Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


Animals as Persons: Essays on the Abolition of Animal Exploitation
Columbia University Press, 2008 

Editorial Reviews

"Coolly, lucidly, and uncompromisingly, with a minimum of horror stories, Gary L. Francione argues for the right of all sentient beings to a full life. His critique of animal-welfare legislation, with its many escape clauses that allow the business of animal exploitation to proceed as usual, is particularly devastating." -- J. M. Coetzee, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature

"Darwin once made a note to himself: "Never use the words 'higher' or 'lower.'" Well it took all this time before finally somebody did just that! That somebody is Gary L. Francione, thinking, as always, just beyond what anyone else has already thought. He is a radical, in the best sense of that word, always striking out (sometimes on his own) into areas where the rest of humanity has feared to tread. He goes out, and he comes back with treasure that the rest of us are only to happy to use and appropriate. That's o.k., I am sure, with him. He is not in this for his sake, but for their sake. So anything that will get us to take the vegan plunge (as I recently did, partly because I can see no way to avoid the arguments that Francione so cogently sets forth in this wonderful collection of essays), to stop making excuses for the Eichmann's of the animals and to recognize that when a nonhuman animal dies before his or her time, and under conditions of someone else's making, a tragedy has occurred that is every bit as momentous as the same tragedy in the life of a human animal. We are, all of us who are concerned with the lives (as opposed to the deaths) of animals, deeply in Francione's debt, whether we know it or not, whether we like him or not, and whether we want to acknowledge it or not." -- Jeffrey Masson, Harvard University

"The most wholly consistent animal rights position available today is Gary L. Francione's. In philosophical essays such as these his dedication to defining what it means to give the interests of nonhumans equal moral consideration shines through in a remarkably clear and uncompromising way. Francione conducts a rigorous cross-examination of utilitarianism (animal liberation theory), alternative animal rights and animal welfare views, feminist care ethics as applied to animals, and United States animal protection law, all of which creates a more meaningful and compelling context for his own approach. Those who seriously engage with this book will not only expand their horizons but also demand a much higher standard of argument in this field ever after." -- Michael Allen Fox, professor emeritus of philosophy, Queen's University, Canada, adjunct professor, School of Humanities, University of New England (Australia), and author of Deep Vegetarianism

"In this uncompromising and stimulating call for the abolition of all forms of oppression of other animals, Gary L. Francione establishes himself as one of the leading advocates for justice in the world today. In these powerful essays, Francione methodically and unflinchingly examines and deconstructs the ineffectual positions of many professed advocates for other animals and points the way toward true animal liberation. He exposes the pragmatic and moral flaws in the arguments of those who call merely for reduced cruelty and better regulation of industries that are based on animal oppression. His forceful and compelling arguments against contemporary 'animal welfarism' and in favor of true animal rights should be required reading for scholars, activists, and anyone interested in justice for all the inhabitants of this planet." -- David Nibert, author of Animal Rights/Human Rights: Entanglements of Oppression and Liberation

Product Description

A prominent and respected philosopher of animal rights law and ethical theory, Gary L. Francione is known for his criticism of animal welfare laws and regulations, his abolitionist theory of animal rights, and his promotion of veganism and nonviolence as the baseline principles of the abolitionist movement. In this collection, Francione advances the most radical theory of animal rights argued to date. Unlike Peter Singer, Francione maintains that we cannot morally justify using animals under any circumstances, and unlike Tom Regan, Francione's theory applies to all sentient beings, and not only to those who have more sophisticated cognitive abilities.

Francione introduces the volume with an essay that explains our historical and contemporary attitudes about animals by distinguishing the issue of animal use from that of animal treatment. He then presents a theory of animal rights, which focuses on the need to accord all sentient nonhumans the right not to be treated as our property. Our recognition of such a right would require that we stop bringing domesticated animals into existence for human use. He takes a hard look at our "moral schizophrenia" toward animals and our ability to regard some creatures as beloved companions and others as food and clothing. Subsequent essays explore recent changes in animal welfare and the sad fact that these advances have not only failed to bring us closer to the abolition of animal exploitation, but have made the public feel more comfortable about supposedly more "humane" animal treatment. In two essays, Francione explores the importance of sentience as the necessary and sufficient condition for the moral significance of animals and explains how the status of animals as economic commodities prevents the equal consideration of their interests. He also discusses the issue of using animals in experiments, arguing that the empirical necessity of animal use is at best suspect and that animal use cannot, in any event, be morally justified. After a chapter addressing ecofeminism and its ethic of care, Francione concludes by challenging the rationale of Tom Regan's position that death imposes a greater harm on humans than nonhumans.

This collection of essays demonstrates why Francione's abolitionist theory is widely regarded as the most exciting innovation in modern animal ethics.

Animal Person remarks: In the absence of an Index, the Reference Guide to Selected Topics, which is in narrative form with page references, is very useful.

Ex: "Ethical theory concerning nonhuman animals seeks to clarify how we should resolve conflicts between humans and nonhumans. These conflicts are, for the most part, ones we create because we regard animals as property and bring them into existence so that we can treat them as our resources. See pp. 13-14, 63-66, 152,164 (232)."

The themes that appear in the essays are (the quotation provided is just one instance of each theme):

Our "moral schizophrenia" ("our actual treatment of animals stands in stark contrast to our proclamations about our regard for their moral status [26]").

"The property status of animals renders meaningless any balancing that is supposedly required under the humane treatment principle or animal welfare laws, because what we really balance are the interests of property owners against the interests of their animal property (38)."

"If we extend the right not to be property to animals, then animals will become moral persons. To say that a being is a person is merely to say that the being has morally significant interests, that the principle of equal consideration applies to that being, that the being is not a thing. In a sense, we already accept that animals are persons; we claim to reject the view that animals are things and to recognize that, at the very least, animals have a morally significant interest in not suffering. Their status as property, however, has prevented their personhood from being realized (61)."

"There have been no significant improvements in animal welfare or animal-welfare laws in the United States, and almost all changes have been linked explicitly to making animal use more efficient (72-3)."

"Making exploitation more efficient and increasing demand for meat have nothing to do with recognizing the inherent value of animals or doing anything other than treating animals strictly as economic commodities (86)."

"Rather than embrace veganism as a clear moral baseline, the animal-advocacy movement has instead adopted the notion that we can 'consume with conscience.'  For example, Peter Singer maintains that we can be 'conscientious omnivores' and exploit animals ethically if, for example, we choose to eat only animals who have been well-cared-for and then killed without pain or distress (108)."

"The most important form of incremental change on a societal level is education about veganism and the need to abolish, not merely to regulate, the institutionalized exploitation of animals. The animal-advocacy movement in the United States has seriously failed to educate the public about the need for abolition of animal exploitation. Although there are many reasons for this failure, a primary one is that animal-advocacy groups find it easier to promote welfarist campaigns aimed at reducing 'unnecessary' suffering that have little practical effect and are often endorsed by the industry involved. Such campaigns are easy for advocates to package and sell and they do not offend anyone (109-10)."

"Education and social change are so important and must precede legal change. There is simply no political base to support any radical legal change at this time (112)."

“Animal advocates have lost ground in a number of areas. Discourse about animal welfare as connected to economic efficiency is no less prevalent than it was a decade ago and, indeed, is arguably more prevalent. The animal movement has drifted in a more traditional welfarist direction in that most of the animal organizations have openly embraced a program of efficient exploitation (126)."

"There is no empirical evidence to indicate that animal welfare regulation will lead to the abolition of animal exploitation (136)."

"Although the similar-minds approach claims that, as an empirical matter, we may have been wrong in the past and at least some nonhumans may have some of the [characteristics we associate with human minds], it does not address the underlying--and fundamental--moral question: why is anything more than sentience necessary for nonhumans to have the right not to be treated exclusively as means to human ends (141)?"

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