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The Animal Rights Debate: Abolition or Regulation? (Critical Perspectives on Animals: Theory, Culture, Science, and Law) Paperback – October 26, 2010
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This volume does an excellent job of contrasting the welfarist and rights positions their competing claims, and possible weakness therein. (Choice)
About the Author
Gary L. Francione is distinguished professor of law and Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Scholar of Law and Philosophy at Rutgers University School of Law-Newark. He is the author of numerous books and articles on animal ethics and on animals and the law, including Animals as Persons: Essays on the Abolition of Animal Exploitation.
Robert Garner is professor of politics at the University of Leicester and the author of, among other books, Animals, Politics, and Morality.
Top customer reviews
Francione gives a very clear, very concise & INDEED very compelling & brilliant presentation of how he views the present situation & direction of the animal rights movement (or welfare movement). His view is that welfare only serves to further entrench animals in their exploitation with no light at the end of the tunnel, that welfare has created a very weird & disturbing trend of allegiance between animal exploiters & the organizations that supposedly want to stop exploitation, it only serves to benefit exploiters & not the animals, & that there is no evidence that the present welfare strategy is working! He discusses opposing philosophies, states the importance of beginning with the idea that animals are not property, & dedicates an entire section to a very precise & very clear strategy that will work (starting w/ethical veganism viewed as a VERY profound statement & commitment toward non-violence). Francione discusses his animal rights philosophy which apparently isn't in the welfarist approach--here in part represented by the following quotation on his website: "All beings are fond of life, like pleasure, hate pain, shun destruction, like life, long to live. To all life is dear. -- Acharanga Sutra (Jain). (Please read the comment below!)
Robert Garner responds with a counter-attack stating his philosphical views & strategy.
I would like to add my impression of Garner's approach to welfarism. I felt oppressed by so much reliance on philosophical dogma--it weighed me down both intellectually & spiritually. I feel I have good reason for this impression. It is repeated many times & in many wordings that animals don't care if you use them or kill them, they only care how you treat them (among many other Western philosophical misrepresentations). I don't have all the exact quotations here on hand, but this is more or less what is just a part of the welfarist approach. I object to this on several points:
1. The Welfare approach reeks of oppression, fantasy, confabulation, lack of empathy, & lacking the compassionate witness. The true manner to know someone is very basically through compassionate listening & observation & freedom for the person to define themselves. Non human animals are property, seen & treated as things--objects & not recognized as sentient beings with inherent & intrinsic value.
2. If such philosophies toward animals are included in the philosophy of welfare, then I can't see the purity of thought in the original idea that would eventually blossom & lead to liberation. There are flaws in the original founding idea.
3. Welfare can't be part oppressors & part liberators. This is sending forth mixed ideas. Francione states simple ideas & basic liberating truths. The liberation of women, slaves, & gay people started with basic simple truths. Many past philosophers were part of institutions of mind control, including some modern philosphers who follow those footsteps from the past--& they were & are viewed as authority figures. Old institutions kept people in place & did not allow for enlightened thinking when it came to animals. Isn't it time we liberated ourselves from these outdated oppressive views?
4. I see animals as being victims of an egregious violation of trust rather than not having an interest in their lives. I certainly wouldn't think someone wanted to kill me if they were feeding me or playing music for me, etc. I would think they were my friends! Buddhism teaches that animals don't know they are being used for lack of education! They are too pure & simple to comprehend the profound betrayal of trust of such magnitude on the part of human intellect. However one very important point is that all exploitation of food animals constitutes torture in the best case scenario.
5. Exploitation, torture of animals, betrayal of trust, & misrepresentations only serve to underscore human inadequacy. Such thoughts & actions degrade humanity--they do not elevate humanity. Humanity should be able to fully appreciate the intrinsic value of non-humans, the full value of their suffering or their instrinsic dignity as it would be our own. My newly rescued cat is an example of a being who very much values her life, wants to be happy, wants to be free from all harm, treated with dignity AND with manners, & wants life & happiness to continue--all this is plain to see on many different levels. There is no reason whatsoever to attempt to invent (or locate) any element of superiority that would prevent us from honoring such basic rights of non-human beings. Pigs, dogs, cats, cows, etc. are examples of beings that are highly evolved. What an unbelievable travesty of justice for a highly evolved being to come into existence (who should be enjoying life) only to experience torture & have humans decide everything about them. This concept has always haunted me. Because of the enormous vulnerability of our non-human beings at many different levels, they should be treated with priority, greater consideration & kindness. They should be protected from all forms of cruelty & exploitation. In the future, I hope our society will take over the responsibility to protect the lives of nonhumans & protect them from harm & any sort of exploitation. This starts with the ending of domestication.
Says Francione, "Second, it is a mistake to see issues of human and animal exploitation as mutually exclusive. On the contrary, all exploitation is inextricably intertwined. All exploitation is a manifestation of violence. All discrimination is a manifestation of violence. As long as we tolerate violence of any sort, there will be violence of every sort."
As Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy noted: "As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields."
Francione adds, "Tolstoy was, of course, completely correct. As long as humans regard it as normal to slaughter animals for food for which there is no justification other than the trivial pleasure we get from eating or using animals, they will regard it as normal to use violence when they think that something more important is at stake."
When I was visiting Italy in the late 60's I learned of how medical students vivisected unanesthetized dogs (which is still happening today). I thought at that time, that their agony & pain was equal to that of a human being. Their pain was equal. Lives of sentient beings are of equal value to human life. They value their lives just as we do. Their lives have inherent & intrinsic value.
Francione looks carefully at the economics of industry, the business model of animal advocacy organisations, or "new welfarist" as he refers to them; the reality of welfare "reform" for animals; the problems with single issue campaigns, the similarities between pro-violence and new welfarists groups in that they mistakenly target suppliers. He unabiguously shows that it is the public who create the demand for these products who need to be targeted through consistent, creative, nonviolent vegan education. This debate clearly shows that the abolitionist position is well in front, and THE only way to end the property status of nonhuman animals.
I still found this book to be a worthwhile purchase. The section written by Francione is a clear, concise, and concrete call for animal advocates to stop with the nonsense and to start promoting veganism - not "happy" meat or "fur-free Fridays".
Francione has nothing new to say in this book. He simply repeats his usual points (ad nauseam) in each of the arguments and fails to provide any evidence that he's got it right.
Garner, on the other hand, tackles each argument and backs up his reasoning very convincingly. In his essay he approaches Francione's arguments from every conceivable angle and easily out-argues him in each case.
The claims that improving animal welfare encourages more animal use are really quite ridiculous when we live in world where most people are currently happy to knowingly consume factor-farmed animal products. As the numbers of veggies & vegans stall - not to mention the doubling of world-wide meat consumption between 1961 and 2007, with predictions for the number to double yet again by 2050 - it is clear that world is not ready to `go vegan' any time soon.
So what do we do in the meantime?
Garner suggests that we need to work with politicians, the public and industry to meaningfully increase animal welfare as part of a continuum towards greater rights for animals. I agree with his ascertain that you can't have an effective movement based purely on a moral argument - we must also cultivate political and social strands to make real progress.