Friday, July 10, 2009

The Six Principles of Animal Rights

New animal rights book on its way
July 8, 12:31 PM

While I was promising one free affectionate jab to the chin every hour for one person using the "#vegansgetiton" tag on Twitter, animal rights law professor Gary L. Francione not only started a long-awaited twitter account but announced the release of his newest book, "The Animal Rights Debate: Abolition or Regulation". Click the above image to retweet on Twitter.

Professor Francione is best known for pioneering the Abolitionist Approach which is best explained by the six principles of the animal rights movement:

The Six Principles of the Animal Rights Position

1. The animal rights position maintains that all sentient beings, humans or nonhumans, have one right: the basic right not to be treated as the property of others.

2. Our recognition of the one basic right means that we must abolish, and not merely regulate, institutionalized animal exploitation—because it assumes that animals are the property of humans.

3. Just as we reject racism, sexism, ageism, and heterosexism, we reject speciesism. The species of a sentient being is no more reason to deny the protection of this basic right than race, sex, age, or sexual orientation is a reason to deny membership in the human moral community to other humans.

4. We recognize that we will not abolish overnight the property status of nonhumans, but we will support only those campaigns and positions that explicitly promote the abolitionist agenda. We will not support positions that call for supposedly “improved” regulation of animal exploitation. We reject any campaign that promotes sexism, racism, heterosexism or other forms of discrimination against humans.

5. We recognize that the most important step that any of us can take toward abolition is to adopt the vegan lifestyle and to educate others about veganism. Veganism is the principle of abolition applied to one’s personal life and the consumption of any meat, fowl, fish, or dairy product, or the wearing or use of animal products, is inconsistent with the abolitionist perspective.

6. We recognize the principle of nonviolence as the guiding principle of the animal rights movement.

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This pattern of thinking is the same one that suggests that the life of your child is of no more value than that of an ant. Francione advocates that just as our society should look past gender and race, we should also look past what type of species something is. Not only is this completely ridiculous, but it is also very sad that Francione values humans so little. If he was forced to decide whether to save a mouse or a child from a burning building, it’s scary to think what he might choose.


Bailey Norwood said...

I once wrote a farce of Francione's abolitionist viewpoint claiming we should also outlaw the rearing of children. It can be read at, but just remember, its a farce :)

Anonymous said...

The only "Principle" I can possibly agree with is #6... The rest horrifies me.

Anonymous said...

Some insight in your typical fall-back "burning building" question, an excerpt from an interview with Francione:
"If you believe animals have rights, then that would mean that you think it's all right to choose an animal over a human in a situation of true conflict.

And one of the things I argue in the book is, if I were walking by a burning house, and I saw an elderly person who I knew was dying of a terminal illness, and a young person — two human animals — in that house, and I had time to save only one (by definition I couldn't save both), so I ran in and I saved the young person simply because I made a decision that nothing I would do in that situation would be morally perfect. I could only do what I could do and I would save the young person. Does that mean it's OK to use elderly people in biomedical experiments, or eat them, or put them in rodeos, circuses, or zoos? And the answer is, of course not.

So even if I were walking by the burning house, confronted with saving a human or an animal, and I chose to save the human, what does that tell us? It doesn't tell us that it's OK to eat animals, or to use them in experiments, or anything like that. It tells us that in situations of true conflict, we have to make choices."

Troy Hadrick said...

Actually, your post answers nothing. One of his six principles claims that humans are of no more value than animals. He says it would be speciesism to do otherwise. Interesting that he doesn't actually answer the question. I think he's made it quite clear what the answer would be though.

Humanimal said...

Troy, I don't think any of those six principles says or entails that humans are no more valuable than animals. Francione argues that all sentient beings (read as "all vertebrates + squid and octopi") have the basic right not to be property, but he doesn't deny that some individuals have additional rights. No animal rights theorist has EVER argued that animals should have the right to free speech, bear arms, etc. or that competent, unincarcerated humans should be denied those rights.

Anonymous (July 11) made a valuable point that I think you should reconsider. Francione, like most people, WOULD save a human instead of another animal in a life-or-death situation. I agree it would be monstrous not to do so. The point is that such hypothetical scenarios aren't much use in guiding our moral decisions on an everyday basis. In a life-or-death emergency, I might not help an injured stranger, but that doesn't mean I should ignore injured strangers in everyday situations.

Tim said...

Wow, the burning building chestnut! Such a cliched hypothetical that one of Franciones books featured a burning house on the front and was literally titled "Your child or the dog"

Of course you may consider your child more important than any given nonhuman animal, in fact you may consider it more worthwhile than your neighbours child and in the burning building situation you would be within your rights to prioritise your own child ;this does not suggest that commodifying your neighbours child and making a living from their exploitation is morally defensible, its not.

Anonymous said...

"it is also very sad that Francione values humans so little."

This statement is not so much a reflection of the value Francione gives humans, as a reflection of your perception of his value based on your own low value of animals.

It is only because you appear to attach so little value to animal life (relative to humans) that valuing humans equally would mean having to lower their value.

If you were to attach a higher value to animals to start with(as Francione suggests, that's the whole point!) you would be able to accept giving both animals and humans the same value without need ing to give humans a lower value, and both would be valued highly rather than "so little".

Frankly, it's so obviouse I'm amazed it needs to be explained.