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Professor Gary Francione Argues Abolitionist Position in New Book About Animal Rights

December 21, 2010 – 
“As a practical matter, animal welfare regulation simply does not work,” writes Gary Francione, Distinguished Professor of Law at Rutgers School of Law–Newark, in the new book The Animal Rights Debate: Abolition or Regulation? (Columbia University Press, 2010). Animal protection laws lead neither to the end of animal exploitation nor to a reduction in the use of animals. They only, he argues, make society feel more comfortable about exploiting animals while perpetuating the fundamental immorality of animal use.

Instead what Francione proposes and defends in this debate-style book is “ethical veganism,” which is the rejection of all animal products. “Ethical veganism is the only position that is consistent with the recognition that for purposes of being treated as a thing, the lives of humans and nonhumans are morally equivalent.”

Professor Francione, who also carries the title Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Scholar of Law and Philosophy, is the author of numerous books and articles on animal rights theory and animals and the law. In The Animal Rights Debate: Abolition or Regulation?, he debates Robert Garner, a professor of politics at the University of Leicester who specializes in the philosophy and politics of animal protection. The book pits Garner’s welfarist approach, which focuses on regulating animal use and making it more “humane,” against Francione’s abolitionist approach, which maintains that as long as animals are property, laws requiring “humane” treatment will provide very little protection and will generally be informed by customary industry practices. Moreover, Francione argues that, as a matter of moral theory, we cannot justify using animals as human resources, however “humane” it may be.

According to Stephen Clark, associate editor of the British Journal for the History of Philosophy, “The authors debate practical and theoretical issues clearly, honestly, courteously, and with all the appropriate passion. Neither persuades the other, but both together must persuade many that change is needed.”

Professor Francione has a B.A. in philosophy from the University of Rochester and an M.A. in philosophy and J.D. from the University of Virginia. He clerked for Judge Albert Tate, Jr., U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor of the U.S. Supreme Court. He was an associate at Cravath, Swaine & Moore before joining the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He joined the Rutgers faculty in 1989. Francione and his colleague Adjunct Professor Anna Charlton started and operated the Rutgers Animal Rights Law Clinic from 1990-2000, making Rutgers the first university in the U.S. to have animal rights law as part of the regular academic curriculum. In addition to animal rights, he teaches courses on criminal law, criminal procedure, jurisprudence, and torts.