Philosophers Against Factory Farming – A Fundraiser Competition


Last year, a group of graduate students at Rutgers set up a fundraising competition for philosophy departments to support the Against Malaria Foundation. It raised nearly $60,000. This year, the same group of students has set up a new fundraising competition, Philosophers Against Factory Farming.

The competition is between philosophy departments. Anyone can donate to an existing team or set up a fundraising page for their department here (there are more detailed instructions at the bottom of this post).

To encourage new departments to compete, two Rutgers graduate students (Eli Shupe and Ben Bronner) are generously donating $50 to each team who didn’t participate last year.

The competition will support the work of The Humane League. The organizers of the fundraiser write:

The Humane League (THL) fights factory farming by persuading individuals and organizations to adopt behaviors and policies that reduce farmed animal suffering. THL has a very good claim to being among the best animal advocacy organizations in the world. They are the only organization to have been rated a top charity by independent research organization Animal Charity Evaluators during every period of its existence. THL is committed to evidence-based advocacy, regularly undertaking and publishing research through Humane League Labs, to identify and act on best practices in animal advocacy.

You can read more about their efforts at the fundraising page.

Here are instructions about how to create a team for your department:

  1. Go to the Philosophers Against Factory Farming fundraising page.
  2. Click on ‘Set Up Your Own Fundraiser’ (the big grey button on the right side of the screen)
  3. You will see a pop-up box with two options: ‘Join a Team’ or ‘Start Your Own Fundraiser’. Click ‘Start Your Own Fundraiser’
  4. You will get a pop-up box asking you to sign up, either with Facebook or by setting up your own account (the usual: name, email, and password).
  5. Once you have done that, you will get a page titled ‘Create Your Own Fundraiser’. Under ‘Fundraiser Title’, write your department’s name. Feel free to write your own description or copy the description we have in the main event page in ‘About Your Fundraiser’.
  6. Next you will see a page titled ‘Add a photo’. We suggest using your university’s logo. You can also do this later.
And here are instructions about how to donate to a team of your choice:
  1. Go to the Philosophers Against Factory Farming fundraising page.
  2. Click your team’s icon.
  3. Once you get to the team’s page, click ‘Donate Now’ (the top red button on the right side of the screen)
  4. Fill in the amount you want to donate, and whether you want your name and amount to be public.
  5. In the next page, fill in your card details. We recommend pressing ‘edit’ in front of ‘So 100% of your donation goes to the charity’ and setting it to ‘$0 I don’t want to cover my charity’s fees’. It’s in everyone’s interest for people who donate not to increase their donation to cover the website’s fees: “If all your donors cover the fees, you’ll have cost-free fundraising. If your donors don’t cover the fees so that you’re getting $97 (for the Tre) or $95 (for the Fiver) out of every $100 raised, we’ll cut you a check for the difference.”. In short, not covering their fees means Crowdrise keeps less of our money.
  6. Donate!

The results and winners will be announced here on Daily Nous later this month.

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dmf
dmf
3 years ago

do they offer an economically viable alternative for farmers to adopt?Report

Andrew Sepielli
Andrew Sepielli
Reply to  dmf
3 years ago
dmf
dmf
Reply to  Andrew Sepielli
3 years ago

so that’s a no?Report

Nick
Nick
Reply to  dmf
3 years ago

I think that’s a: “Do you wish we offered back employment to anyone ever benefiting from any wrongful industry?” If the answer is yes, we’d like to know why you think 1. anyone, especially future potential job seekers whose identities may not yet be determined, should be entitled to working in wrongful industries; or 2. the marginal economic benefits of maintaining these industries compared to alternatives outweigh the costs imposed on animals, humans (including workers, farmers and the global poor) and the environment. If the answer is no we’re waiting for a relevant difference between the cases.

Then you can come back with your sarcasms so we can all laugh together.Report

dmf
dmf
Reply to  Nick
3 years ago

just noting the economic/political realities in places like Iowa where I live, not sure what yer damage is and not really interested in getting caught up in it, more generally if one is interested in making differences that make a difference I would think some wrestling with the conditions on the ground might be in order. Report

Nick
Nick
Reply to  dmf
3 years ago

Oh come on, really? Report

Tom
Tom
Reply to  dmf
3 years ago

Don’st worry. The humane league is so watered down in their it won’t ever seriously challenge animal production.Report

Ben
Ben
Reply to  dmf
3 years ago

First, The Humane League is presently focused on ending the most inhumane ways in which farm animals are treated, which is compatible with farmers continuing to raise animals and sell them for profit. Second, the injustice of a practice is not overturned by the fact that the practice is more profitable — even much more profitable — than alternatives.Report

Tim O'Keefe
Reply to  dmf
3 years ago

The way to address this worry is to support a dependable safety net, strong educational and job-training systems, and other policies that will help workers across the board deal with the fallout from economic shifts, as some industries rise and others fall, some areas of the country prosper while others decline, etc.

The way not to address this worry is to eat a 20 piece Chicken McNugget meal for dinner each night and otherwise help prop up demand for meat produced by factory farms.Report

Thinker
Thinker
3 years ago

To be fair to dmf, I don’t think it’s far-fetched to say something like “small, local, ethically inclined farms are an alternative that are worthy of support”. As opposed to “persuading individuals and organizations to adopt behaviors and policies that reduce farmed animal suffering” (from the Philosophers Against Factory Farming fundraising page) or, as Andrew seemingly does above, telling people they ought to eating meat, it might be beneficial to pursue the following line of reasoning:

If abstaining from the meat market hurts small, local, ethically inclined farms much more than it hurts Tyson chicken and supporting and increasing demand for small, local, ethically inclined farms is a better way of hindering factory farming (and consequently harm to animals) than abstaining from the meat market (because, presumably, a greater demand for small farms and their goods would allow them to better compete cost-wise with factory farms and thus take more business away from them — but I’m no economist), then it might be a good idea to focus on supporting small, local, ethically inclined farms and farmers rather than trying to persuade factory farms to change their practices or trying to tell/prove to everyone that they should stop eating meat.

Just my $0.02.Report

Nick
Nick
Reply to  Thinker
3 years ago

The problem is, “ethical” animal ag is a niche market, affecting a small number of animals and consumers. If it were at scale, it would cease being as “ethical” as we wish, simply as a result of market constraints. Meanwhile, even incremental reforms of factory farming can affect a disproportionate number of actual animals, while decreasing meat consumption does, if successful (i.e. widespread enough), prevent large numbers of horrible lives. Plus it’s unclear why people working on small, local, ethically inclined farms could not work in the non-animal-based sector, but that’s another question.

Jus my $0.02Report

Ben
Ben
Reply to  Thinker
3 years ago

Organizations like THL have had great success in persuading big companies to change their practices, though. So I think the burden of proof is on those who think that supporting local farms would be more effective.Report

Andy Lamey
Reply to  Thinker
3 years ago

I’m not aware of any empirical evidence to support Thinker’s speculation above about the best way to reduce harm to animals. I am not sure why Thinker asks us to take such speculation seriously without presenting any such evidence him or herself.

I am aware of ample evidence that historically, the biggest changes on behalf of farm animals have been made by people “trying to persuade factory farms to change their practices.” For example, Peter Singer has written a book about the central role his former student Henry Spira played in getting McDonald’s and other major fast-food chains to introduce serious animal welfare standards. Interestingly, Spira himself did not eat meat, and Singer’s portrait suggests that this was a key reason why he was so effective. Spira typifies a longstanding pattern of people who give up meat: they stop feeling complicit with animal agriculture, and so historically have been much more comfortable speaking out in favour of reforming it. Of course it is conceptually possible for someone to endorse abolishing factory farms while consuming their products, but historically, the most dedicated and effective voices have been vegetarians and vegans. The historical record therefore suggests that if we are really serious about getting rid of factory farming, we will try to create as many Henry Spiras as possible, and so will try to “prove to everyone that they should stop eating meat” after all.

Singer’s book is called *Ethics into Action* and will be of interest to anyone who wants to know more about what forms of advocacy have made a difference for animals. It will also be of interest to anyone interested in real-world cases of “analytic” philosophy contributing to social reform (in addition to opening Spira’s eyes to animal issues, Singer was involved in the negotiations with McDonald’s). Report

Ryan
Ryan
3 years ago

As always, there are wrinkles. But the reasons to believe factory farming is seriously morally objectionable are as strong, or stronger, than our commonly accepted reasons to believe many other things are obviously seriously objectionable.

Those who focus on the wrinkles usually come across as obstinate, not thoughtful. Report

Tim Hsiao
3 years ago

I think I’ll save my money and spend it on some Chick-Fil-A later.Report

Nick
Nick
Reply to  Tim Hsiao
3 years ago

Tim Hsiao, always here to troll.Report

Brian
Brian
Reply to  Tim Hsiao
3 years ago

I just read one of your papers the other day for my animal ethics grad seminar (optional reading). I know this is an utterly pointless comment, but this is very amusing and coincidental from my perspective. Given your views on moral status your comment is fitting.Report

Your Middle Eastern colleague
Your Middle Eastern colleague
3 years ago

I didn’t want to be a jerk, so waited for the campaign to end. But wanted to note that sometimes the expressive function of the “good” you choose to do makes you a jerk:

1. Your brother and his wife both lose their jobs and house, and they don’t have money to feed their children. You are responsible for what happened to them because you sent your 10 children to live with them, without even asking if they’re OK with that. You, however, find it most urgent to donate money to the Humane society, because you find animals cute, or you think global warming is going to cause harm to more people down the line. Your brother and his wife are right to think that you’re a jerk who takes Peter Singer way too seriously.

2. According to the UNHCR, there are about 13 million refugees just from Syria. Your country is responsible for the crisis in the middle east, because of an illegal military invasion that destabilized the region. You, however, find it most urgent to donate money to the Humane society, etc etc.

Report

Nick
Nick
Reply to  Your Middle Eastern colleague
3 years ago

Of course you donated money to your brother and his wife and refugee aid programs, did you? Of course, too, people who donate to animal charities (by the way, here it’s the Humane League, not the Humane Sty) don’t give a damn about their families and refugees. Surely no one has ever given to multiple causes and doing so given more overall than those who complain about priorities.

Where is anyone suggesting that we divert major resources from 1 and 2 exclusively toward the Humane League? Where is anyone suggesting that 1 and 2 are not good reasons to give less—or nothing at all—to the Humane League than in other circumstances?

Of course one can be a jerk while giving away to supposedly do the most “good”. No one could reasonably deny that. But what’s with the false dichotomies?Report

Your Middle Eastern colleague
Your Middle Eastern colleague
Reply to  Nick
3 years ago

These are graduate students who are going on and on in their Facebook pages about how they’re going to eat less food for a few months, because they gave a lot of money to the Humane League (which is importantly very different from Humane Society!). Sure, there isn’t a conceptual inconsistency between giving to both charities. But resources are limited. Especially our resources as graduate students. These kids decided to give their limited resources to animal blah blah while this s**t is happening in the Middle-East because of what their country has done to the Middle-East. These kids have made this their cause to promote this cause, and because of that they *are not* promoting the other cause (sure, they *could* be promoting both causes — but they are not). Report

Nick
Nick
Reply to  Your Middle Eastern colleague
3 years ago

Many of these kids have spent at the very least hours thinking carefully about these issues. They might still be mistaken, but most of them have concluded they are using their money more effectively. If they knew of a tractable, cost-effective way to address “this s**t* in the Middle East—and again, many of them have thought about it—they would probably promote the cause too. Again, you don’t know that they don’t. So let me ask, what exactly do you suggest they do regarding the Middle East. Surely if you think resources are limited and could be used differently you must know how to use it differently. Report

Your Middle Eastern colleague
Your Middle Eastern colleague
Reply to  Nick
3 years ago

I’m willing to assume that I would be using my money more “effectively” if I give it to Humane League instead of helping the refugees. But that would be like giving the money to Humane League instead of giving the money to my brother — I would be ignoring my direct responsibility in bringing the bad fortune to my brother.

Your country is directly responsible for what’s happening in the middle east, and because of that you have a direct responsibility to take care of these people. Of course, it would be foolish to give your money to an organization that completely wastes it. But that is not often the case. There are plenty of ok organizations helping the refugees the best they can. The Islamic Relief USA is doing a good job, and they know the region. There are some easy to find guides too; https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/your-money/refugee-organizations-support.html

Of course all of this is just charity — we could be doing other things with our politics, too. But I assumed that we’re talking about charity here..Report

Derek Shiller
Derek Shiller
Reply to  Your Middle Eastern colleague
3 years ago

I’m guessing that most people who ended up giving have, at some point in their lives, more directly supported factory farming than the problems in the Middle East.Report

Your Middle Eastern colleague
Your Middle Eastern colleague
Reply to  Your Middle Eastern colleague
3 years ago

It’s tough competing with cows and chickens when you’re from the middle-east. We wouldn’t be having this conversation if the refugees were from Belgium. Report

Ben
Ben
Reply to  Your Middle Eastern colleague
3 years ago

I agree with Derek Shiller that I have far more personal responsibility for factory farming than for the illegal wars my country has undertaken. In addition, and in response to YMEC’s most recent comment: I guarantee that we would have run a fundraiser for an animal charity, and not for refugees, had the refugees been from Belgium. Last year our fundraiser was for humans (Against Malaria Foundation), and this year we wanted it to be for animals — regardless of where the world’s refugee problems currently are located — because many of us are convinced that groups like The Humane League are the most effective way to reduce suffering in the world and are relatively neglected. Whether or not we should de-prioritize utilitarian considerations in favor of special obligations, we would have prioritized utilitarian considerations even if the refugees had been from Belgium.Report

Tim O'Keefe
Reply to  Your Middle Eastern colleague
3 years ago

Hmmm. When I think of trivial things that get in the way of people spending their time and money on pressing moral concerns like the plight of refugees, “trying to reduce the animal suffering caused by factory farming” is pretty low on my list.Report

Sid
Sid
3 years ago

One thing people tend to miss about donating against factory farming is how effective every dollar donated is likely to be. This because it is highly neglected. Other causes that people talk about—e.g., Brian Leiter talks about the rise of right-wing politics—already receive a tremendous amount of attention and money.

Furthermore, even if you are uncertain about whether factory farming is wrong, you ought to try to prevent factory farming given that billions of animals are factory farmed every year—as long as your uncertainty is not vanishingly small.Report

Nick
Nick
Reply to  Sid
3 years ago

Exactly, it’s not like philosophers have not shown concrete concern and to some extent action toward other political causes (including refugees) so far. Just take these local examples:

http://dailynous.com/2015/11/25/philosophers-on-the-syrian-refugees/
http://dailynous.com/2017/01/29/trumps-immigration-order/
http://dailynous.com/2017/03/27/grassroots-organizing-network-among-philosophers-guest-post-todd-may/
http://dailynous.com/2016/03/14/philosophers-on-the-2016-u-s-presidential-race/

Tim O’Keefe is also right not note that if anything is hindering such concern and action, we should be a far cry from targetting those that try to effectively reduce mind-boggling amounts of suffering, especially when they actually get *less*, not more, attention than the issues I’ve just highlighted.Report