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Animals as Persons: Essays on the Abolition of Animal Exploitation [Paperback]

Gary L Francione
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Book Description

11 Dec 2009
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 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, not only to those who have more sophisticated cognitive abilities.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (11 Dec 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231139519
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231139519
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 437,410 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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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 Vol 44, No 6, 2011

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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Tis book more or less changed my life. I suggest anyone who is interested in animals, loves animals, or is just curious about what is Animal rights to read this book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
53 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Author's Reply to Lataavi 27 Mar 2009
By Gary L. Francione - Published on
I am the author of this book.

A reviewer, "Lataavi" claims that I maintain that vivisection is acceptable if it is necessary.

This claim is false.

In Chapter 2 of the book, I make quite clear that even if animal use were necessary to find cures for human illness (a position that I criticize), such use could not be justified as a moral matter.

"Lataavi" has for whatever reason blatantly and explicitly misrepresented the content of the book.

Gary L. Francione
Professor, Rutgers University
40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AR must-read 27 Jun 2008
By Eric Prescott - Published on
(Originally published at

Working Animals as Persons: Essays on on the Abolition of Animal Exploitation into my ridiculous schedule was relatively easy, in part because the book is comprised of individual, self-contained essays that allowed me to conveniently break my reading up into manageable sessions as time permitted. You might find this helpful as well. While the essays range in length, none of them are terribly long (particularly after the first two), and together they all provide an excellent and highly readable introduction to Professor Francione's abolitionist theory of animal rights. If you are one of those people who have put off reading his earlier books due to time constraints or for any other reason, this might be an ideal place to start.

I recommend not skipping over the introduction, particularly if you've never read Francione before. In it, he gets right to the pivotal assertion that the animal advocacy movement is, in effect, two very different movements: one that seeks to abolish animal exploitation by eradicating the property status of animals, and the other a movement that seeks the regulation of animal-using industries while failing to effectively challenge the property status of animals.

He expands on the core concepts of abolitionism in the first chapter, "Animals as Persons." That essay is itself a relatively brief but thorough presentation of Francione's theory as developed more fully in Introduction to Animal Rights: Your Child or the Dog? (ITAR) While it is not a substitute for reading that book, "Animals as Persons" is a very clear essay that will quickly have you up to speed on the basic concepts.

The next chapter is an essay called "Reflections on Animals Property & The Law (Ethics And Action) and Rain Without Thunder Pb." In it, Francione responds to various critics who have argued that the property status of animals does not necessarily prevent advocates from improving animal welfare, and that animal welfare regulation is an effective way of moving incrementally toward recognition that animals have more than the value that we assign to them.

You don't necessarily need to have read the two books to appreciate "Reflections," though I'm sure I got more out of it because I had. I found the essay particularly interesting because Francione deconstructs real-world legislation such as Florida's gestation crate ban and California's foie gras ban. While he frequently deconstructs current events on his blog, as he did with the announcement that KFC Canada would adopt a controlled-atmosphere killing policy, these case studies offer new readers relevant and useful applications of his abolitionist theory.

In his third essay, "Taking Sentience Seriously," Francione focuses on flaws in the "similar-minds" theory, a critical analysis all the more relevant in light of news that Spain's parliament plans to extend legal rights to life and freedom for great apes. Based as it is on cognitive abilities rather than sentience, this pending legislation is a case in point for Francione, so you'll definitely want to read chapter 3 if you don't know why this seemingly good news is a bad precedent for animal rights.

Returning to his critics, chapter four's essay, "Equal Consideration," focuses specifically on Cass Sunstein's review of ITAR, in which he claims that Francione fails to justify why animal advocates should not focus on regulating human treatment of animals rather than abolishing animal use. This gives Francione an excellent opportunity to point out some fatal flaws in Sunstein's thinking, along with that of Jeremy Bentham and Peter Singer, who seem to believe that some sentient beings have no interest in continuing to live, despite the logical implication that their very sentience gives these animals an interest in continued existence.

Francione's fifth essay examines the justifications for vivisection, which he also covers in IATR (along with descriptions of numerous specific experiments). Here, too, he observes that even if there is some plausible empirical claim for necessity, this form of animal use cannot be morally justified. "The Use of Nonhuman Animals" is one of the clearest, most concise critiques of vivisection I have read, from both the empirical and moral points of view. While the empirical section should be sufficient in and of itself to clear up any confusion as to whether vivisection is as valuable as is usually claimed, Francione footnotes our way to additional resources, and of course he follows this up with a moral critique that is impossible to refute without engaging in hypocrisy.

His next essay, "Ecofeminism and Animal Rights," is actually a 1996 review of Beyond Animal Rights: A Feminist Caring Ethic for the Treatment of Animals, in which he examines arguments made against animal rights and for an "ethic of care." Like Cass Sunstein's review of IATR, essays in Beyond Animal Rights suggest that we do not need to end the institutionalized exploitation of nonhuman animals in order to include them within the moral community, and even go as far as to actually legitimize that exploitation, ironically perpetuating speciesist hierarchy at the same time that they condemn the rights view as hierarchical. Francione swiftly and effectively counters these views.

Finally, Francione turns his attention to perhaps the world's best-known animal rights author and philosopher, Tom Regan, who in his seminal The Case for Animal Rights made a sustained, comprehensive, and complex philosophical argument for animal rights. In it, he presents the "lifeboat case," a hypothetical scenario he resolves in part by claiming that death is a greater harm to humans than it is to nonhumans such as dogs. Francione critiques this view with "Comparable Harm and Equal Inherent Value," a 1995 essay updated with a 2008 postscript to respond to the new preface Regan wrote in 2004 for the second edition of The Case for Animal Rights, in which he responded to critics of his lifeboat example.

One of the few drawbacks of gathering together all these different essays is that, even though the case studies and responses to specific criticisms may prompt you to understand Francione's abolitionist theory more clearly, you frequently end up reading the same thing you've read elsewhere in his work, including other essays in this book, and sometimes nearly even verbatim. However, it is that very deja vu experience that reminds you how so many supposedly different debates always come back to the fundamentals, which we would do well to learn... and that may just be the reason Francione keeps repeating them.

In recapping his abolitionist animal rights theory and defending it with such precision, clarity, and authority, Gary Francione successfully reasserts the view that nonhuman animals will not be meaningfully protected from unnecessary harm so long as they are considered human property, and that welfare reforms or variations on the theme are incapable of leading to their emancipation. Animals as Persons is a must-read for anyone claiming to support or to even simply be interested in animal rights.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why the Abolitionist Approach Is the Only Way to Abolish Animal Exploitation 9 Oct 2008
By Karin Hilpisch - Published on
In Animals as Persons -- which is composed of seven separate essays, given thematic unity by an introductory section -- Francione explains, clarifies, and elaborates on the major themes of the abolitionist approach to animal rights, which are as follows:

-- The abolitionist approach to animal rights is based on veganism as the rejection of the commodity status of nonhumans and a recognition of their inherent value;

-- as long as animals are property, they can never be members of the moral community;

-- sentience is all that is rationally required for membership in the moral community;

-- animal welfare fails to provide significant protection for animal interests and because it allows the use of animals in circumstances in which we use no humans, it necessarily deprives animals of equal consideration.

The latter point is demonstrated by a number of so-called ''major victories'' of animal advocacy in the past dozen years (and before) which Francione criticizes, among other things PETA's (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) agreement with McDonald's on higher slaughter standards for its meat suppliers and on providing increased space for hens in egg batteries.

Francione also tackles the ecofeminist approach to animal ethics, responds to some objections to his theory of the property status of animals, analyses the use of animals in biomedical research, and refutes the argument made in Tom Regan's book The Case for Animal Rights (1983) that throwing a dog out of a lifeboat in order to save a human would be required by rights theory.

Francione shows the objections with which the abolitionist approach continually has to contend to be invalid; indeed, the clarity, soundness, and consistency of abolitionism make its being dismissed, especially by self-identifying animal rights advocates, difficult to explain. Excellently written and easy to read, this book is a significant part of a work which, as I hope, will reach an increasingly wide audience and obtain due recognition worldwide as by far the most important contribution to animal rights theory to date.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading 1 Dec 2010
By Trish Roberts - Published on
Gary L Francione will be viewed in the future as a very important historical figure. His work is extremely important
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tight as a drum 28 Sep 2008
By City Vegan - Published on
No where will you find more compelling and succinct arguments in favor of the rights of animals. Gary will leave you wishing you had his undeniable gift for communicating what is in his mind to the spoken (or written) word. In plain talk, he's fierce!
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