KevinWatkinson

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Hit Based Giving for Global Development

Then it ought to be the case that they are addressed somewhere by the relevant organisations.

Will companies meet their animal welfare commitments?

Shaming tactics are used, but the issue i'm raising here is how they impact relations between the campaigning organisations and the businesses themselves. If it is the case that relations are impacted negatively through the "stick" then this is going to create issues going forward if organisations want to be part of business decision making or advisory groups.

In relation to McDonald's the line from mainstream organisations has been to celebrate their commitments and their one or two veg offerings, until it seems the moment they go back on a pledge (though we don't really know how this compares to what else they are planning to do). It seems a lesser matter compared to the various reasons people boycotted McDonald's over McLibel. So I would think boycotting and the THL style of McCruelty campaigning ought to be a last resort because it appears to demonise the business over this one issue, but it seems to me that isn't a very compelling issue on its own. I guess we'll see what changes, and i'm sure there are many different tactics being used, but likely this will attract the most attention and it seems this would broadly be supported by the Open Wing Alliance. So it isn't as if business would consider it just the approach of one organisation.

I also think it would be nice if there is broader consultation with the animal movement before some decisions are made. It is much easier to get people on board if different perspectives are openly included in decision making, and even if there was a unilateralist decision made on this (as wouldn't be unusual) at least different perspectives would have been heard.

Will companies meet their animal welfare commitments?

Traditionally the approach taken by welfare seems to have been corporate engagement and building positive relations around "win wins", so a commitment in exchange for good publicity upfront.  So i'm not really sure about a shift toward “shaming” strategies as an enforcement approach, i'm uncertain that enough power exists within the welfare movement to use this particular tactic, whilst going forward it seems uncertain how it would impact relations with large businesses.  If for instance The Humane League pursue a shaming campaign against McDonald’s now, then how is that going to impact their work with that business in the future?  Presumably there will be other welfare campaigns to consider that McDonald’s will need to sign up to?  

Whilst it is also worth noting that McDonald’s and other large fast food enterprises are under pressure from an environmental perspective, and it seems that slow growing chickens are likely to exacerbate that particular issue, so i'm not sure whether competing demands might also be behind some of the reluctance here.  It seems to me the Chicken Sustainability Advisory Council is partly constructed to consider these issues, and it is worth noting that Temple Grandin is part of that set up.

I would also be concerned about how some of the welfare commitments are being marketed, for instance the Better Chicken Commitment talks about choosing "happy chickens" which seems disingenuous. This is one of the key disagreements that rights advocates have with welfare approaches, in that they fail to represent what actually happens in the process, relating only to "welfare" designated "improvements" rather than describing the reality of animal farming.

Farmed Animal Funders Custom Shallow Review: On Selecting Funding Strategies In General And On Focusing Funding On Open-Access Scientific Research For Plant-Based Alternatives

I think the diversifying approach has been somewhat underexplored, and up to now many of the recommendations have involved filling capacity for welfarism / general advocacy / some for product promotion.  This has caused some issues for diversity because the preferred approach has given weight to certain aligned organisations in the movement space.  This has sometimes been justified as “effectiveness” but I think in reality it has disproportionately pressed smaller organisations and allowed some larger groups and their associated ideologies to dominate.  This wouldn’t be important in terms of considering the differences between a cat rescue and farmed animal advocacy, which really don’t interact in any meaningful way, but in terms of the farmed animal movement space, particularly in terms of different worldviews or moral theories that are often overlooked then it is certainly important.

I would welcome more consideration of this area, and believe that safeguarding diversity has significant value in terms of maintaining a healthy movement / maintaining a sense of competition rather than co-operation among a small group of in-group leaders.  For one thing I believe it would be useful for ACE to split its recommendations into different areas (maybe around general / wild / welfare / rights / vegan / veg / social justice / product), and that the Open Philanthropy Project ought to diversify its approach from being centred around conventional welfarism / HSUS.  I think even with EA Funds there are issues with taking a default approach too closely aligned to “pragmatic” ideology over a more diversifying approach.  In some ways this is the type of consideration that ought to have taken place at the foundation of EAA, but I'm not aware of whether those discussions took place or how they played out, instead i get the impression it was all a bit rushed.  They are however long overdue, but I think partly because people think they are time consuming / would potentially disrupt present donation strategies / disrupt the political state of EAA they are neglected.  

An integrated model to evaluate the impact of animal products

“The EA community should not push veganism except insofar as a milk exception is considered weird and difficult to communicate.”  

This could be a utilitarian position within effective altruism but it wouldn’t reflect a rights position.  Overall i don't think EA could take a position of not pushing veganism.  Not that it pushes veganism anyway, and never has done, instead the preference has been for the “rational pragmatism” of Shapiro, Friedrich and Ball. 

If veganism were to be promoted then it would challenge the conventional position of welfarism favoured by most leading utilitarian EAs.  Whilst we could point to some veg promotion this tends to exist in opposition to “extreme” rights views of non-exploitation and is viewed as compatible with welfarism, indeed one way to ensure that welfare standards aren’t violated is to have less domesticated animals to violate. 

I think even in terms of where we might argue that dairy is necessary for nutrition, then rights advocates would look to promote alternatives and address inequalities in terms of accessibility to plant based nutrition.  Also worth noting that Open Philanthropy funded charities RSPCA and CIWF have been promoting rose veal as a way to discourage farmers from killing calves at birth or live exporting them. 

Overall though cross-price elasticity would seem interesting for rights advocates in terms of how it might affect a shift to plant based products or alternatively toward animal products (if people are of the mind they are merely consuming products).  Though as a general matter rights advocates are addressing cultural speciesism rather than nudging consumer behaviour within systems of exploitation.     

Animal Welfare Fund AMA

Given the EA animal welfare fund appears oriented around two organisations (Effective Giving also utilises research from Open Philanthropy and ACE to find exceptional opportunities to do good), what efforts are being made to include different value systems and perspectives that are found in effective altruism more generally?  And how ought those perspectives be valued?

What are the similarities and differences between the new ACE fund and the EA animal welfare fund?  

It also seems to me that some of the organisations that receive EA funds could graduate to multi-year funding from Open Philanthropy.  So i wonder what progress is being considered there?

Non-Consequentialist Considerations For Cause-Prioritzation Part 1

Non-consequentialist considerations aren't really part of animal welfare. They aren't taken seriously as part of the Animal Welfare Program at the Open Philanthropy Project and neither are they factored into the work that ACE does in relation to "top" or "standout" charities. It's difficult to wonder about how rights advocates would think about prioritisation when they wouldn't agree with how effective altruism has constructed "effective animal advocacy". To consider how non-consequentialists would think about different causes we would first need to think about how they would conceptualise those areas and what they would do. However, to do so would mean undertaking a review of the foundational work of "effective animal advocacy" in order to reflect on those considerations. Up to now there has been little institutional appetite to prioritise consideration of rights views, perhaps because they are considered too difficult and controversial to deal with, and it would certainly challenge the conventional EAA epistemology.

The greater the priority EA has placed on animal welfare as it stands, the more marginalised rights views have become, so it would be somewhat absurd for rights advocates to argue for prioritisation of animal welfare, indeed if those views are going to be further marginalised by the comparative weight of Open Philanthropy resources (for instance) then deprioritisation ought to be emphasised. Though given how little value rights views have in EAA, it would be a largely meaningless act.

2018 ACE Recommendations

In terms of cost effectiveness it's relevant to consider that ProVeg set up a UK operation despite the organisational space appearing relatively saturated in the UK. It's an interesting situation because as far as i can tell The Vegan Society has largely been directed on ProVeg grounds since co-founder of ProVeg International Jasmijn de Boo was CEO of The Vegan Society (2011-2016), it seems to me it has largely continued along those lines. I'm also not sure what level of consultation took place in relation to VeggieWorld London, the veg festival space isn't operated by the larger conventional organisations, so i would wonder what sort of consultation took place there or whether it was something more speculative.

Separate to that there remain issues as to why ProVeg (at least Tobias Leenaert, Melanie Joy and Sebastian Joy) set up the ideological ProVeg organisation Centre for Effective Vegan Advocacy (CEVA) under Beyond Carnism rather than ProVeg or VEBU (as it was formerly known). This organisation is supported by several of the other top and standout charities and seeks to influence the animal movement more broadly. There is no assessment of the impact of this organisation on EAA generally or the animal movement.

I would also disagree that ProVeg is medium to long term. It's ideologically short term around promoting "veg" and focussing on "mainstreamness". It doesn't reflect or promote a broader and inclusive perspective in relation to speciesism or animal rights. ProVeg seems to believe it is too soon to talk about such issues, so focusses on short term gains (in a de-politicised way), whilst stressing the medium to long term approaches more commonly found in the grassroots animal rights movement. But there has been no consultation here.

I have more to say about how ProVeg functions within the broader animal movement, but these types of issue aren't given much weight in decision making terms. Something which in my view functions to undermine the recommendation process. Overall i remain sceptical of the value of a "top" and "standout" charity system and would favour compartmentalising recommendations in relation to the approach of organisations, and then making meaningful comparisons between those organisations, whilst weighting the different compartments. There isn't really any discussion about the utility of different systems of recommendation as far as i can tell. Presumably this happened originally with 80,000 hours, but i'm not sure if it has been reviewed.

Outreach to Farmers

The Vegan Society has its Growing Green campaign which springs to mind. There is also an article here about how Oatly helped a farmer shift more of his oat crop from animal feed to Oatly, so that is quite interesting from a business perspective and the article also discusses some of the tensions between Oatly and animal farmers. Some of these issues were also covered in the Rotten series that netflix produced, one of the episodes looked at chicken farming in the USA and how the industry functions, so that may be interesting if you haven't seen it. But i agree this type of approach doesn't receive as much attention as it could.

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