Introduction to Animal Rights

Introduction to Animal Rights: Your Child or the Dog?

Gary L. Francione
Foreword by Alan Watson
Copyright Date: 2000
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 272
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt14bstp5
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  • Book Info
    Introduction to Animal Rights
    Book Description:

    Two-thirds of Americans polled by the Associated Press agree with the following statement: "An animal's right to live free of suffering should be just as important as a person's right to live free of suffering." More than 50 percent of Americans believe that it is wrong to kill animals to make fur coats or to hunt them for sport. But these same Americans eat hamburgers, take their children to circuses and rodeos, and use products developed with animal testing. How do we justify our inconsistency?In this easy-to-read introduction, animal rights advocate Gary Francione looks at our conventional moral thinking bout animals. Using examples, analogies, and thought-experiments, he reveals the dramatic inconsistency between what we say we believe about animals and how we actually treat them.Introduction to Animal Rights: Your Child or the Dog?provides a guidebook to examining our social and personal ethical beliefs. It takes us through concepts of property and equal consideration to arrive at the basic contention of animal rights: that everyone -- human and non-human -- has the right not to be treated as a means to an end. Along the way, it illuminates concepts and theories that all of us use but few of us understand -- the nature of "rights" and "interests," for example, and the theories of Locke, Descartes, and Bentham.Filled with fascinating information and cogent arguments, this is a book that you may love or hate, but that will not fail to inform, enlighten, and educate.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0512-8
    Subjects: Biological Sciences, Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    Alan Watson

    Our political and social history is studded with complacency: to human beings designated as slaves, to people of color, to gays, to women, and to animals. Social revulsion to oppression, when it comes, is often extreme and violent. Even when it is not, it may be swift and driven by an intellectual idea. The struggle has largely, but not finally or totally, been won against slavery; against racial and sexual prejudice; against homophobia. The controversy concerning the human/animal relationship has been ongoing for a good long time but with no resolution in sight. The outlook is, I suggest, about to...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. xix-xxxviii)

    There is a profound disparity between what we say we believe about animals, and how we actually treat them. On one hand, we claim to take animal interests seriously. Two-thirds of Americans polled by the Associated Press agree with the following statement: “An animal’s right to live free of suffering should be just as important as a person’s right to live free of suffering.” More than 50 percent of Americans believe that it is wrong to kill animals to make fur coats or to hunt them for sport.¹ Almost 50 percent regard animals to be “just like humans in all...

  6. 1 The Diagnosis: Our Moral Schizophrenia about Animals
    (pp. 1-30)

    Our moral attitudes about animals are, to say the very least, schizophrenic. On the one hand, we all agree that it is morally wrong to impose unnecessary suffering on animals. On the other hand, the overwhelming amount of suffering that we do impose on animals cannot be regarded as analogous to our choice to save the human being in the burning house or, indeed, as necessary in any meaningful sense of the word.

    In this chapter, we will explore the disparity between what we say about animals and how we actually treat them. First, we will examine the moral status...

  7. 2 Vivisection: A Trickier Question
    (pp. 31-49)

    In Chapter 1, we encountered the humane treatment principle, which holds that we may prefer humans to animals in situations of true emergency or conflict, but also holds that we have an obligation that we owe directly to animals not to inflict unnecessary suffering on them. We also saw that animal agriculture, which accounts for the largest number of animals by far that we use annually, as well as hunting, fishing, the use of animals in entertainment, and the use of animals for fur, cannot be regarded as necessary in any sense. If the humane treatment principle means anything, it...

  8. 3 The Cause of Our Moral Schizophrenia: Animals as Property
    (pp. 50-80)

    We may think it is acceptable or even obligatory to prefer the human over the animal in situations of true conflict or emergency, but we also claim to endorse the humane treatment principle: we recognize that it is morally impermissible to inflict unnecessary pain and suffering on animals. The problem, as we saw, is that the overwhelming portion of the suffering we inflict on animals cannot be described as necessary in any meaningful sense. Indeed, there is a profound disparity between what we say we believe about animals and how we actually treat them. In this chapter, we will explore...

  9. 4 The Cure for Our Moral Schizophrenia: The Principle of Equal Consideration
    (pp. 81-102)

    We have two choices—and only two—when it comes to the moral status of animals.

    We can continue to permit the infliction of suffering on animals for virtually any purpose that provides a benefit to us, including wholly unnecessary purposes. If we exercise this option, then we should at least admit that our claim that animals have morally significant interests is a sham and that we in fact recognize only their value as things, as means to our ends.

    Or we can maintain that animals have morally significant interests in not being subjected to unnecessary suffering. This option requires...

  10. Photographs
    (pp. None)
  11. 5 Robots, Religion, and Rationality
    (pp. 103-129)

    We saw in Chapters 1 and 2 that although the humane treatment principle purports to reject the infliction of unnecessary suffering on animals, the overwhelming amount of suffering that we do inflict cannot be described as necessary and occurs merely to facilitate the pleasure, amusement, and convenience that we derive from using animals. In Chapter 3, we saw that the humane treatment principle fails to accord moral significance to animal interests because animals are viewed as property. Even though we claim that animals have moral value and morally significant interests and that we have direct obligations to them, their status...

  12. 6 Having Our Cow and Eating Her Too: Bentham’s Mistake
    (pp. 130-150)

    Jeremy Bentham, the principal architect of the humane treatment principle, rejected the view that we could exclude animals from the moral community because they lacked some particular characteristic, such as rationality, language ability, or self-consciousness. Bentham claimed that this view degraded animals “into the class ofthings”¹ that would be “abandoned without redress to the caprice of a tormentor.”² He maintained that sentience was the only characteristic necessary for moral significance: “a full-grown horse or dog is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as a more conversable animal, than an infant of a day, or a week, or even...

  13. 7 Animal Rights: Your Child or the Dog?
    (pp. 151-166)

    We have seen that our conventional wisdom about animals is shaped by two intuitions. The first is that animals have morally significant interests in not suffering and that we have an obligation directly to them not to inflict unnecessary suffering on them. But because animals are property, the prohibition on the infliction of unnecessary suffering is wholly without meaning. We have seen that in order to take animal interests seriously and to give content to our prohibition against the infliction of unnecessary suffering, it is necessary to apply the principle of equal consideration to animal interests in not suffering. This...

  14. Appendix: Twenty Questions (and Answers)
    (pp. 167-188)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 189-224)
  16. Index
    (pp. 225-229)