- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Columbia University Press (November 19, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0231139519
- ISBN-13: 978-0231139519
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 18 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,813,227 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Animals as Persons: Essays on the Abolition of Animal Exploitation
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adds greatly to the understanding of both the ethical thinking about human and nonhuman animals and the campaigning and claims-making that occurs on behalf of animals. (Roger Yates Sociology)
About the Author
Gary L. Francione was the first academic to teach animal rights theory in an American law school and has lectured on the topic throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. He is Distinguished Professor of Law and Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Scholar of Law and Philosophy at Rutgers University-Newark, and his books include Introduction to Animal Rights and Animals, Property, and the Law.
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But, onto the book itself.
Gary Francione is a lawyer and it shows well in this essay. Not only does he strike down many welfare arguments with precision, giving historical examples in human context, but references many thinkers of the modern animals welfare movement. Make no mistake, this book probably isn't for you if you're not already vegan, vegetarian, or at the least, on the fence of this issue. Each essay answers numerous objections welfarists may have to the abolition movement, as well as quandaries vegans may personally have about the abolitionist approach. In essence, this book is more less objections to the modern animal rights activists. Those that follow the similar minds theory, or other animal rights activist that share similar views to Gary, but not quite. This is also not to say he by any means ever attacks anyone personally. He always goes for a calm, rational approach and explains the problems with the approaches.
Each essay talks about a slightly different issue, from sentience, to the new welfarism, to responses to criticisms from his other books, and so on.
What's more, the essays are highly quotable not only in response for new welfarists, but omnivores as well. It's a great book that can give you educated retorts to common objections to those that claim we have the right to eat animals. Here's one in particular I am fond of, as the cognitive minds argument comes up every so often for omnivores:
"Any attempt to justify treating animals as resources based on their lack of cognitive characteristics claimed to be uniquely human begs the question from the outset by assuming that certain human characteristics are "special" and justify different treatment. Although there are thing that only humans can do (although not all humans may be able to do them), there are things that only nonhumans can do. Humans alone may be able to write symphonies, do calculus, or recognize themselves in mirrors, but only nonhumans can fly or breathe underwater without assistance. What makes our characteristics special is, of course, we say so."
-Gary L. Francione, Animals as Persons.
Though that quote doesn't cover the entirety of the argument and out of context it's slightly butchered in it's beauty, but it's one of the many juicy paragraphs Gary provides in his essays.
That said, there are one or two shortcomings: first, Gary tends to refer to the same quotes or even directly copy pastes himself a few times. This isn't a bad thing inherently, since the essays WERE written years apart [to my understanding] however, if you go through this book in a week like I did, you'll get a bit of deja vu. This is a shortcoming that probably could have been avoided with some editing, however, when a quote is good, you wanna use it. This isn't a total negative, but I got weary after reading 'can they suffer' quote for the fourth or fifth time. Not Gary fault directly, but it detracted from my personal experience.
Secondly, Gary doesn't [to my understanding] directly say HOW to take the abolitionist approach. Best to my understanding, he'd rely on public and consumer influence. Get a few friends to go vegan abolitionist and they rest is history. However this was said rather indirectly and only once; compared to the exhaustive lengths he went to disprove the welfarist, this felt unsatisfying and I felt he could've answered this question better.
Despite that initial complaint that makes the book lose a star, it's an extremely concise and well written book. It regards questions vegans may have that are a bit uncomfortable if you're a nonspeiciesist [such as the burning house example].
Gary is a man the animal rights activists should follow [funnily enough today [7/22/2014] he posted a blog saying he didn't want followers] by example.
Animal exploitation is unnecessary. If you wanna be nonviolent, go vegan. If you want to be a true environmentalist, go vegan. If you think killing an animal unnecessarily is wrong, go vegan. Gary will not waver from this spot. After reading his book, neither will I.
Lost a single star only because I believe it might be slightly academic and too overwhelming for people who are brand new to animal rights issues. As such, I probably wouldn't recommend it as a first introductory book to get someone interested in animal rights. I think it's more for people who are already into the issues and want a deep overview of Francione's philosophy.