U.S. position on global poverty and sustainability in seven sentences, two of them fully redacted

September 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

Actions speak louder than words, but words, too, can be quite revealing, especially in draft form. The following appeared in the September 2012 issue of Harper’s Magazine:


From changes requested by the United State to “The Future We Want,” a document outlining the “common vision” of countries participating in the Rio+20 conference in June.

Eradicating poverty is the greatest global challenge facing the world today and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. In this regard we are committed to free humanity from extreme poverty and hunger as a matter of urgency.

We recognize that promoting universal access to social services can make an important contribution to consolidating and archiving development gains.

We strongly encourage initiatives at all levels aimed at providing enhancing social protection for all people.

We appeal to invite all States, relevant international organizations, the private sector, and all major groups to enhance their effortsto achive sustainable changes in consumption and production patterns while creating new economic opportunities and decent work, and securing good enhancing living standards and protection of vulnerable groups.

We reaffirm the urgent need to deepen the reform of the global financial system and architecture based on the principles of equity, sovereign equality, independence, common interest, cooperation and solidarity among all States.

We urge developed countries to undertake significant changes in the lifestyles of their people to move towards a more sustainable future for all.

Beyond Morality: Developing a New Rhetorical Strategy for the Animal Rights Movement

November 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

First published in the Fall 2011 issue of the Journal of Animal Ethics. You can read a response by Per-Anders Svärd in the same issue of the journal.


Peter Singer ended the last chapter of the 2002 edition of Animal Liberation, the seminal volume first published in 1975 and widely credited with starting the modern animal rights movement, by asking his readers to reflect on the future of the movement’s main project:

Will our tyranny continue, proving that morality counts for nothing when it clashes with self-interest, as the most cynical of poets and philosophers have always said? Or will we rise to the challenge and prove our capacity for genuine altruism by ending our ruthless exploitation of the species in our power, not because we are forced to do so by rebels or terrorists, but because we recognize that our position is morally indefensible? (p. 248)

In this article, I attempt to answer these questions by examining recent successes and failures of the movement, limitations inherent in the movement’s reliance on emotional appeals and rights/sentience-based moral arguments as the key elements of its rhetorical strategy, and alternative rhetorical strategies that address some of those weaknesses. (The fact that Singer had to ask the previously quoted questions in 2002, a quarter century after the first edition of Animal Liberation was published, suggests that the moral arguments employed by the movement do, indeed, have limitations.) Read more →

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