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Abolishing Exploitation: Francione’s Case for Animal Rights

With respect to animal rights, the welfarist reform differs in kind, not degree, from the abolitionist reform. The former seeks quantitative measures, arguing degree of exploitation. The latter, the abolitionist reform, seeks qualitative measures, arguing moral inconsistencies. Francione writes: “We have historically justified our exploitation of nonhumans on the ground that there is a qualitative distinction between the minds of humans and other animals.”

The following briefly describes Professor Francione’s Theory of Animal Rights, in his words. For a thorough explanation of Francione’s abolitionist theory of animal rights, visit his website, Animal Rights: The Abolitionist Approach.

We ought to abolish animal exploitation and not seek merely to regulate it.”

Francione on Animal Voices, CIUT 89.5 FM in Toronto, Canada

“Our only justification for the pain, suffering, and death inflicted on these billions of nonhumans is that we enjoy the taste of meat and dairy products. And if we really do take seriously that it is wrong to inflict unnecessary suffering on nonhumans, our enjoyment in eating animal products cannot be a morally acceptable justification. Our only use of animals that is not transparently trivial is the use of animals in experiments intended to find cures for serious human illnesses. But even in this context, there are serious questions about the necessity of animal use. Because of the biological differences between humans and other animals, there is always a problem extrapolating the results of animal experiments to humans. The data produced by animal use are often unreliable. For example, results from toxicity tests using animals can vary dramatically depending on the method that is used. Considerable empirical evidence indicates that, in many instances, reliance on animal models in experiments has actually been counterproductive. For example, the failure to create an animal model of lung cancer led researchers to ignore evidence of a strong correlation of smoking and lung cancer in humans.”

Moral Schizophrenia

“We kill billions of nonhumans every year for reasons that cannot plausibly be considered as “necessary” even though we maintain that we accept that it is wrong to inflict “unnecessary” suffering on animals. When it comes to other animals, we humans exhibit what can best be described as moral schizophrenia. We say one thing about how animals should be treated, and we turn right around and do another.”

“If we recognized that all sentient beings had a basic, moral right not to be treated as property and that we had a moral duty to stop treating sentient beings as resources, we would stop bringing domestic animals into existence for our use. Recognizing “animal rights” does not mean letting all domestic animals run free in the streets. It means caring for those whom we have caused to come into existence. And not bringing anymore into existence to use for food, clothing, entertainment, or experiments. If we took the interests of animals seriously, we would stop bringing domestic animals into existence. There is no reason-other than our pleasure, amusement, or convenience-to eat animal meat or dairy, wear animals, hunt animals, or use animals in entertainment.”

An abolitionist and a welfarist: Professor Francione and Erik Marcus debate

Note: All thoughts in quotations are those of Gary L. Francione.

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