out awards to dictators, as if that somehow addresses the point about promoting welfare reform in the human rights context. But the most GF's reply could show is that AR organizations ought not praise industries for making small welfare improvements, not that those improvements shouldn't be made. Thus BF's analogy to human rights hasn't been refuted.

Jean Kazez said...

Yes. And then, at some point in the discussion, Friedrich responds to the awards point and says a human rights organization actually did give an award to (maybe it was) Saudi Arabia for reforms. I can't find that point in the video again but it's somewhere in the Q&A. Awards are just "carrot", not 100% approval.

gfrancione said...

Friedrich's argument about Amnesty International fails for several reasons. For one thing, Amnesty International does not give awards or approving labels to exploiters who torture less. Amnesty International does not call the reformed conditions of exploitation "compassionate" or "socially responsible." Amnesty International does not publish a letter signed by leading human rights advocates expressing "appreciation and support" for the "pioneering" methods of torture instituted by dictators who make minor reforms. Peter Singer sent a public letter (that Whole Foods publicized) joined by Farm Sanctuary, PETA, Mercy for Animals, Vegan Outreach, HSUS, and just about every large animal group, expressing "appreciation and support" for the "pioneering" Whole Foods "happy exploitation" program. If you find that sort of thing in any way remotely analogous to what Amnesty International does, you and I have a fundamentally different concept of analogical reasoning.

Rape is a serious problem and a great many rapes involve physical violence that goes beyond the horrible violence of the actual rape. That's a reality and it is going to continue to happen. We won't be able to stop these terrible batteries anytime soon. So, on your line of reasoning, we ought to campaign for "humane" rape. I suggest that we do not do this sort of thing in the human context because we take human interests and human life more seriously. Where humans are involved, we do not, as a general matter, see it as legitimate to pursue lesser intrusions of fundamental interests and rights. That is, however, exactly what we do when nonhumans are involved. And that is a problem of speciesism. You buy into Singer's view that animal life is of lesser moral value. I don't.

Racism? That's a problem and a pretty serious one. And it's not going away anytime soon. So let's have a campaign to tell racist jokes or use racist epithets on Monday.

In any event, if we had a movement that was abolitionist and that promoted veganism as a moral baseline, industry would respond with the types of reforms that are presently being pursued by the welfare groups. That is, industry would eliminate inefficient practices or make changes that would not increase price beyond relevant demand elasticities. Ironically, industry might make more significant changes if faced with a strong movement promoting abolition and veganism rather than one that seeks only to make exploitation more "compassionate" and that can be accommodated fairly easily and without any significant industry changes. The difference would be that animal advocates would not be partners with institutional exploiters and would not be, in effect, purveyors and promoters of "happy exploitation."

Gary L. Francione
Professor, Rutgers University

Spencer said...

Gary Francione,

I don’t believe your response to Friedrich’s argument adequately engages it. Although Amnesty International does not “give awards or approving labels to exploiters who torture less,” the thrust of his argument is that they still advocate for welfare reforms, even though those reforms fall far short of the end goal (e.g., abolition of death penalty), and thus by analogy--applying the golden rule across the species barrier--animal advocates ought to advocate for welfare reforms, even though those reforms fall far short of the end goal (i.e., abolition of animal exploitation). At best, your response of pointing to the fact that AI does not “give awards or approving labels to exploiters who torture less” would only show that FS, MFA, VO, PETA, etc, ought not “give awards or approving labels to exploiters who torture less”; it doesn’t actually refute the point about advocating for welfare reforms. In other words, you have yet to provide an argument showing why, although it’s justifiable to work for welfare reforms in the human context, the reasons for doing so don’t carry over to the non-human context.

Your rape/racism scenarios suffer from the same fundamental flaw: they overlook the fact that, unlike animal exploitation, there are already strong social and legal norms against rape and racism, whereas there are very weak social and legal norms against mistreating and using animals. “Humane rape” campaigns would only weaken norms against rape, and “Racist joke” campaigns would only weaken norms against racism. However, humane labeling and meatless Mondays campaigns would work to build a kinder culture for animals, in a culture that is profoundly unkind to them. So, to my mind, there is a very clear dis-analogy between the situation of rape/racism and animal exploitation.

Thanks for considering my thoughts.

Spencer Lo

Jean Kazez said...


Your response would be on point if somebody had said "Welfare advocates are fine because all around, they operate just like Amnesty International does." But nobody said that--not Bruce, not me.

The AI analogy is being used to show that rights advocates also pursue welfare reforms--in fact, have to do so, if they take individual victims seriously. It doesn't touch the argument at all to say AI operates in some ways differently from HSUS, bestowing "progress awards" (so to speak) in a different way.

As to the rape analogy--

My five analogies show that progressives often work on basic change and welfare reform at the same time. We think this is the right thing to do in all those situations. I don't think those five analogies can be ignored, just because another analogy teaches another lesson. So those analogies need a response.

Likewise, the rape analogy needs a response. I'll put that in a separate comment.

Jean Kazez said...

OK, the rape analogy. I've taken care to construct analogies that share certain features with the animal case.

(1) There is a basic injustice, which is pervasive and very deeply entrenched, so very difficult to change.

(2) There is more potential for changing how the injustice is carried out -- people are less resistant to that sort of change.

I can't even begin to see those two features in rape, (2) being the main problem. You can't separate the compulsion to rape and the compulsion to rape violently. There isn't more potential to control how rape is carried out than to prevent it altogether. Rapists are not amenable to being "reformed" in the way that farmers clearly are, and all the institutions in my examples clearly are.

s. wallerstein said...

Excuse my ignorance, but I'm fairly new to this debate.

Can't animals be of moral value, but of lesser moral value than human beings?

That is, raping a human being is more serious than raping a chicken, but raping a chicken is not good.

Similarly, killing an animal to eat it is not good, but it's a lot more serious to kill a human being in order to eat them.

If that's specieism, so be it.

It just could be that while both racism and specieism are bad, racism is generally worse, just as, to go back to boring, bourgeois conventional morality,
rape is worse than littering, but both are bad and we can tolerate a bit of littering, but there should be zero tolerance with rape.

Finally, as far as I can see, the point is to lessen animal suffering, not to show how morally pure we are and how morally superior we are to bad factory farmers.

Disclosure: I'm a vegetarian, but I increasingly eat vegan meals.

Hans Gutbrod said...

at least part of this discussion has an empirical aspect, rather than an ethical one, on how can we make the biggest difference.

Unfortunately, the entire field of animal advocacy has too little empirical research. We know that nearly half of the US population sees vegetarians favorably. Yet how to convert that broadly favorable attitude towards mainstreaming veg eating is something we understand insufficiently. (See a data summary I put together for HRC here: http://bit.ly/Veg_Favorability.)

Isn't, in some ways, time for an "empirical turn"? Of course I would say that, since it is the line of work that I have been engaged in, but precisely from that point of view I think there are huge unexploited opportunities that the movement has largely missed so far.

Spencer said...

Additionally, I thought Friedrich effectively responded to Francione’s frequently used waterboarding analogy, which always struck me as extremely weak. GF claims welfare improvements such as bigger cages are comparable to putting padding on waterboards, but this comparison makes little sense: except on a very general level, waterboarding does not relate to confinement in, say, a gestation crate at all--one is the experience of drowning, while the other is the experience of enduring forced immobility for long periods of time. Obviously, as Friedrich pointed out, the closer human analogy is extreme human confinement (so extreme that we can’t even turn around), and so we can apply the golden rule and ask: if we were placed under such extreme conditions, would we find the difference between complete immobility and not complete immobility significant? Would we find the difference between being boiled alive and not being boiled alive significant? The list of similar questions go on, and like Friedrich, I think they answer themselves: 'Yes' every time.

Rhys said...

That superficial, evasive responsive that fails to address the salient points is the best Francione can possibly do given the persona he's built for himself. He cannot admit that the Friedrich's point has any merit; his whole philosophy is staked on not giving any ground on that issue. He would lose everything.

Bruce Friedrich said...

Hi All,

Gary asked me to clarify that the Saudi women who praised the govt. for granting them the right to drive and ride a bike did not give them an award. I don't know that it matters (I believe I was replying to the WF letter, which was praising WF for making positive changes for farm animals, which strike me as precisely similar), but Gary thought the difference important and asked that I clarify here.

Also, I do want to say for the record that I think that if someone thinks something is deeply wrong, they are morally obligated to say so. I don't doubt that Gary legitimately believes the things he says, and I think it's both bad form and counter-productive for either side to attack motivations, to insult, etc. Unless we just want to talk to ourselves, we should try to rebut arguments without the insults, IMO.



Jean Kazez said...

Ah, OK, good to know.

Speculating about motivations... yes, not usually a good idea. I tend to moderate in a pretty laissez faire way, or else I would have told a few people (who did discuss motivations) to be more respectful. I think my comment policy is a good thing for people to abide by--"be reasonable, respectful, and relevant". Discussing motivations is none of the above. I have to add that I have noticed many other violations of this (common sense) policy, not all at my blog. People talk too much about credentials, they write people off using labels ("welfarist", "utilitarian"--both used pejoratively), they dismiss people for taking positions they take in good faith. Etc. Etc.

I find it all bizarre...but OK, people care about these things intensely. I guess the friction is partly a result of that.

Anyhow, thanks for the clarification on the award anecdote.

s. wallerstein said...

Maybe this is a stupid question, but when abolitionists compare the treatment of animals to genocide or slavery or rape, aren't they implicitly refering to people's motives?

I mean, when you suggest that the person whom you're talking to is
justifying genocide, you're making a very serious accusation: they justify genocide either unconsciously or wittingly.

Now, I am aware that the abolitionists consider that calling the treatment of animals genocide is rational, but I find that move hard to accept.

Jean Kazez said...

Amos, I don't think there's a general rule that says "never discuss anyone's motives". I think Bruce was referring to a specific comment above, where Gary Francione's character was being discussed.

As to all the talk of rape, the holocaust, slavery, etc, I think these analogies are supposed to help us think about different types of activism (focused on basic justice vs. on welfare). It's another matter what animal consumption is most similar to. To genocide? To rape? To slavery? I personally would reject all three of those analogies.

Rhys said...

Thanks Bruce and Jean, I agree that it's bad form to stipulate motives rather than discuss the actual arguments. I apologize to Gary for the ad hominem.

s. wallerstein said...


Thanks for the clarification.

When would it be correct (within the context of philosophical discussion) to discuss
someone's motives?

Perhaps that topic would make a worthwhile separate post in the future.

Bruce Friedrich said...

I hadn't noticed it before, but there was only one off-issue post on this entire thread, and the person who made it apologized.

That's in stark contrast to the "discussion" at my-face-is-on-fire.

Bravo, people.

Jean Kazez said...

Yes, the "discussion" at MFIOF! I won't be participating in that. After you mentioned me, no doubt you noticed that the moderator commented--

"Bruce messaged me today out of concern that some of the responses to this guest post have been less than civil. I still haven't read through all of them, since I've been busy with work and travel plans, but I've gotta say that when someone cites Jean Kazez as an authoritative critical voice re: abolitionist animal rights that it seems like all gloves are off."

All in one short paragraph, we have total dismissal of me, and we have the idea that merely mentioning me gives everyone the right to have "all gloves off" with you. This is so preposterous it's actually quite funny.

Anyhow--we all have better things to do. Now I will get to some of them!

Vlad said...

I totally agree with Jean in rejecting analogies to slavery, rape, etc. while comparing animal rights movement and other movements.

Also this debate reminds me of the one I saw in the movie "Lincoln" a few months ago where Lincoln has a talk with Stevens about his hard stand on giving slaves equal rights vs trying to abolish slavery first. Lincoln brings up a concept of a True North - the ultimate goal,which is great and noble, but if one stubbornly,literally, follows True North, he or she is bound to end up in the swamp, falling well short of the ultimate goal. Lincoln was able to convince Stevens and the 13th amendment was passed,thus moving things forward...

Stephen said...

In case anyone's curious, or may find it at all useful, here in its entirety is the message I recently submitted to MFIOF! that was judged my rudest yet, too rude to allow there:

Gary, in regard to how liquid eggs fit into overall supply and demand, according to Promar's report prepared for UEP, as of 2008, about 31.5% of table eggs were incorporated in products as liquid eggs and 68.5% went to consumers in shell form.

BTW, in your debate with Bruce the question arose as to whether it would be possible for Californians to import eggs from other states that were produced in conditions that did not comply with Prop 2 and that could undercut the prices of CA-produced eggs that did indeed meet Prop 2 standards. I wondered about that and thanks to a kind Californian now have

a link to the legislation passed and signed into law in 2010
that aims to preclude that. Do you think that'll stand up to challenge?

Thanks, Elizabeth, I appreciate your pity. It is surely well-deserved.

And I commend you for using your resources to support veganism. But can we assume that resources that support animal welfare reforms could otherwise fully be diverted to support veganism? I don't think so. And if not, then under what circumstances, if any, are animal welfare reforms helpful, and under what circumstances are they not helpful?

I'd be interested to see you and Gary and Adam and others here address that question and perhaps develop some criteria.

Jean Kazez said...

Here's another comment she deleted--because it's a rad rude or because you were making a lot of sense? We'll never know, but I do have my suspicions!

Stephen: Ah, Gary, I think you underestimate yourself! I think you are capable of an answer at least as clear as this:

Stephen, you asked me what is my best rough estimate of how many fewer laying hens there will be in California if demand remains constant after implementation of Proposition 2. The fruits of my decades-long reasearch on the economics of farm animal welfare reform are in another room right now, but a google search locates this helpful Powerpoint: "An Economic Perspective on Caged Layer Well-Being Guidelines".

Slide 19 shows a decrease in mortality from 9.1 to 4.8 as square inches of case space per hen increases from 48 to 67 inches and slide 22 shows an increase in eggs produced by each hen from 448 to 482 (7.58%) given the same change in space. But the changes in CA won't be precisely from 48 inches to 67 inches and as a result, the estimate I provide will need to be quite rough.

According to the Ballotpedia page about Prop 2,
"In 2010, J.S. West opened a colony housing system for hens. This colony housing system was the first such hen housing concept to be built in the United States. It provides 116 square inches per hen. J.S. West asserted that its colony housing system was Proposition 2 compliant. The Humane Society of the United States then said that it wasn't, and that in fact, Proposition 2 is 'crystal clear' in its requirement that hens must be housed in 'cage-free environments'."

I'm not especially optimistic, Stephen, that Wayne will win that argument, but the full force of Rutgers Law School's most eminent faculty will stand behind him all the way to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, if you assume hen productivity increases by at least 5-6% and factor in reduced mortality, I'd estimate that to satisfy stable demand after Prop 2, there'd be at least 1 million fewer laying hens at any point in time.

And incidentally the average annual egg consumption by a person in the U.S. is close to the average egg production by a laying hen.

So, by my quick back of the envelope analysis, Prop 2's impact on laying hens is equivalent to 1 million or more Americans going vegan (not even taking into account the additional questionable benefits of 38 million fewer lashes inflicted).

Nevertheless, Stephen, I would urge anyone in a voting booth faced by something like Prop 2 to vote against it, because... because... because I oppose both animal welfare reforms and pro-vegan actions if any of these activities' supporters has ever dressed in public in lettuce or less.

Jean Kazez said...

Tad, not rad.

Stephen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephen said...

Thanks, Jean! I typed "case" when I meant "cage" somewhere in there. And as originally posted there was a sentence at the end where I reiterated that Gary might well have the capacity to create a response rather better that the one I offered as a ghostwriter.

I found value in some previous postings of his such as his formulation: "the abolitionist position maintains that we should not pursue a program of welfare reforms that: (1) do not provide significant increases in protection in any event; (2) further enmesh animals in the property paradigm; (3) are designed to make people more comfortable in continuing to consume animals; and (4) rest on the notion that animal life has a lesser moral value than human life."

And Adam's repsonse to me helpfully emphasized that one should not just consider the potential legislative success of a legislative campaign but also consider with some skepticism whether adopted reforms would be fully and properly implemented and enforced. In respect to Prop 2, in recent days we see the U.S. House passing a Farm Bill that would preempt California's ability to ban imports of eggs produced in conditions that fall short of Prop 2 standards. There had been a more thorough examination of the issue in the LA Times last month.

At the same time, even campaigns that try and fail to win voters' support at the ballot box may still helpfully alter their awareness and behavior.

Jean Kazez said...

Hi Stephen, I saved your comment because it hadn't occurred to me that "quality" and "quantity" were intertwined--better quality life for each chicken might mean a small number of chickens can be raised to produce the same number of eggs. I would not sneeze at methods of lowering the amount of killing/suffering, just because they don't involve people totally rethinking the moral status of animals. For example, I'm all for people reducing animal consumption for green reasons, and green reasons do nothing to challenge the "property paradigm". In fact, if you push veganism on an environmental basis, you send a "property paradigm" supportive message: animals would be OK to eat, if they weren't so damned bad for the environment! But surely we do want the reduction in # of animals killed that you can get from "greens" lowering their animal consumption. If you can get a reduction in # killed by making cages bigger, that is morally significant as well counter-intuitive. So I really appreciated the comment.

I've been trying to find out what animal welfare stuff got passed in the farm bill--haven't gotten hold of that info yet. Thanks for the link.

Stephen said...

I'm glad you liked that, Jean.

I found value in Gary's formulation as a concise, coherent, straightforward
statement of principles, while not myself believing that inflexible
adherence to all of those are necessarily integral to abolitionist pursuits.

They do all seem worthy of serious consideration when weighing the short and
long term implications of campaigns seeking welfare reforms. But I'm with you on this: "I would not sneeze at methods of lowering the amount of killing/suffering, just because they don't involve people totally rethinking the moral status of animals."

Another example: My understanding is that the Humane League sent letters to a bunch of Catholic educational institutions citing compassionate Papal statements and asking them to stop using eggs from caged hens. They were met with remarkable success in that endeavor, at little expense or effort, while presumably not changing the decision makers' views on the relative moral value of humans and other animals.

Tangentially, I'd be curious as to how Gary and those most sympathetic to his style of abolitionist thinking might go about designing successful programs to stop the massive, widespread abuse of animals in wildlife ("pest") control... particularly in respect to commensal rodents. For that matter it'd be great to see more effective welfarist programs of action. Along with maltreatment of fish, horribly cruel wildlife control practices seem one of the most underrepresented areas of interest and action amongst us... it was good, at least, to see that Mary Finelli apparently made a presentation at the conference related to her work starting FishFeel.org.

Jean Kazez said...

Great points, great examples. If you write on/work on animal ethics, let me know--I'd love to read more of your writing.By email, if you prefer.

Rico said...

Do the 5 analogies match the situation with other animals? The rights involved aren't the same.

Other animals don't have the most fundamental right - the right to life. In all of these cases humans already have a general, or in the case of the last example, more limited right to life.

If, for instance, AI worked to improve conditions for prisoners when no right to life for humans in general existed, do their reforms look less plausible?

The fundamental struggle then, would seem to be for the right to life, and once that was achieved, you could work for other reforms.

Similarly, if Saudi women had no right to life, would working for driving rights make much sense?

Likewise human children: if they had no right to life, though adults did, could working to improve conditions in orphanages or for shorter working hours be moving focus away from the key issue, extending the period children have no right to life?

In the last example, while slaves had a limited right to life, it still wasn't the same as other animals, who are routinely killed in far higher numbers.

If they really had zero right to life and were generally killed, rather than being kept alive to work as slaves, would aiming to stop separation of parents and children be an important issue?

There is no effort to alter this separation in the case of other animals. That is, in the case where they have no right to life, even reform advocates recognize that trying to stop separation is pointless.