197Joined Sep 2014


If there were cost-efficient leverage points, it might be worth investing some amount of money and effort in.

A non-exhaustive list of semi-conjoint reasons:

  • One believes abortion is a grave moral wrong and a lot occur each year.
  • One doesn't believe abortion is a grave moral wrong, but assigns some weight to the view's correctness. Even assigning a 10% chance to the view's correctness still means a lot is potentially at stake.
  • There might be relatively easy ways to make a difference and have other positive, follow-on effects. For example, male contraceptives might make a big difference in reducing unintended pregnancies and my understanding (a few years old) is that there aren't many funders of relevant research. (I recognize that some people argue that the follow-on effects of other contraceptives like the pill are not fully positive and some believe they may even be negative.)
  • Abortion is ridiculously polarizing and seems to crowd out discussion of other important issues in politics. Maybe reducing its salience would help increase the ability to focus on other issues?
  • Obtaining an abortion imposes greater and greater costs in the US (financially, in time required, psychologically, health risks) as restrictions are rolled out.
  • The strategies engaged in by many pro-life advocates seem unlikely to significantly reduce abortion rates.
Answer by jasonkOct 05, 202270

Has anyone associated with EA ever looked for leverage points for reducing the rate of abortion?

(I believe the answer is no, or at least it hasn't been published publicly.)

> Another possibility is that the industry is simply run into the ground through costly welfare reforms and competition through alternatives. Maybe this wouldn't remove all animal exploitation, and some animal products would still be demanded as a luxury good, but it would seem pretty significant if the reform path way could bring us that far, would you agree?

I agree that would be significant. I suppose I remain skeptical that costly welfare reforms are realistic and will go very far.


Thanks for explaining your points further. I appreciate the exchange!

Thank you for encouraging me to go back and re-read. I had missed several of your points when skimming yesterday.

I recall Erik Marcus making the case for what I believe he called "dismantlement theory" in his book "Meat Market" (2005). He essentially says that animal protectionists should engage in welfare campaigns that incrementally make animal use more expensive until it's discontinued.

To restate your description of the reform pathway, I believe you're saying that welfare campaigning could continue up to a point and then transition to asking for outright bans or rights recognition.

The abolitionist will argue that that the transition is not morally implied by animal protectionism. But I think you'd say that it is, provided that the continued animal use still involves a "significant amount of suffering"? I guess the thought is that there's a point where further welfare improvement (via cage size, enrichment, etc.) is no longer possible and that at this point animal protectionism will advocate for non-use, rather than continuing to advocate for further welfare improvements? I'm curious if there's any precedent for this. Assuming not, I'm curious what a concrete example of a transition would look like - what do we imagine the pathway actually looking like for egg laying hens for example.

Further the abolitionist will argue that animal protectionism is not practically conducive to the transition. So long as animal protectionism has reinforced the practice of animal use (morally, legally, institutionally), the paradigm of sufficiently humane animal use will persist. Animal protectionism will have to become something entirely other than the animal protectionism as it exists today to make the transition. In terms of precedent for this, I'm thinking of anti-abortionists who had advocated for incremental changes to abortion practices (waiting periods, different practices, clinic requirements) switching to advocacy for bans. While in such a case, at least some activists seem capable of the transition, it's less clear that a recognizable segment of the public is willing to follow suit (looking at polling).

This leaves me less optimistic about the reform/ask strategy and much more optimistic about a strategy which involves technological changes (i.e., substituting animal use) and moral persuasion around non-use to reinforce the switch.


In terms of pathways to ending animal use, I believe the strongest abolitionist argument against animal protectionism is that welfare campaigning doesn't in theory or practice seem to lead to non-use. Rather, at best, welfare campaigning leads to use that involves less suffering per animal, while potentially having negative, unintended impacts (the kind pointed at by Francione). I don't believe the article addresses this argument.

I applaud the discussion of this important topic.

I corresponded with the author while he wrote it. He's a very interesting, kind, funny, and motivated person.

Maybe interesting to you: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/r2Sw6fFYNy8PPRiAH/evaluating-communal-violence-from-an-effective-altruist

If you don't feel financially secure, it's likely going to affect your productivity a lot. Financial issues affect one's mental health, relationships, children, etc.

In my own experience, as I've gotten older, I've come to appreciate the importance of financial security much more than when I was young, in particular to being able to make a sustainable impact and a bigger impact in the future.

Hi George,

These are interesting ideas generated from your first-hand experience.

Have you already tried contacting The Good Food Institute (https://gfi.org/contact/)? They have a lot of resources and advice to offer entrepreneurs in the alternative protein space.

Does The Pledge include not eating or "having drinks" at non-vegan establishments?

I'm interested, because I'm wondering if The Pledge is concerned with (a) normalizing patronage of non-vegan restaurants and/or (b) paying money to restaurants whose business model is premised on the exploitation of animals.

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