Friday, September 1, 2017

How to make effective claims

How to make effective claims

One aim of a collective action is the expression of a political claim and the arguments in favor of it.

The public must be able to link the claim to a principle that it already knows, so that the claim sounds like the continuation of something already existent. So a good argument for a claim is the one that garanties the insertion of the other's point of view into a known structure.

To be understood by the public, an argument has to take its origin in already existent representations available in the public's mind. And representations that we want to be transmitted have to « anchor » themselves into already available representations.

Commonly shared principles play the rôle of a cognitive filter : only those claims that enter in this filter can be understood and accepted by the public.  

Examples :  

Known principles: Equality + discrimination  
Claim : Speciesist practices must be eliminated

Our society is for equality and against discriminations. Sexism and racism are considered nowadays as arbitrary and wrong, because no matter from wich « race » or gender we are, we have interests that have to be protected and we all want to avoid violence and the law of the strongest. And humans are not the only ones to have interests or wanting to avoid violence or the law of the strongest, it is also the case for the animals. Many authors who have analysed our relation to other animals have found that it is based on speciesism, this concept can be understood by analogy with racism and sexism, and represents the ideology that considers that the lives and interests of animals can be overlooked simply because they belong to another species. These authors conclude that speciesism is an irrational and unfair discrimination since both humans and other animals feel emotions and concerning our capacity to feel suffering we are equal. This means that considering animals as a simple ressource is speciesist and wrong. Justice requires that we respect the lives and interests of the animals by eliminating all practices that violate their interests simply because they are from another species.  

Known principle: Violence is wrong
Claim : Slaughterhouses have to be closed down

Our society condemns violence. Hitting without reason or killing are criminal offenses, because if we can avoid agression we are obligated to do so. Violence against the weak is condemned even more vehemently. And everyone agrees that animals can also suffer from violence and are clearly weak compared to humans and their technology. Nevertheless, slaughterhouses constitute the most appaling conretization of the violence against powerless beings. Our society say that brutality is bad but kills thousands of innocent animals every day. In the same time, millions of vegans and vegetarians in the world show that it is not necessary to kill animals for food, wich means that the violence of slaughterhouses can't be justified anymore. The fondamental principles of non violence and protection of the weak have to be respected. Injust and violent practices of the past have been abolished or reduced, such as slavery, public torture or breaching. They also were embedded in the collective consciousness to the point that some people thought them to be eternal. But history has shown the opposite, because the moral evolution of human beings is a phenomenon that persists over time and one can easily imagine that one day slaughterhouses will be considered as a symbol of injustice and barbarism. Beginning to close them today is demanded not only by us but by the thousands of animals whose throat is being cut down right now in a society that condemns violence only in words.  

Known principle: Law of the strongest is wrong  
Claim : Animals are not a biological material

All agree that the law of the strongest is wrong and nobody would like to be reduced to the state of a thing by someone more powerful. Imagine for example that as you read carefully this text a flying saucer arises in the proximity. It is equipped with very complicated technological mechanisms and was built by smarter beings than humans. As you continue to read, you suddenly hear a strange noise, you turn around and see that the humanoid beings dressed strangely are approaching you. They have menacing tools. You start to panic and suddenly you get a kind of electric shock that hurts you and forces you to move forward. These aliens force you to go into a singular vehicle. It's dark but you can see other humans who are scared like you. You feel that the vehicle moves, but you do not know where it goes. Suddenly, it stops and aliens open the door. They force you to go out with the same tools that make you suffer. You arrive into a macabre place where you see cages and hear screams. You are afraid. Those aliens put you in a cage, you are totally horrified, you struggle with all your energy, but it is useless. These aliens want to use you as a biological material for their experiences to save alien lives. Despite the fact that these aliens have an average IQ of 3500 and have certain abilities like telepathy that humans lack, you probably think these practices on innocent human beings, performed just because they are less clever and weaker than these aliens are unfair and should be stopped. This is because we are all against the law of the strongest and one could even argue that since these aliens are smarter, they should more easily understand that their actions are unjust. The same is true for our use of animals in laboratories, things are ethically identical in both cases. If the experiments made by these aliens are wrong, than our use of sentient beings as a simple biological material is also wrong because they are both manifestations of the law of the strongest which has to be eliminated in every civilized society.  

Known principles: Environmental crisis + scientific knowledge  
Claim : Animals must be considered as our co-citizens

In these times of environmental crisis, where we are more and more vehemently criticizing practices like the deforestation or the pollution of the rivers and oceans, we can easily understand that they are the logical consequences of the dominion of humans on all other sentient beings on the planet. If humans respected animals as sentient beings having an inherent value that can't be violated for the futile and commercial needs of humans we wouldn't allow ourselves to destroy their habitat by cutting down the forests or pollute the very place where they live. Parallel to this, we can see that ethologists found recently that self-consciousness, having been long considered characteristic of humans, is not only present in apes, dolphins and elephants but is even common in some birds such as magpies who can recognize themselves in the mirror. Of whom is this planet the environment? For whom does she have to become a sustainable place? Humans are not the only sentient inhabitants of the Earth. Other animals also have an interest in enjoying their life and having a habitat consistent with their needs. Henceforth, we can't continue to consider animals as a resource or as simple functions of an ecosystem. They are individual beings that feel emotions, have their own interests and desires. It is time for us to consider them as our co-citizens with whom we are sharing this earth.

Other examples can be found in your imagination.

This article is based on the sociology book "Argumenter dans un champ de forces", Francis Chateauraynaud, éd. Petra, 2011. 

No comments:

Post a Comment