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Animal Rights Advocacy and Legitimate Public Deliberation

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Abstract

In this article I offer a response to recent debate over direct action animal advocacy and legitimate public deliberation in liberal democracies. Mathew Humphrey and Marc Stears and Stephen D'Arcy have argued that liberal democracies ought to tolerate direct action animal advocacy in the interests of promoting the right of proponents of non-mainstream views to inform public deliberation and decision making. I argue that the precise scope of Humphrey and Stears' and D'Arcy's analyses is unclear and important parts of their theory are under-described. I highlight the logical and practical implications of their claim that direct action is useful as a means of overcoming the stifling influence of conventional wisdom. I conclude by arguing that tolerance for direct action advocacy ought not to extend to controversial animal rights campaigning tactics such as making threats, using incendiary devices and damaging property.

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