June 14, 2007

The Resolution for the abolition of meat

A resolution for the abolition of meat was written collectively on the internet(1). Here it is(2):
Because meat production involves killing the animals that are eaten,

because their living conditions and slaughter cause many of them to suffer,

because eating meat isn't necessary,

because sentient beings shouldn't be mistreated or killed unnecessarily,

therefore,

farming, fishing and hunting animals for their flesh, as well as selling and eating animal flesh, should be abolished.

(1) On http://fr.groups.yahoo.com/group/abolitiongroup/, a discussion group (in French) aimed at promoting the abolition of meat. A similar group in English is: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/meatabolition/.
(2) Translated into English by Jane Hendy ; Elizabeth Cherry contributed too.

83 comments:

Achim Stößer said...

This is true, but the same holds for eggs, diary etc., cf. Animal Rights Pictures, go vegan, Animal Liberation, Franciones baselines of a real AR movement etc.

Karin Hilpisch said...

I agree with my previous speaker. And abolition means abolishing ALL animal use:
http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/

Antoine Comiti said...

@karin
>abolition means abolishing
>ALL animal use
"abolition of meat" actually only means, well..., "abolition of meat"...

Estiva said...

Well, in my opinion, this proposal should be discussed on its own merits. If you just see it as a (less good) statement of what someone else has written elsewere, you miss the point.

James Crump said...

I disagree with Antione Comitit that the international movement for the abolition of meat does not imply anything more expansive. For if meat should be abolished because, as is rightly claimed by the international movement for the abolition of meat,
meat eating is unnecessary, then this *logically* implies that all animal use that is unnecessary should also be abolished. Now since no animal use can coherently be described as necessary, the international movement for the abolition of meat also implies that all animal use -- not just meat eating -- should be abolished. This is, I think, parlty what Karin Hilpisch meant when she said that all animal use should be abolished.

Let me just say that I wholeheartedly agree with the international movement for abolition of meat that meat eating should be abolished. But I also agree with Karin Hilpisch and Achim StoBer that all animal use should be abolished and that there is no moral distinction between meat on the one hand and dairy and eggs on the other.

James Crump said...

Estiva: we are discussing this proposal, for we are saying that it is problematic just to seek to abolish meat. If meat eating is wrong because it is unnecessary, then eggs and dairy are also wrong, for they are also unnecessary.

All animal use is an instantiation of the same fundamental moral wrong: the commodification of sentient life.

Sandra said...

I agree with James, who, like Francione, maintains that there is no logical or moral distinction between meat and animal products. As Francione says, there is probably more suffering in a glass of milk than in a pound of steak.

He's right.

Estiva said...

Hi James and Sandra,

I am fully aware that part of our task is writing books, articles, making ideas being discussed and so on. I'm fully aware that in this task, we have to insist that, because animals are sentient, they are moral patients, and should'nt be used as mere ressources. (But I feel too that using only one idea and one author is a desesperatly poor way of thinking )

Now, in my opinion, it's not true that we'll be efficient by using only one method to make things change. It's not true that the only effective method is "evangelization" : "Hello guys, your are quite wrong. I'm going to teach you the right ideas and values. And when you'll be converted, you will display the right behaviour. Become perfect : think and do exactly what I think and do".

Because people are not empty glasses waiting to be filled with what we are eager to pour inside them, we have to use other methods too.
One method is starting from one concrete thing people do (eating animals), making a concrete proposal about this practice (a ban on meat) and using as much energy as we can to make this topic become central.
People don't need to believe that animals and humans are equal to accept to considerer this proposal as a serious one, they can understand it by using their own ethical values. Nevertherless, if we succeed, we' ll initiate a process that will bring a lot attention to what happens to animals, and a lot of attention to what is owed to them, and this will weaken speciesism.

Moreover, even if abolishing meat is not putting and end to animal abuse, nor to speciesism, it would be a fantastic progress in itself.
When people are intending to stop a particular war that kills thousands of people, and are doing that with due consideration of the constraints of the real world, it would be a strange criticism to say : "oh you are misguided, you should rather begin by convincing each inhabitant of the world of the rightness of pacifism".

Your objection about diairy and eggs is irrelevant. This point has been discussed at lenght on the list "meatabolition" (yahoo).

gfrancione said...

Dear Colleagues:

In a society in which it is "normal" to engage in related activities x, y, and z, and we criticize x but not y or z, we at least implicitly distinguish y and z as less morally problematic. To focus on flesh but not to include eggs or dairy is implicitly to say that flesh is somehow "worse" than eggs, dairy, etc. Given that eggs and dairy products result in at least as much animal suffering and death, such a distinction makes no sense. Moreover, many of those who stop eating flesh actually increase their consumption of other animal products.

Frankly, distinguishing between flesh and other animal products is like distinguishing between the flesh of large cows and the flesh of small cows.

Gary L. Francione
Professor, Rutgers University

Estiva said...

The French Committee for the launch of the movement for the abolition of meat is building a FAQ. Here is an excerpt :

___________________________

"What about other animal products beyond meat (milk, eggs, ...)?

For most people, these products are perceived differently because it seems that they do not necessitate to kill animals. However, in practice, to abolish meat is to also reconsider eggs and milk, or at least the quasi-totality of current production. In fact, the consumption of these products is not at all necessary for a healthy diet, and:

- the animals concerned (cows, chickens, …) are also killed for meat
- the calves born to start milk production are killed for meat
- the male chicks —born from all laying hens— are killed shortly after their birth
- and, just as for meat, our societies’ capacity to provide a decent life to these animals remains to be established".
___________________________

Some progress can be made for part of the animals raised for meat (eggs, milk). But it is very unlikely that providing decent lives to all of them, or even to the main part, is an accessible goal.

gfrancione said...
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gfrancione said...

I am a bit confused by this.

First, you say:

1. "just as for meat, our societies’ capacity to provide a decent life to these animals remains to be established".

and

"Some progress can be made for part of the animals raised for meat (eggs, milk). But it is very unlikely that providing decent lives to all of them, or even to the main part, is an accessible goal."

Does this mean that if nonhumans (whether used for meat or other products) are provided with a "decent life," then it is morally acceptable to exploit them?

Second, do you dispute that there is no morally significant difference between meat and other animal products?

Third, do you deny that a campaign that focuses on meat implicitly distinguishes other animal products as less morally problematic and may even encourage their consumption?

Gary L. Francione
Professor, Rutgers University

Estiva said...

Hi everybody,

Here are my answers to the questions raised by Gary Francione.

GF- "Some progress can be made for part of the animals raised for meat (eggs, milk). But it is very unlikely that providing decent lives to all of them, or even to the main part, is an accessible goal."
Does this mean that if nonhumans (whether used for meat or other products) are provided with a "decent life," then it is morally acceptable to exploit them?

ER. That was not the point.
The two sentences of mine you quote are admittedly too elliptic to be understood. The meaning is clear enough, but the reason why I wrote them is not.

What I meant is that in my opinion the meat abolition movement should stress that the generalization of animal welfare in farming is not an accessible goal. As I'm not fluent in English, I can't offer an explanation displaying all the abstract or general arguments that would be needed. So, I try to explain my view by mean of a digression :

Among animal activists, on Internet forums, you often find this kind of discussion :
"Imagine a rabbit family. They have a marvellous life. Then all of them are killed (a painless death) and replaced by an other rabbit family that has a marvellous life. It would nevertherless be wrong to kill the first family, isn't it ?"
If this was a way to introduce a philosophical debate about killing, life and death, everything would be OK. But the real aim of the discussion is to give one's opinion about animal welfare improvements. The problem is that when this topic is discussed in this way, the implicit assumption (the same assumption as the one made by the general public) is : if we go on with welfare improvements, the life of animals raised for meat will soon look like the marvellous life of the rabbit family of the story.

[Sometimes the reverse view is defended on Internet forums : that the suffering of animals is the same in all kinds of farming, that it is the same in standard industrial farming or in farms that really fullfill the commitment to put in practice some improvements. Even if it's true that much of the needs of animals are not met even in this case, and that they are still slaughtered, we should not use the argument that there's no difference at all. Using false arguments weakens our credibility.]

The crucial fact that is put aside in the discussions about rabbit families living marvellous lives is that we cannot expect animal farming to evolve in such a way that ultimately all animals will have decent lives and painless deaths.

Undervaluing this fact is a fault. If we don't use it in our argumentation, we allow the public debate about animal agriculture to be his one : citizens have to choose between two futures :
- banning meat (a)
- or eating animals who will have had decent lives followed by a painless death (b)

In my opinion, whe should stress that the alternative (b) is not available. It is an honest argument (a true statement). And it is a meaningfull argument both for those who maintain that killing animals is a crime, and for those who maintain that it is not. Most meat-eaters say that they are against the mistreatment of animals. If we succeed in dissipating the illusion of generalized animal welfare in animal agriculture, it will help to make them consider the proposal of banning meat as a serious one, a proposal that is consistent with their own moral values.


GF _ Second, do you dispute that there is a morally significant difference between meat and other animal products?

ER - I don't maintain that there is a difference that would make using animals for meat morally worse than any other use of them. For instance there's not a morally significant difference between eating rabbits or wearing rabbits' fur.

What we are intending to do is not offering a new theory about speciesism. If we had such a project, "Why meat and not fur or bull fighting ?" would of course be a very accurate criticism.
But "Meat abolition" is a political claim. The target is just one aspect of human violence against animals (but the central one).


GF - Third, do you deny that a campaign that focuses on meat implicitly distinguishes other animal products as less morally problematic and may even encourage their consumption?

ER - Yes, I deny that.
Maintaining the opposite would lead to condemn all movements or campains that aim at less that putting an end to all suffering and injustice in the universe.
For instance some activists are involved in getting better health care for people suffering of aids in Africa. I will certainly not say that their action implies that malnutrition in Africa is less problematic or that they are encouraging us to let people starve in poor countries.

Nor does getting involved in such "specialized" movements imply that one thinks that ethical thinking at a general level (about justice, equality, right and wrong and so on) is useless. Ethical thinking is needed too.

Estiva

Antoine Comiti said...

To better understand the nature of the movement for the abolition of meat, think that the movement for the abolition of (human legal) slavery was not "the movement for the abolition of all human exploitation". People supporting the abolition of slavery did not all share the same view on human equality, some were opposed to the Rights of Man, and many were quite racists. They did not have to agree whether the wage system was ok or wrong. But all agreed that the institution of slavery had to be abolished.

Some animal activists today are worried that a movement for the abolition of meat may develop as they realize that many speciesist people will support this movement. Others, like me, think that this is not a liability, but an opportunity (for abolishing meat, dismantling animal agriculture, and weakening speciesism).

The movement for the abolition of meat is not a campaign (as ary Francione called it). It is a movement. It is, by definition, the sum of all people who think meat should be abolished. There is no central politic bureau, or guru, mandated to express an official position on various issues closely or remotely connected to the abolition of meat.

Gary Francione asked:
do you deny that a campaign that focuses on meat implicitly distinguishes other animal products as less morally problematic and may even encourage their consumption?

A movement that builds public support to the point that meat can be abolished, and this mainly on the argument of the harm done to animals and education of the public about the reality of animal agriculture, a movement in which movement animal rights/antispeciest activists play a prominent role (ie people who are careful not to use speciest arguments, and who explicitely present plant-based diet as the alternative to meat, and who know that egg/milk/etc. production are, in practice, same as meat production and thus won't mislead the public about that) is a movement that will also set the public against animal agriculture in general.

For several reasons I don't think the phrase "dismantlement of animal agriculture" is a good political demand. I think "abolition of meat" is. But in practice building public support to the point that meat is about to be abolished really is dismantling animal agriculture.

gfrancione said...

Estiva:

I have two comments:

First, it appears to me that your movement or campaign or whatever you wish to call it invites the response that it is possible to improve animal welfare so that animals have a "decent" life. You may think that, as a practical matter, this is not possible. But many advocates, including Singer, talk as though it is, and this notion is the engine that drives the new welfare movement.

I should add that I disagree with your assessments about the supposedly better farming situations. For the most part, I think that is a myth and that animal interests receive little protection whether, for instance, the animals are in battery cages or in a "cage-free" situation.

Second, I think your analogies fail. I ask:

"Do you deny that a campaign that focuses on meat implicitly distinguishes other animal products as less morally problematic and may even encourage their consumption?"

You respond:

"Yes, I deny that. Maintaining the opposite would lead to condemn all movements or campains that aim at less that putting an end to all suffering and injustice in the universe. For instance some activists are involved in getting better health care for people suffering of aids in Africa. I will certainly not say that their action implies that malnutrition in Africa is less problematic or that they are encouraging us to let people starve in poor countries."

Your analogies do not work. For example, we all think that genocide is a bad thing. So deciding to work to end genocide in Darfur does not mean that we regard the genocide of any other group as acceptable or morally better. We think that malnutrition and AIDS are both morally undesirable. Choosing to work to end one does not mean that we approve of the other.

However, where meat, eggs, and dairy are all considered as "normal" activities, condemning meat at least implicitly distinguishes other animal products as less morally problematic in a way that simply does not occur with the other examples. And I have over the years seen reports and studies that show that many people who stop eating flesh eat more cheese, eggs, fish, etc.

Gary

Gary L. Francione
Professor, Rutgers University

David Olivier said...

"To focus on flesh but not to include eggs or dairy is implicitly to say that flesh is somehow "worse" than eggs, dairy, etc."

Gary, it is not true that to criticize x is to say, implicitly or otherwise, that y and z are better. Some people will probably see such an implication, but we are not responsible of everything someone will read into our words.

Furthermore, the issue that matters is not whether people will think that y and z are better than x, and that they may then be believing something that is not true. What matters is: will the mouvement to abolish x make people think better of y and z than they currently do? Or instead make them think worse of y and z than they currently do?

It seems obvious that any mouvement to abolish meat, focusing on what meat production implies for the animals (in terms of suffering and killing) will, by the mere fact that it focuses on the interests of the animals, make people more open to criticism of the production of eggs and milk. The mouvement for the abolition of meat also in no way implies that anyone should stop promoting veganism and denouncing the horrors of the egg and milk industries.

Estiva said...
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Estiva said...
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Estiva said...

I think this is not the right place for me to discuss at length whether welfare improvements are (or not) part of the steps that will help to weaken speciesism, or whether they really alleviate the suffering of animals. It is is not the right place because sharing a particular view about welfarism (yours, Singer's or another one) is not a condition to join the meat abolition movement .

Antoine Comiti stressed that the meat abolition movement is not a campaign. Nor is it an organization. Anyone who wants to get meat banned (to put an end to animal agriculture) for the sake of animals, and to devote some energy to this specific goal is part of the movement. The only common basis is the resolution reported in this blog. This resolution is not empty. It does'nt just say "meat should be banned". It links this claim to our duty not to harm or kill animals for mere convenience.

The resolution has deliberatly been worded in order to be acceptable by people who think that we should give equal consideration to humans and nonhuman animals (in the way you do, but as well in the way Singer, Dunayer, Regan... do)and to be acceptable too for speciesist people who nevertherless agree that we should give some consideration to the interests of animals.

Of course, we are not just going to repeat the resolution and nothing else to get support in the public. But, the argumentation of each person invloved in this movement needs not to be exactly the same. Maybe you don't agree with something Antoine has written of with some of my comments. Remember that this is a *personal* blog, and that when I comment, my opinion is just *my* opinion.

Sorry, I can't answer to the end of your comment (about "Choosing to work to end one does not mean that we approve of the other" and about fish, milk and eggs), because I can't grasp where whe are supposed to dissent.


Estiva

David Olivier said...

Gary Francione:

"And I have over the years seen reports and studies that show that many people who stop eating flesh eat more cheese, eggs, fish, etc."

So have I.

(Apart from your mentioning fish; fish is included in the word "meat" as it is used here.)

So have I, I said, and I myself, when I stopped eating animals, for a period ate a lot more eggs. It is true that it was probably worse for the animals, in terms of the suffering implied for their production, than when I directly ate animals.

But then, that is an utilitarian argument. If you want to use utilitarian arguments, then you should use them as an utilitarian would, and take into account not only the immediate effects, i.e. those implied by the production of the goods, but also the long-term effects. You can't just point out that people often eat more eggs for some period after becoming vegetarian. You must examine their becoming vegetarian from a political perspective. And from that perspective it seems obvious that abandoning meat is a key step.

Karin Hilpisch said...

David Olivier writes: “You must examine their becoming vegetarian from a political perspective. And from that perspective it seems obvious that abandoning meat is a key step.“

To me, this does not seem obvious at all. It only would if there was a logical or moral distinction between flesh eating on the one hand, and consuming dairy, eggs, etc. on the other. But exactly this difference does not exist. And apart from any (allegedly)utilitarian arguments which we gladly leave to the utilitarians, from a political perspective, if that persective is the eradication of speciesism, becoming vegan – and promoting veganism - is the only way to go.
And to me, there is NO other political perspective.

James Crump said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James Crump said...

David Olivier:”But then, that is an utilitarian argument. If you want to use utilitarian arguments, then you should use them as an utilitarian would, and take into account not only the immediate effects, i.e. those implied by the production of the goods, but also the long-term effects.”

If we take consequences seriously, we are not thereby committed to one-dimensionally restricting what is “strictly speaking” morally perspicuous in descriptions of action a la utilitarianism. Thus the fact that Francione takes consequences seriously neither means that he is advancing utilitarian arguments nor commits him to using those arguments as utilitarians would.

David Olivier: “You can't just point out that people often eat more eggs for some period after becoming vegetarian. You must examine their becoming vegetarian from a political perspective. And from that perspective it seems obvious that abandoning meat is a key step.”

The difference in extrinsic value that we arbitrarily accord to farm animals (e.g. cows, pigs, chickens) on the one hand and pets (e.g. cats and dogs) on the other is a salient aspect of speciesism and one of the bases of the flesh selling industry. In distinguishing between meat on the one hand and dairy and eggs on the other, the anti-meat campaign feeds into the speciesistic basis of the very industry that it is designed to abolish.

gfrancione said...

The support for the "meat abolition" campaign, movement, theory, or whatever it is, appears to be based on the notion that those who give up meat will re-evaluate the use of nonhumans generally, and that focusing on meat does not implicitly distinguish other animal products as less morally problematic.

This approach is really no different from the new welfarist view that incremental welfarist reform will lead to a re-evaluation of animal use generally (it has not) and that single-issue campaigns (movements, or whatever) do not implicitly send messages about the moral differences among various forms of animal exploitation (they do). In any event, just as that reasoning does not work in the rights vs. new welfarist context, it does not, I fear, work here.

But the important point is that abolishing animal agriculture is the only position that is consistent with the deontological approach that regards nonhumans as having inherent value (i.e., value that goes beyond being an economic commodity). I recognize that you may not agree with my view on that matter.

Thank you for a stimulating discussion and I wish you the best of luck in your efforts, particularly if they lead to veganism.

GLF

Gary L. Francione
Professor, Rutgers University

David Olivier said...

Karin Hilpisch: "To me, this [that from a political perspective abandoning meat is a key step] does not seem obvious at all. It only would if there was a logical or moral distinction between flesh eating on the one hand, and consuming dairy, eggs, etc. on the other."

That is simply a non-sequitur. Politics is not reducible to logics and morals (which does not mean that logics and morals have no importance in politics).

Furthermore, the fact that, at a certain level, there is no great ethical difference between meat, eggs and milk is precisely a reason why people who give up meat tend to eventually give up eggs and milk. So your argument, in so far as it has any weight, actually weighs against what you try to make it imply.

James Crump: "If we take consequences seriously, we are not thereby committed to one-dimensionally restricting what is “strictly speaking” morally perspicuous in descriptions of action a la utilitarianism."

I hardly understand a word of that, could you rephrase?

James Crump: "Thus the fact that Francione takes consequences seriously neither means that he is advancing utilitarian arguments nor commits him to using those arguments as utilitarians would."

You can't eat your cake and have it too.

Gfrancione: "The support for the "meat abolition" campaign, movement, theory, or whatever it is..."

You were told it is a movement.

Gfrancione: "... appears to be based on the notion that those who give up meat will re-evaluate the use of nonhumans generally"

No, no one said that, and it seems that your inability to grasp the difference between a campaign and a movement is behind your inability to understand what we are talking about. It is not that meat will be abolished some blessed evening and that from then on people, being deprived of meat, will (for some obscure reason) start to ponder on the ethics of eggs and milk.

It is that our societies, through debate, are to be brought to recognize that raising animals for food, because it implies bad welfare and unnecessary killing, is not morally acceptable. That implies that the ethical status of animals will be at the heart of the debate. If you believe in the soundness of your point of view on the matter, you should then have ample opportunity to voice your arguments and win people over to your flavor of abolitionism.

gfrancione said...

David Olivier:

This "movement" has been described explicitly by its supporters as:

(1) something that will be based on the fact that a "decent" life for most food animals is not possible as an empirical matter;

(2) something that will lead to reconsideration of the morality of other animal products because the ethical status of animals will be the focus of the debate.

This sort of approach is not likely to lead to anything more than discussion about "bad welfare." That is certainly what has occurred to date as you are, I fear, not the first person or group to propose such an approach.

Let me add that a utilitarian is one who maintains that the rightness or wrongness of an action is determined by consequences alone. I am not saying that the meat "movement" is problematic because of consequences alone; I have a problem with it primarily because it is based on notions of "decent" treatment and that is inconsistent with my view that sentients have a morally significant interest in continued existence irrespective of how they are raised or killed. I also think that such a "movement" necessarily characterizes some uses of animals as having a different (and less objectionable) moral status and that is a matter of fundamental moral theory.

But I am curious as to where you ever got the idea that a deontological approach could never consider consequences. Normative theory--whether deontological or consequential--requires considerations of consequences in many respects. For example, to say that x should treat y as an end and not exclusively as a means suggests that certain forms of treatment will have the consequence of treating x as an end. The issue is whether consequences alone determine normative status.

I repeat that I sincerely wish you the best of luck in this endeavor to the extent that it pushes the discussion beyond issues of welfare.

GLF

Gary L. Francione
Professor, Rutgers University

gfrancione said...

A follow-up question to the supporters of the meat-abolition movement:

Can you generalize as to whether the people most active in your effort are vegan? I am assuming that Antoine, Estiva, and David are vegans, is that correct?

Gary

Gary L. Francione
Professor, Rutgers University

Antoine Comiti said...

Gary wrote:
>A follow-up question to the supporters of the meat-abolition movement:
Again, whether you realize it or not, you are part of this movement: you want meat to be abolished.
Now you say you want that other things happens together with the progress of the idea of abolishing meat, and you have your own ideas as to how to make this happens (emphasizing personal veganism, using arguments on exploitation and on human health consequences of eating meat, etc.) which some other people in the movement do support, while others do not. But still you're part of it: you say you want meat to be abolished (it is not "the movement for the abolition of meat except the way Gary Francione wants it to be like").

>I am assuming that Antoine, Estiva, and David are vegans, is that correct?
No, I'm not: I do not, in all circumstances, boycott all animal products (neither do I refuse to sit in a taxi that has seat with leather, nor refuse to pay taxes although that helps subsidize animal agriculture, etc.).

Which doesn't mean I think that I don't see ethical problems with these products: I do, and that's why I militate against them. (I actually see problems in many non-animal products I don't boycott).

That's actually a key point to understand about a political movement: that the behavior you have as a consumer is not fully consistent (and in some cases cannot be) with the political reforms that you support as a citizen. (see the domain of the environment for instance).

Obviously you also have political movements made of people who behave almost consistently opposite to the idea they claim to fight for... :-))

>Can you generalize as to whether the people most active in your effort are vegan?
I suppose that most (but certainly not all) are, if not vegan, quasi-vegan. But that I mean: boycotting most animal products beyond meat, and certainly thinking that the problem is with animal agriculture in general, and fur, animal experiments, etc., not just meat production.

But obviously you'd expect the most active (and sincere) people in any social/political movement to hold the most coherent ("radical") views and behave more or less accordingly, behind the more limited political demand that the movement asks for. I suppose that many of the most active activists against the Vietnam war were also against taking part in any kind of war, and did their best not to collaborate to military institutions directly or indirectly (boycotts, etc.). But the movement against the Vietnam war was larger than them, and that's one reason they were politically strong (on the demand that US military involvement in Vietnam be ended).

What is the point you intended to make?

Antoine

gfrancione said...

Antoine:

First, I want meat to be abolished but my objection to meat is not related to the welfarist concerns that characterize your "Resolution." Moreover, I draw no distinction between meat and other animal products. Our approaches are quite different.

Second, if the leaders of the meat-abolition movement have not re-evaluated animal exploitation in their own lives, then that speaks volumes to me about this "movement." It is similar to a "movement" that seeks the abolition of slavery but whose most active members feel comfortable in continuing to own slaves.

I agree that in a world in which animals are exploited to the degree that they are, it is impossible to avoid animals entirely (e.g., the fact that animal products are used in road paving materials, etc). But that does not mean that it is morally permissible to participate in animal exploitation when the matter is within your choice--such as what you are going to eat or wear.

GLF

Gary L. Francione
Professor, Rutgers University

Antoine Comiti said...

Gary, you wrote:
>I want meat to be abolished but my objection to meat is not related to the welfarist concerns that characterize your "Resolution."

I do not claim that the movement for the abolition of meat is only made of people who agree with this resolution. The movement for the abolition of meat is made of people who want meat abolished. The resolution is just one (short) answer to the question "But why meat should be abolished?" and it was worded so as to appeal to a large public (both speciest and antispeciesist). But I do understand that there are people (like you surprisingly) who think that meat should be abolished, but that the fact that animals are killed and suffer for meat are not enough reasons for abolishing it.
Antoine

Antoine Comiti said...

Gary, you wrote:
>if the leaders of the meat-abolition movement have not re-evaluated animal exploitation in their own lives, then that speaks volumes to me about this "movement." It is similar to a "movement" that seeks the abolition of slavery but whose most active members feel comfortable in continuing to own slaves.

Yes it would be a strange movement indeed if that were the case.

The fact that you seem more interested in ethics research and personal "purity" than on political perspectives speaks volume to me about why you've so far succeeded in gathering a group of followers - but not in inspiring a political movement.
Antoine

Antoine Comiti said...

Gary, you wrote:
>I agree that in a world in which animals are exploited to the degree that they are, it is impossible to avoid animals entirely (e.g., the fact that animal products are used in road paving materials, etc). But that does not mean that it is morally permissible to participate in animal exploitation when the matter is within your choice--such as what you are going to eat or wear

It looks like you are drawing the line between what's "morally permissible" and what's not exactly along the line of what you, Gary, found comfortable to practice in your daily life.

Let's suppose you have a bank account in a conventional bank (which has part of your money invested in animal exploitation, like conventional banks do). Whether you have a bank account is "within your choice", as you say. Some people do not have bank accounts. But you've decided that's since it's too inconvenient for you not to have one, then it's "morally permissible" to have some money invested in animal exploitation.

Same for paying taxes. You have choice. Thoreau refused to pay the poll tax. But, yes, choosing to refuse to pay taxes has inconvenient consequences. So I suppose that if you decided to pay taxes, you also decided that in that case subsidizing animal exploitation is "morally permissible".

Same for buying vegan food and cosmetics in stores that also sell non-vegan products. Etc. Etc.

(I hope you understand that I am not accusing you to have opened a bank account, payed taxes, done shopping in conventional stores, etc. I have no idea whether you actually do all these things, and I really do not care. But let's suppose, for the sake of reasoning, you actually do all that)

No doubt you can develop sophisticated (and probably utilitarian) justifications for each of these cases, explaining why your personal conduct in these cases are in fact "morally permissible", with regard to your own situation (profession, family situation, etc.).

To me the bottom line is:
"Morally permissible" means "what Gary found convenient to practice in his own life".
Corollary: People who don't live like Gary lives are behaving badly.
=>That may help explain why you are building a group of followers, not a political movement.
Antoine

Estiva said...

Hi everybody,

I need hours to write a few sentences in English, I'm desesperate not to be able to really take part in this discussion :-(((

Here are some disordered notes :

=> OK, for animals the problem with meat is the same as the problem with eggs or milk. We are quite receptive to this idea, and are aware that all of us have to manage the MAV so that it does'nt favour, but on the opposite weaken, other animal productions too. But some of our contradictors should understand that the accusation "The MAV aims at telling people that eggs and milk are OK" is not a good starting point for a discussion between people who aim at the same goal.

=> We are not "the leaders of the meat-abolition movement ". A least, I'm not the leader of anything.
Am I vegan ? Well, not perfectly. I'm almost vegan in wearing and eating. But sometimes I buy products with the mention... oh ! how do you call this ? ... in French "traces de lait et d'oeufs" : it means products that are vegan but can contain some molecules coming from eggs or milk because they are cooked in the same recipents that are used to cook non-vegan products.
For cosmetics I'm mainly but not absolutly vegan : I buy toothpaste at the supermarket, instead to drive farther (to an orgnanic store) to find toothpaste certified "no test on animals".
(When historians of the future will study this blog, as one of the vestiges of the start of the MAV, a blog containing some comments from the famous Gary Francione, they will learn at the same time about the sin of Estiva Reus about toothpaste. Finally, my life will not be a fruitless one. I will succeed in handing down something to posterity...)

(3) Gary, you write "the welfarist concerns that characterize your "Resolution" ". What welfarist concerns ? Do you write this because of this sentence : "because their living conditions and slaughter cause many of them to suffer" ? But without being a welfarist or an utilitarian, one does admit that it is wrong to make sentient beings suffer, isn't it ?
Maybe you refer to the fact that Antoine and me wrote that a decent life for most animals is not possible. I think this empirical fact is an important one to support the abolition of animal agriculture. But other people can think otherwise and nevertherless join the MAV. Agreeing that this argument is a good one, or using it, is not a condition to join.

Estiva

benio said...

Hi everybody,

My English is not fluent, therefore, instead of giving my opinion, I will just post the following guidelines about the abolition of animal tests proposed by Gary Francione in his interview "The abolitionist theory - part one" and ask him why the abolition of a particular but significant field of exploitation is good when it is proposed by him but not when it is proposed by others:

«These criteria involve prohibitions of significant institutional activities, as opposed to regulation or relatively minor prohibitions. For example, a prohibition on the use of any leghold trap is to be preferred over a requirement that any trapping be done “humanely,” or with the use of a “padded” leghold trap. Moreover, the measure should be explicitly promoted as recognising that nonhumans had interests apart from their utility to humans and where the interest recognised was accepted as not able to be ignored when it would benefit humans to do so. This is important because the only way that incrementalist measures like this can be effective is if they serve as the foundation for further incremental change, and they cannot do this if they are not explicitly based on the inherent value of nonhumans and the non-tradability of at least some of their interests. Finally, I argued that animal advocates should never be in a position of promoting an alternative, more “humane” form of exploitation, and that any incremental legislative or regulatory measure ought to be accompanied by an unrelenting and clear call for the abolition of all institutional exploitation. An example of the sort of measure that would satisfy these criteria would be a prohibition on the use of animals for a particular sort of experiment, such as a ban on the use of all animals in psychological experiments based on the fact that animals have interests in not being used for such experiments irrespective of human benefits.»

Agnese

David Olivier said...

"Can you generalize as to whether the people most active in your effort are vegan? I am assuming that Antoine, Estiva, and David are vegans, is that correct?"

I don't really see the point in answering.

David

James Crump said...

Benio:

The categorical, qualitative difference between the anti-meat campaign and campaigns that satisfy Francione's abolitionist criteria is that the latter are acceptable if and only if they occur within a framework of opposition to the totality of institutionalzed animal exploitation. The anti-meat campaign does not satisfy Francione's criteria precisely because it is not backed up by a call for the abolition of all animal use.

James Crump said...

Antoine:

You claim that "It looks like you are drawing the line between what's 'morally permissible' and what's not exactly along the line of what you, Gary, found comfortable to practice in your daily life." This is false. Francione draws the line at those practices that involve the commodification of animals. This is perfectly rational as the basic right animals have is the right not to be property.

By contrast, it looks like you are drawing the line between what's 'morally permissible' and what's not exactly along the line of what you, Antoine, found comfortable to practice in your daily life. For you are running a campaign that arbitrarily opposes some forms of animal commodification but not others.

Moreover, it is inapposite to compare practices that do not involve the commodificaton of animals, but that may contribute to animal suffering in some way, with those that do involve the commodification of animals. For the latter violate animals' basic right whereas the former do not. This is the categorical, qualitative difference. This in turn is why it it not arbitrary or about personal "purity" for Francione to explicitly object to all practices that involve the use of animals as property.

Karin Hilpisch said...

James, before anybody starts complaining again because he hardly understands a word of what you write, let me rephrase: Someone who morally analogizes the consumption of animal products to paying taxes is - well, someone who, whatever movement he might be running, and to which effect, has already succeeded in demonstrating one thing: That he is not to be taken seriously as an opponent in a rational debate. Let's forget about him.

Antoine Comiti said...

James, you wrote:
>You claim that "It looks like you are drawing the line between what's 'morally permissible' and what's not exactly along the line of what you, Gary, found comfortable to practice in your daily life." This is false. Francione draws the line at those practices that involve the commodification of animals.

No. Gary said that it is not "morally permissible to participate in animal exploitation when the matter is within your choice". I understand that he meant that it is "morally permissible to participate in animal exploitation" in other cases.

But what one considers as "a matter within your choice" is often very subjective... (ie it depends on your willingness to make decisions that have inconvenient consequences for you in your situation). See my examples of taxes, bank account, etc.

Antoine

Antoine Comiti said...

Karin wrote:
>James, before anybody starts complaining again because he hardly understands a word of what you write, let me rephrase

So now we have three non-compatible definitions of what "morally permissible":
Gary's own definition, James' analysis of Gary's definition, and Karin's rephrasing of James' analysis of Gary's...

>Let's forget about him.
Yes please, I'm getting confused!
:-)
Antoine

James Crump said...

As I said before, the way we arbitrarily accord animal species different extrinsic values is a salient aspect of speciesism in general and one of the bases of the meat industry in particular. (If we accorded farm animals the same value as e.g. cats and dogs we would not eat them.) Since the politics is speciesism, and since one of the bases of the meat industries is the way we arbitrarily accord farm animals less extrinsic value than certain other animals, it does not make sense to run a political anti-meat that implies that there is a difference between meat on the one hand and dairy and eggs on the other, for it thereby feeds into the very speciesistic basis of the industry that it opposes.

gfrancione said...

Now I understand.

We cannot be perfect and avoid all moral hazards so we have no obligation to do anything. To apply this principle in the present context: since we must pay taxes or go to jail, we have no obligation to be vegans; since road paving surfaces often contain animal products, we have no obligation to be vegan.

The mental gymnastics to which some will go to avoid veganism never cease to amaze me.

Gary L. Francione
Professor, Rutgers University

James Crump said...

One advocate of the anti-meat campaign has said that the fact that speciesists can support the anti-meat campaign will make it stronger. No, it will not. On the contrary, the fact that speciesists can support the anti-meat campaign shows that the anti-meat campaign does not oppose the meat industry at all. This is because distinguishing meat from dairy and eggs fatally undermines the anti-meat campaign. For speciesistic moral schizophrenia, that is, the way we arbitrarily distinguish between animal uses and animal species, is the basis of the meat industry. As I said, if we took farm animals to be as extrinsically valuable as cats and dogs, we would not eat them. Therefore, the anti-meat campaign does not oppose the meat industry; on the contrary, because it distinguishes meat from dairy and eggs, it confirms the legitimacy of the very speciesistic distinction upon which the meat industry is built.

James Crump said...

David questioned what was the point of Francione's asking whether the advocates of the anti-meat campaign are vegan. In order to oppose the meat industry, you need to oppose speciesistic moral schizophrenia, which is its basis. In order to oppose speciesistic moral schizophrenia, you need to stop arbitrarily distinguishing between animal species and animal uses -- and go vegan.

Thus in order to effectively oppose the meat industry, you need to go vegan yourself (otherwise you are helping to sustain the moral schizophrenia which is the basis of the meat industry) and to run campaigns based on veganism, that is, the explicit rejection of moral schizophrenia.

Thus veganism is the key to the abolition of meat in particular and animal exploitation in general.

Antoine Comiti said...

Thank you Gary for your frank admission that after all these years, you still don't have much clue about the socio-psychological aspects of the movement you wished to enlighten - and this despite your own inconsistent behavior ready to be analyzed right before your eyes.
Antoine

David Olivier said...

James Crump: "The categorical, qualitative difference between the anti-meat campaign and campaigns that satisfy Francione's abolitionist criteria is that the latter are acceptable if and only if they occur within a framework of opposition to the totality of institutionalzed animal exploitation. The anti-meat campaign does not satisfy Francione's criteria precisely because it is not backed up by a call for the abolition of all animal use."

So a call for banning the leghold trap - not even of all trapping, just of the mere leghold trap - is acceptable, but a call for banning meat is not acceptable, is not radical enough; and the reason for this difference is that in the first case someone added "and all animal exploitation with it".

Now let's try to be serious about saying that. Let's imagine you say "abolish the leghold trap and all animal exploitation", and take the part about animal exploitation as more than a mere mantra. Then the first part, about the leghold trap, is useless. If you abolish all animal exploitation, that includes the leghold trap, so why mention it? Why mention the leghold trap and not the thousands of other forms of exploitation that will be banned when all animal exploitation is banned? I don't suppose that you will claim that there is some "logical or moral distinction" between leghold traps and those other forms!

There may be no "logical or moral distinction" between leghold traps and other forms of animal exploitation, but there is one difference that you obviously do recognize: you hope to really secure a ban of the leghold traps, but not of all animal exploitation, at least not within the same timeframe and as a direct effect of the campaign. So the call for the banning of all animal exploitation is not really an aim of the campaign; it is simply a statement of opinion.

Quibbling about the movement for the abolition of meat not including eggs and milk is thus beside the point. If it did include eggs and milk, you would still say: it does not call for and end of all animal exploitation. If in addition it included the abolition of animal experimentation, you would still say the same. No matter what you can throw in, you will still have the same objection: it does not call for an end of all animal exploitation.

In the end, it is not a matter of what it calls for. It is a matter of whether it does or does not uphold exactly the same standard as Gary Francione, i.e. the right for animals not to be property. There are many ways to analyse speciesism, and even to define it; there are many ways to define animal rights. But if I call for the respect for the inherent value of all subjects of a life, as does Regan; or for an equal consideration of the interests of all sentient beings, as does Singer; or for any other flavor of antispeciesism or animal rights, I am beside the mark. All these different conceptions of ethics have just about the same consequences regarding the issues that are at hand at this stage. All are for banning leghold traps, foie gras, meat generally and most any other of current forms of institutionalized animal exploitation.

It's not about how radical you are, not about how consistent or vegan or dedicated you are, it's about whether you agree or not with the ethical theories of Gary Francione.

David

David Olivier said...

James Crump: "You claim that "It looks like you are drawing the line between what's 'morally permissible' and what's not exactly along the line of what you, Gary, found comfortable to practice in your daily life." This is false. Francione draws the line at those practices that involve the commodification of animals. This is perfectly rational as the basic right animals have is the right not to be property."

gfrancione: "We cannot be perfect and avoid all moral hazards so we have no obligation to do anything. To apply this principle in the present context: since we must pay taxes or go to jail, we have no obligation to be vegans; since road paving surfaces often contain animal products, we have no obligation to be vegan."

I suppose that both of you, like I do, send your messages from a keyboard colored with dyes that were tested on animals. In that and in many other ways we benefit from the commodification of animals. We could also choose not to. We could choose not to use the computer. We could choose not to use roads incorporating animal products. And so on.

Gary, our conclusion in no way was that we should do nothing, and it is disingenuous of you to say so. Our conclusion is that there is no morally salient line between what you choose to do, despite its implying unethical treatement of animals, and what you choose not to do.

It's true that if you want to develop a movement, whether for the abolition of meat or for animal rights™ or anything else, it will be very difficult without a computer and without using the roads. So go ahead, use the computer and the roads, and no one, at least not I, will accuse you of having "not re-evaluated animal exploitation in [your] own [life]", to use your kind words.

But since you see no logical or moral differences between the various forms of animal commodification, and since you are comfortable with using the computer, the roads and paying taxes when it is good for the cause, I don't see why you would have problems with eating some bread and butter, if that was all you found to sustain you on the road to some campus where you are to speak; or for that matter, a ham sandwich or something even worse.

But no, that would make you an utilitarian, and put you on a par with someone who accepts, for the sake of documenting animal abuse, to be hired in a turkey factory - someone you call perverse and suggest will readily rape women and molest children.

No, you won't go that far, you draw the line somewhere, I have no idea where, and I don't think anyone really does, apart from the fact that there are some things that you choose to do and claim that you have to do, and others that you choose not to do and claim that no one has to do, which in turn means that no one may do those things, on pain of being disqualified as "not having re-evaluated the use of animal products in their own lives".

Now you asked Antoine, Estiva and me if we were vegans. I was surprised at first that both Antoine and Estiva answered that they weren't, since as I know them they certainly qualify, by their acts, at least as much as many of your followers who do not hesitate at calling themselves vegans. But then I realized that they are right. Being a vegan is not a matter of what you actually do; it is a matter of how much lip service you pay to the dominant fashionable theory of radicalism (vs welfare, reformism, etc.). Vegan is not a descriptive term, it is tool for mind control. Estiva and Antoine are right: they do not fit in. Neither do I, since you asked.

David

gfrancione said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gfrancione said...

Dear David:

I am terribly disappointed. Instead of engaging the substantive comments that have been proposed about MAV, you and some of your colleagues have assumed a most defensive posture and have attacked anyone who is at all critical of your "movement." So I am saddened to see that no meaningful discussion will be possible. I must, however, take exception to your blatant misrepresentation of my views.

First, you claim that I said in an interview that Singer and Mason would "readily rape women and molest children." That is a completely untrue statement. I said:

It is deeply disturbing that Singer and Mason regard it as morally acceptable to engage in violence against nonhumans for any purpose, particularly to satisfy their curiosity about what “this work really involved.” I suggest that there is no non-speciesist way to justify what Singer and Mason claim to have done without also justifying the rape of a woman, or the molestation of a child, in order to see what those acts of violence “really involved.”

There is a very significant difference between saying that the justification for action x would also apply to the justification of action y without saying that a person would "readily" do x and y. The distinction is not subtle, David, and I assume you meant intentionally to misrepresent my position.

Second, your mis-description of my views on single-issue campaigns is troubling and, again, suggest that you are more interested in "scoring points" than in an honest debate.

I have long argued that animal advocates should avoid single-issue campaigns and should focus instead on creative, nonviolent vegan advocacy. Indeed, it is interesting that "Benio" omitted the paragraphs that preceded what he quoted from me and that made very clear that I DO NOT favor single-issue campaigns.

I argue that IF advocates wish to pursue single issue campaigns, such campaigns should at least have the effect of incrementally reducing the property status of nonhumans. To this end, these campaigns should involve prohibitions of significant forms of exploitation; should be based explicitly on the inherent value of nonhumans and the notion that the animal interests that are the subject of the campaign cannot be sacrificed for human benefit; should never propose supposedly more "humane" forms of exploitation; and should be a part of an explicit overall goal of abolishing all animal use.

The "MAV Movement" does not even meet the criteria that I described above, but, more importantly, it is simply another incoherent approach to the problem of animal exploitation designed by and for people who are looking desperately for reasons not to be vegan or to promote veganism.

By the way, David, if the vegan approach is a "tool for mind control," then MAV must also be a "tool for mind control." Actually, all movements, theories or beliefs can, I suppose, be described as some form of "mind control." MAV appeals to a particular sort of mind, and beyond that, I will not characterize the matter.

Gary L. Francione
Professor, Rutgers University

James Crump said...

So a call for banning the leghold trap - not even of all trapping, just of the mere leghold trap - is acceptable, but a call for banning meat is not acceptable, is not radical enough; and the reason for this difference is that in the first case someone added "and all animal exploitation with it"... Now let's try to be serious about saying that. Let's imagine you say "abolish the leghold trap and all animal exploitation", and take the part about animal exploitation as more than a mere mantra. Then the first part, about the leghold trap, is useless. If you abolish all animal exploitation, that includes the leghold trap, so why mention it? Why mention the leghold trap and not the thousands of other forms of exploitation that will be banned when all animal exploitation is banned? I don't suppose that you will claim that there is some "logical or moral distinction" between leghold traps and those other forms!

David: you profoundly misunderstand what we are saying. Francione’s criteria simply provide normative guidance for those who do support this type of legal change. IF advocates what to support incremental legal change (as opposed to, or as well as, vegan education), THEN they should at least pursue measures that incrementally abolish, rather than merely codify, animals’ property status. The ban on the leghold trap is simply and example of this type of legal change.

Our conclusion is that there is no morally salient line between what you choose to do, despite its implying unethical treatement of animals, and what you choose not to do […] But since you see no logical or moral differences between the various forms of animal commodification, and since you are comfortable with using the computer, the roads and paying taxes when it is good for the cause, I don't see why you would have problems with eating some bread and butter, if that was all you found to sustain you on the road to some campus where you are to speak; or for that matter, a ham sandwich or something even worse.

The conceptual confusion in these paragraphs is the same confusion that underpins the anti-meat campaign. The idea that there is no morally salient difference between (1) not being vegan and (2) paying taxes is absurd. The qualitative difference is that the former involves the commodification of animals, which by definition and necessarily violates their basic rights, whereas the latter does not. It is analogous to saying that there is no difference between (1) owning human slaves oneself and (2) unavoidably contributing in some way to an economy that involves human slavery.

Moreover, the idea that people who want to abolish animal exploitation should take the position that there is no morally salient difference between practices that do, and those that do not, involve the commodification of animals is absurd.

It's a shame that the debate has turned out this way, with distortions, misrepresentations, and hysterical allegations of “mind control.”

Karin Hilpisch said...

“The ‘MAV Movement‘...is simply another incoherent approach to the problem of animal exploitation designed by and for people who are looking desperately for reasons not to be vegan or to promote veganism.“ (Gary Francione)
Exactly. And how desperately those people are looking for reasons not to be vegan or not to promote veganism is demonstrated by the mental gymnastics to morally equate (A) consuming animal products like dairy with (B) using computers, roads, opening a bank account, or paying taxes. For those who seriously consider the analogy between the above mentioned forms A and B of partaking in animal exploitation, I’ve gladly taken the trouble of quoting an excerpt from a book that to read as a whole I highly recommend to them:

"Question: Isn’t taking advantage of medications or procedures developed through the use of animals inconsistent with taking an animal rights position?

Answer: No, it is not. Those who support animal exploitation (all nonvegans, K. H.) often argue that accepting the 'benefits' of animal use is inconsistent with criticizing the use of animals. This position, of course, makes no sense. Most of us are opposed to racial discrimination, and yet we live in a society in which white middle-class people enjoy the benefits of past racial discrimination; that is, the majority enjoys a standard of living that it would not have had there been a nondiscriminatory, equitable distribution of resources, including educational and job opportunities. Many of us support measures, such as affirmative action, that are intended to correct past discrimination. But those who oppose racial discrimination are not obligated to leave the United States or to commit suicide because we cannot avoid the fact that white people are
beneficiaries of past discrimination against people of color.

Consider another example: assume that we find that the local water company employs child labor and we object to child labor. Are we obligated to die of dehydration because the water company has chosen to violate the rights of children? No, of course not. We would be obligated to support the abolition of this use of children, but we would not be obligated to die.(...)
Indeed, the notion that we must either embrace animal exploitation or reject anything that involves animal use is eerily like the reactionary slogan “love it or leave it“ uttered by the pseudo-patriots who criticized opponents of American involvement in the Vietnam War.

Moreover, humans have so commodified animals that it is virtually impossible to avoid animal exploitation completely. Anima byproducts are used in a wide variety of things, including the asphalt on roads and synthetic fabrics. But the impossibility of avoiding all contact with animal exploitation does not mean that we cannot (and are not obligated to, K. H.) avoid the most obvious and serious forms of exploitation. The individual who is not stranded in a lifeboat or on a mountaintop always has it within her power to avoid eating meat and dairy products, PRODUCTS THAT COULD NOT BE PRODUCED WITHOUT THE USE OF ANIMALS, unlike drugs and medical procedures, which could be developed without animal testing.“
Gary L. Francione. Introduction to Animal Rights. Your Child or the Dog? (2000), emphasis added

Karin Hilpisch said...

Sorry, I forgot: page 18o-181

benio said...

Hi Gary,

First of all, if writing "benio" you tried to suggest that I am just somebody else's clone, please read my post again, and notice that I've signed it. My name is Agnese (Pignataro). There are several people who agree with this initiative and, unlike you and your followers, they are different persons with different views. I am one of these persons.

I am not vegan. I stopped eating meat and fish 13 years ago, then ceased gradually eating all animal products until I stopped definitively two years and a half ago. Nevertheless, I don't say that I'm "vegan", precisely to make a difference between me and people like you. I think what I think and I do what I do, but as for what I am, I am Agnese Pignataro and no more.

Concerning the "single issue campaigns should at least have the effect of incrementally reducing the property status of nonhumans" stuff, which, you say, would change the meaning of the quoted paragraph, well, it changes nothing.

You appear convinced - and your followers too - that the abolition of the property status of nonhumans will end all exploitation of nonhumans. There is no empirical or historical evidence for this. Humans did not cease to be exploited when slavery - i.e. the property status of humans - was abolished. Wage labour is different from slavery in its form but not in its substance. You may not accept Marxist theory, of course. Then, what about all the other forms of exploitation which are not based on a property status? For instance, the exploitation of women's domestic labour?

Your political theory is abstract. Your aim is to change abstract relationships. A political movement aims at changing concrete relationships. And this is what the movement for the abolition of meat can help do, in my opinion.

Agnese Pignataro

Follower of Francione said...

Agnese Pignataro: I’m sorry I missed signing my posts, even though I posted my contributions to this *debate* under my real name. Anyway, would you mind taking note of the fact that I am not only abstractly but concretely different from him whose political theory you, unfortunately, have not taken note of or missed understanding ? Thank you.
Karin Hilpisch

benio said...

For the record: I spoke for myself and my opinions don't necessarily reflect those of the other meat abolition movement supporters.

This is a movement, not an association or a "campaign", therefore there are no leaders and no "orthodoxy".

AP

David Olivier said...

Gary, you say our posture is defensive, and perhaps it is, but that only means that we were attacked; and that is not to your honor.

If you don't like the idea of a movement explicitly recognizing the abolition of meat as a key goal without all its members agreeing with your particular formulation of ethics, then you should just pass your way and do what you think right.

I see no plausible theoretical basis for your hostility towards the meat abolition movement initiative; I don't think your attitude has to do with theory, but with issues of power and conceit.

Concerning the reference to your interview and your attacks against Singer and Mason. It would have been a good thing if you had joined in with the meat abolition movement initiative, and I would have been happy to count you as a supporter, whatever I feel about your manners. But since the issue has come up, I will just say that yes, you can protest that you didn't exactly say this and that; and that certainly you know how to phrase things the right way to be immune to libel charges. But you also know that in substance you are attempting to disqualify people by seriously misrepresenting their views, their actions, their intentions and their characters. That is a shameful thing to do, and even more on the part of a leader of a movement that is supposed to bring the world to be a more ethical place.

Again, it is unfortunate that you choose to attack this initiative, instead of recognizing that you are part of the movement for the abolition of meat, but then tant pis.

David

Estiva said...

We coud expect that when an author (choose the one you please) has shown that human behaviour towards animals is unethical, the only thing to do is using his arguments (or our owns) to make other people change their minds and behavior.

Achim, James and others : It's easy for me to understand that one can think this way, as it looks so logical. Nevertheless, logic is much, but it is not all. Some attention has to be paid to human nature.

We can learn from experience that there are people who don't respond to general arguments. Or answer "Yes, you are right" but don't change anything in their ordinary behaviour. We ourselves often behave in this way.

It is difficult to feel (emotionally) that something is wrong when it is something one usually does and most people do as well ("we are not monsters"). What we think about right and wrong is not linked only to logic or abstract thinking, it is linked too to what we do.

From this observation comes the idea that it could be useful to try an other method too : namely focusing on a particular practice (piglets' castration, force feeding, meat...).

So, you focus on this particular practice (force feeding for instance) and you try to make people really think to what happens to ducks and geese. You intend to make the link inescapable between what they do (eating foie gras) and the suffering of birds. You intend to make that they emotionally feel that this practice is wrong. This method requires to concentrate efforts on a particular piece of animal abuse. When you use this method, you hope that, if you succeed in making something change in what people do and think about this particular practice, it will make it easier for them to change what they do and think beyond force feeding (or meat).
Now, if you look at this method from the abstract or general point of view, you object : "This method is absurd. Why force fed ducks rather than laying hens ?"

(I may sometimes myself think it looks somewhat strange, even if I am involved in a campaign against force feeding.)

I'm not intending to start a discussion on welfarism (no no no). Everyone knows the views of everyone on this topic. Who is right depends on empirical datas that, for the main part, are not available. Much of these datas belong to the future. Our views are made of guesses, of our personal limited experience of such or such method working better than an other with such and such persons, and of a few articles read in newspapers.

What I'm intending is to make you feel that swtiching from the question "Why force fed ducks rather than laying hens ?" (OK, you tell you doubts about the efficiency of this kind of action) to the accusation "Your campaign against force-feeding aims at telling people that it's ethical to eat anything but foie gras (or - about the MAV - "anything but meat") is unnecessarily agressive.

Estiva

James Crump said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James Crump said...

Estiva:

You claim the whether welfarism works "depends on empirical datas that, for the main part, are not available. Much of these datas belong to the future." This is not correct. The abolitionist position on welfarism is not merely an empirical claim (although the empirical evidence backs it up). It is a claim about the structural unsoundness of animal welfare in legal frameworks that conceptualize animals as property and humans as the property owners of animals -- a conceptualization of the human-nonhuman conflict that is inherently biased against animal interests.

Karin Hilpisch said...

David Olivier: If I was Gary, I would hardly consider your latest post worthy of commenting on in any respect. But since I am a different person, well, may this be my final contribution. You know, David, having been a vegan for more than seven years, I used to be very much in favour of a focus on flesh eating in activism, because I considered this focus to be the *key* to abolition. This was before I came across Gary Francione’s theory of the property status of animals.

Thoroughly tackling this theory, I’ve found that Gary is right and I was wrong. It took me some time to understand that and why my anti-flesh-only approach was not only not compatible, but inimical to abolition. Of course, a long and hard process of realization does not prove its outcome right. However, openmindedness, the capability of being critical of oneself, of questioning one’s own convictions and intuitions, and being ready to learn are the prerequisites of finding out what is right and what is wrong.

To me, you and the other supporters of the abolition-of-meat movement show neither of those characteristics. Instead, you resort to attacking Gary personally; it’s YOU and not him who meets well-founded counterarguments with hostility. You do so because you have nothing substantive to say in response to what challenges the ideology of your movement. That’s a shame – but nothing special and nothing new. So, if I was Gary, I would not bother any longer with the nothing you have to say; being myself, I’m definitely done with your movement.

All the best,
Karin Hilpisch

James Crump said...

David Olivier:

First, Francione has offered theoretical arguments against a campaign that he thinks is problematic. Your response is to impugn his “honor.” That is ad hominem – trying to discredit Francione's critique by attacking his character.

Second, you claim that Francione should “just pass his way” and let you get with what you are doing. Yet critiquing the anti-meat campaign is part of abolition. For the anti-meat campaign sends the message that meat is relevantly different from dairy and eggs, something that undermines the claim that veganism is a moral imperative. This -- and no other reason -- is why Francione objects to the anti-meat campaign.

Third, you claim that “you [i.e. Francione] also know that in substance you are attempting to disqualify people by seriously misrepresenting their views, their actions, their intentions and their characters.” Yet you provide no evidence to back up these scurrilous allegations and do not even respond to Francione’s previous rebuttal of this very same allegation.

Fourth, you claim that “you [i.e. Francione] choose to attack this initiative, instead of recognizing that you are part of the movement for the abolition of meat.” But how could Francione be part of your anti-meat movement? For in implying that there is an intrinsic difference between meat on the one hand and dairy and eggs on the other, the anti-meat campaign undermines the primary normative claim of the abolitionist movement: that veganism is a moral imperative.

James Crump said...

Re: Estiva's comment on welfarism: the abolitionist position is that welfarism is a priori problematic because of the way the human-nonhuman conflict is conceptualized in our legal systems. Therefore, in order for something to count as a refutation of the abolitionist position, welfarists have to address this a priori, structural problem. This is why the dispute over the validity of welfarism is not merely an empirical dispute and cannot be settled merely by referring to empirical evidence.

David Olivier said...

James Crump: "Your response is to impugn his “honor.” That is ad hominem – trying to discredit Francione's critique by attacking his character."

Yes, it's ad hominem, that's what it is meant to be. No, it's not an oblique attempt to discredit his critique by attacking his character; the issue of the validity of that "critique" has already been settled on its own merits. But since he has come here to offer us that "critique", there is no reason to spare him my opinion about some of the things he has had the nerve to write.

Furthermore, it's a bit ironical for you to try to take such a high-standing tone about ad hominem attacks when just about all you and your trademarked abolitionist movement do is spin out ad hominem attacks against all who do not bow to your vision of the movement. The attacks I pointed out by Francione against Singer and Mason are but one example; there are many others and just as vile. And last but not least, your own message ends with your "trumping" ad hominem attack, i.e. that people who disagree with you do so because they "are not vegan". Perhaps it hasn't occurred to you that it may be the other way around, and that they don't accept to conform to your conceptions of what they should do and should not do because they don't agree with you. No, about all you have to say is that whoever does not agree with you is evil.

James Crump: "For the anti-meat campaign sends the message that meat is relevantly different from meat and eggs"

Those who believe that can send that message, and those who don't can send the opposite message. There is room for both opinions and anyone who believes in Francione's ethical theory can fit in very well, participate openly in the debate within and without the movement and try to convince those who think otherwise. Francione and his followers choose instead to attack - to "counter", as you put it - anyone who does not see everything as he does. That has nothing to do with strengthening the animal movement, it has everything to do with power politics and conceit.

This being said, yes, there is a relevant difference between meat on the one side and milk and eggs on the other, and it is a political and cultural difference. That was already mentioned, and your only answer has been... that saying that is ridiculous, because Estiva, Antoine and I are not vegans.

James Crump: "you claim that “you [i.e. Francione] also know that in substance you are attempting to disqualify people by seriously misrepresenting their views, their actions, their intentions and their characters.” Yet you provide no evidence to back up these allegations and do not even respond to Francione’s previous rebuttal of this very same allegation."

I effect, I didn't. I think that he knows full well what he was doing and that any informed and honest-minded person who goes and reads what he wrote will come to the same conclusions.

James Crump: "you claim that “you [i.e. Francione] choose to attack this initiative, instead of recognizing that you are part of the movement for the abolition of meat.” This proves – dispositively – that you profoundly misunderstand the abolitionist position. In implying that there is an intrinsic difference between meat on the one hand and dairy and eggs on the other, the anti-meat campaign undermines the primary normative claim of the abolitionist movement: that veganism is a moral imperative. How could Francione be part of your anti-meat movement?"

Well, I suppose he's anti-meat, or at least says he is?

About our "profoundly misunderstanding the abolitionist position": you have no copyright on what is "the abolitionist position". You speak all the time as if you did, but that does not make it true.

And again: the movement does not imply anything in itself concerning eggs and milk, if you want to read that into it it is your problem.

James Crump: "And I would just like to add this: the claim that the anti-meat campaign distinguishes meat from dairy and eggs for “political” reasons cannot be taken seriously. It could be taken seriously only if its “leaders” could – per se – run a campaign that did not distinguish meat from dairy and eggs. But they cannot, for they are not vegans themselves. When the personal behaviour of its leaders precludes their running anything but an anti-meat campaign, it is absurd even to claim that the anti-meat campaign has been devised for other reasons."

What has happened is that Francione had somewhat run out of arguments, so decided to question our moral integrity. That's when he "casually" asked if Antoine, Estiva and I were vegans. Not that he or anyone else thinks that it is because we eat eggs every morning and don't want to give them up that we omitted eggs from the abolitionist initiative. But he very well knows that "vegan" is not a descriptive term, it is the catchphrase of his cult, and he knew very well that we didn't fit in. Not because of what we do or don't do, but because we do not bow to his authority. You can go back and read our answers, and you will see that they give no credence to your slanderous assertion about our motives. But that does not matter to you; you have learned the ways of your master.

Yes, by all means, just pass your way.

David

David Olivier said...

Just as a note: I was responding to a previous (9/26/2007 5:52 PM) comment of James Crump, that in the meanwhile he chose to delete (and put in back an hour later, in a somewhat shorter form, apparently expunged of his too blatant ad hominem attack at the end :D).

His original text is below.

David

---- J.C.'s original message:

David Olivier:

First, Francione has offered theoretical arguments against a campaign that he thinks is problematic. Your response is to impugn his “honor.” That is ad hominem – trying to discredit Francione's critique by attacking his character.

Second, the abolitionist movement is a countermovement – it is countering the ineffective responses to the problem of animal exploitation. Thus critiquing the anti-meat campaign is part of abolition. For the anti-meat campaign sends the message that meat is relevantly different from meat and eggs, something which undermines the claim that veganism is a moral imperative. Profoundly misunderstanding this, you claim that Francione should “just pass his way” and let you get with what you are doing. What you are doing is part of the problem. This -- and no other reason -- is why Francione objects to the anti-meat campaign.

Third, you claim that “you [i.e. Francione] also know that in substance you are attempting to disqualify people by seriously misrepresenting their views, their actions, their intentions and their characters.” Yet you provide no evidence to back up these allegations and do not even respond to Francione’s previous rebuttal of this very same allegation.

Fourth, you claim that “you [i.e. Francione] choose to attack this initiative, instead of recognizing that you are part of the movement for the abolition of meat.” This proves – dispositively – that you profoundly misunderstand the abolitionist position. In implying that there is an intrinsic difference between meat on the one hand and dairy and eggs on the other, the anti-meat campaign undermines the primary normative claim of the abolitionist movement: that veganism is a moral imperative. How could Francione be part of your anti-meat movement?

And I would just like to add this: the claim that the anti-meat campaign distinguishes meat from dairy and eggs for “political” reasons cannot be taken seriously. It could be taken seriously only if its “leaders” could – per se – run a campaign that did not distinguish meat from dairy and eggs. But they cannot, for they are not vegans themselves. When the personal behaviour of its leaders precludes their running anything but an anti-meat campaign, it is absurd even to claim that the anti-meat campaign has been devised for other reasons.

Karin Hilpisch said...

Thanks for reposting this, David. I completely agree with it, especially with the last paragraph. Of course, my “master“ told me so. And you have wonderfully represented your Father here; congratulations! Yes, yes, I’m on my way..

James Crump said...

Yes, I deleted my previous comment. I thought that that was my pejorative, given that it was my comment. But since David does not think that people have the right to edit their own comments, this shall be my last contribution.

the issue of the validity of that "critique" has already been settled on its own merits

Francione’s critique cannot be “settled” in the comments section of a blog. If you want “settle” it, then you should write an academic paper, for Francione’s work is a relevant contribution the academic discourse.

all you and your trademarked abolitionist movement do is spin out ad hominem attacks against all who do not bow to your vision of the movement.

The idea that the abolitionist position reduces to ad hominem attacks is absurd. Francione has expounded the abolitionist position in three books; if people want to get an accurate understanding of the abolitionist position, they should read those.

David Olivier said...

James Crump: "Yes, I deleted my previous comment. I thought that that was my pejorative, given that it was my comment. But since David does not think that people have the right to edit their own comments, this shall be my last contribution."

I had no intention of depriving you of any, er, pejorative, but I happened to chance upon your comment before you deleted it. I responded to it as I found it, and then saw that in the meanwhile you had deleted it and replaced it with another version. Since I did not want my response to appear to be answering attacks that had never existed, and since I had luckily kept your original text, I reposted it.

You have the "pejorative" to delete your own messages and replace them, since this blog system allows you to do that, but if you do publish a comment, even for fifteen seconds, you must accept the responsibility for what happens if someone finds it during those fifteen seconds. It is also my "pejorative" to answer comments as I find them, and it is my "pejorative" to copy the text back, since the system allows me to do that. OK? :D

"Francione’s critique cannot be “settled” in the comments section of a blog. If you want “settle” it, then you should write an academic paper, for Francione’s work is a relevant contribution the academic discourse."

Your opinion.

"The idea that the abolitionist position reduces to ad hominem attacks is absurd. Francione has expounded the abolitionist position in three books; if people want to get an accurate understanding of the abolitionist position, they should read those."

If he didn't constantly make use of such misrepresentations (to use a mild word), and if his followers didn't so frequently do the same, I might feel a stronger incentive to read his books. Apart from the fact that I find his basic position - that there is ONE ROOT OF ALL EVIL, namely property relationships - extremely simplistic. I don't agree either to his deontological viewpoint; and all he seems to have to argue against consequentialist approaches is that consequentialists are all evil and not really vegans like he is (i.e. as he finds convenient to define the word) and so on. Actually, much of his criticism of utilitarianism seems based on arbitrary ad hominem attacks against utilitarians, and is thus completely non convincing (apart from its being contrary to the code of ethics his high-browed deontological approach should impose on him).

David

Sandra said...

I made a contribution at the outset of this discussion and I quickly stopped because I was not happy with the fact that the defenders of MAV did not seem to be able to make reasoned arguments in favour of their position and, instead, just launched attacks against anyone who disagreed.

The fact that poor, desperate David Olivier is reduced to poking fun at the fact that James used "pejorative" instead of "prerogative"--an obvious typo on Crump's part--indicates how pathetic the defenders of MAV are.

If the MAV crowd does not see veganism as a political issue, fine. Join the rest of the world that thinks that our exploitative behaviour toward animals is justified because no one can be "perfect" and women are still treated unfairly, etc. But to try to elevate your non-veganism into some sort of "movement" gives silliness a very bad name.

Sandra

James Crump said...

Thank you, Sandra. David Olivier's response to the abolitionist position is to repost a comment I deleted and to point out a typo. Could it be any clearer that he has nothing substantive to say?

James Crump said...

On behalf of abolitionists everywhere, I would just like to thank David Olivier and the rest of the MAV lot for the stellar job they have done in proving the superiority of Gary Francione's work. After almost 70 comments David Olivier has been reduced to producing a commentary on a typo.

So thanks, Dave, we owe you one!

benio said...

Sandra said: " the defenders of MAV did not seem to be able to make reasoned arguments"

I feel that it is actually your friends who are incapable of expressing any opinion without referring to a "Francione dixit".

You want arguments? I gave one, I will say it again.

I quoted an interview in which Gary Francione said that a political action aimed at a gradual abolition of animal exploitation would be positive only following these guidelines:

- it shoud aim at the abolition of significant fields of exploitation;

- it should promote the abolition of the property status of nonhuman animals.

The movement for the abolition of meat wants to abolish meat - which is much bigger than abolishing leghold traps. We can say that it satisfies the first condition - I hope that you agree...

As for the abolition of the property status of nonhumans animals, I said that this claim is without effect on the abolition of animal exploitation: not only because of empirical evidence (since human exploitation did not cease after the abolition of all human property status) but because there are important forms of human exploitation which are not based on property status, such as wage labour and women's labour (nota bene: I did not just say that "women are treated unfairly" - this is a very poor, general assertion! Women are a social class, they participate of social relations of productions and the form of exploitation which concern them is not founded on property status).

In my opinion, the second condition imposed by Francione is futile. The fact that the MAAV don't satisfy this condition is irrelevant.

James said: "Francione’s critique cannot be “settled” in the comments section of a blog. If you want “settle” it, then you should write an academic paper, for Francione’s work is a relevant contribution the academic discourse."

Unfortunately, if you criticize other people's praxis by using political theory, you have to defend your statements where they stand.

And anyway, in case you haven't noticed, it is not in universities that we "transform the world"...

AP

Sandra said...

Benio:

Your criticism of Francione's theory of animal property on the ground that it won't eradicate the exploitation of women's domestic labour made me laugh out loud! You obviously do not understand either Francione's theory or basic economic theory.

If you aren't into being vegan or promoting veganism, that's fine. But it so very pompous and narcissistic to call your non-veganism a "movement".

Sandra

benio said...

Sandra: «Your criticism of Francione's theory of animal property on the ground that it won't eradicate the exploitation of women's domestic labour made me laugh out loud! You obviously do not understand either Francione's theory or basic economic theory.»


I don't think that you are in a position to say what I do or do not understand, since you still haven't understood my objection, which is short and simple and which has already been explained twice.

I will propose it for the third time.

I ask you to answer to some simple questions.

1/ Is every form of exploitation of sentient beings grounded on property status? Yes or no?

2/ Did every form of human exploitation cease after the abolition of the property status of humans? Yes or no?

3/ If you answer "yes", do you think that serfdom in the Late Middle Ages, or modern wage labor, or women's labor, which are not based on a property status, are not to be considered forms of exploitation?

4/ If you answer "no" to questions 1/ and 2/, why on earth should we imagine that the abolition of the property status of animals will imply the end of their exploitation?

p.s. Please, don't answer to question 4/ just repeating that I did not understand Francione's theory: if YOU really have understood it, and IF it does answer my objection, please, why not explain what that answer is? Come on, it is just a plain objection!

AP

Sandra said...

Benio:

First, there is a difference between exploiting x and treating x exclusively as an economic commodity all of whose interests can be sacrificed if it benefits others to do so.

Wage labour represents exploitation but it is qualitatively different from chattel slavery.

Second, Francione's theory about animal property is that animals have a right not to be treated as commodities and this means that we cannot justify continuing to being domesticated animals into existence for use as human resources.

Sandra

benio said...

You didn't answer question 4/, Sandra.

4/ If you answer "no" to questions 1/ and 2/, why on earth should we imagine that the abolition of the property status of animals will imply the end of their exploitation?

Does this mean that Francione and his followers only aim at abolishing the property status of animals but not their exploitation?

AP

p.s. you said:

«Wage labour represents exploitation but it is qualitatively different from chattel slavery.»

But in question 3/, I mentioned serfdom, which is not identical to slavery. Serfdom was, in late Middle Ages, a condition where peasants were obliged to work for the lord, to cultivate his land and give him a large part of the harvest, but were not his property. Slavery, instead, disappeared in Western Europe at the beginning of the Second Millennium. But human exploitation did not disappear...

And anyway, the issue of whether wage labour is qualitatively different from slavery is debatable. They are different in form, but not in substance, as I said in a previous comment. And a formal difference is not necessarily a qualitative difference.

Sandra said...

Benio:

I do not wish to be rude, but I am coming to the conclusion that you either do not understand English or you are simply intellectually challenged. If we accorded nonhumans the right not to be treated as property, we would stop producing domesticated nonhumans altogether. Francione says a great deal about this issue, and about the notion of exploitation generally, but that would require that you read Francione rather than blathering on in ignorance.

You say:

And anyway, the issue of whether wage labour is qualitatively different from slavery is debatable. They are different in form, but not in substance, as I said in a previous comment.

That is a truly astonishing statement and shows how desperate you are. Many wage labourers, particularly in places that have good unions, are certainly exploited but also certainly have a life that is qualitatively different from a chattel slave.

So, in conclusion, the MAV contingent has been reduced to pointing out typographical errors and making ludicrous comments, such as that there is no substantive different between being a chattel slave in Georgia in 1830 and being a unionized wage labourer in France in 2007.

Goodbye.

Sandra

benio said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Olivier said...

Sandra, I think that human imagination is capable of finding many ways to exploit animals without "producing" them. The case of wage labor is quite to the point. Workers are not the property of their employers, and they are not "produced" by them, but they still are exploited - sometimes very severely.

It is not so difficult to imagine a system in which no sentient being is the property of another, while at the same time exploitation, including that of non-human animals, goes on on a large scale.

The abolition of the property status of animals is certainly a justified and useful goal, but it is not the beginning and the end of the struggle to free animals (human or non-human) from exploitation and oppression.

As for wage labourers in France in 2007 having a much better life than slaves in Georgia in the 19th century: true, generally speaking. But it's not a universal truth, and in many cases wage labourers have been much worse off than many slaves.

In any case, it's rather strange to see you using such welfare-oriented arguments. (I don't want to seem rude!)

By the way, in what way would the abolition of the property status of animals prevent them from being hunted, for instance? Animals that are hunted are not property before being killed; and once they are killed, they are not sentient beings anymore. Hunting is not an issue of sentient beings being property.

In what way would the abolition of the property status of animals prevent the campaigns to eradicate city rats? No one claims property of the rats, they are just destroyed.

Of course, in both those cases, you can also outlaw the killing of animals, and say they have a right to their lives. But then that will have to be an independent principle, a right that does not follow from their "one right" not to be "treated as our property".

The abolition of the property status of animals will not prevent encroachements on their territories; it will not prevent cutting down the trees in which birds have built their nests, burning the forests where they live.

You are right to say that the abolition of meat will not end all animal exploitation, will not end all injustice in the world. Neither will the abolition of the property status of animals - indeed, it will not even end all killing and eating of animals. I see no reason to view the issue of the property status of animals as more fundamental than any other.

Now despite this you certainly still feel that Francione's ideas are the most apt. But I think you should also feel a few doubts about them and accept that there is room for honest debate. You and your kind should stop systematically calling in question the motives, personal integrity and intelligence of anyone who disagrees. And also accept that in the animal movement, there can be different ideas, different strategies, and cooperation between people despite their disagreements.

A remark about your opening sentence. Not only is it impolite, but it suggests that you do not give much value to the issues of human rights and equality:

- You seem to have guessed that Agnese's mother tongue is not English. For your information, that is the case of most people in the world; in spite of that, she is making the effort of writing in your language, whereas it is not clear that you would be at all able to do so in hers. That fact should command your respect, instead of being an occasion for contemptuous remarks.

- Agnese doesn't appear "intellectually challenged", but using that expression as an insult is insulting - to the people who really are "intellectually challenged". Lacking respect for humans who do not have typical human intelligence is not consistent with claiming to respect non-humans.

David

benio said...

Sandra said: "If we accorded nonhumans the right not to be treated as property, we would stop producing domesticated nonhumans altogether"

So, you contradict yourself. You said yesterday that there is a difference between exploiting someone and treating him or her as a commodity. Now, you say that property is the origin of exploitation.

And we come back to my objection, Sandra: if property is the origin of exploitation, as you just wrote, the abolition of property would logically end in the abolition of exploitation; but historical evidence shows that it is not true for the humans and nothing allows us to dream that it would be so for non-human animals.

Sandra said: "Francione says a great deal about this issue, and about the notion of exploitation generally, but that would require that you read Francione rather than blathering on in ignorance."

You run in circles and contradict yourself: you are not doing a favour to Francione and his theory.

Sandra said: "Many wage labourers, particularly in places that have good unions, are certainly exploited but also certainly have a life that is qualitatively different from a chattel slave."

Uh, now it's you who make me laugh. You contradict yourself again. You and your friends spend your time explaining the difference between welfarism and abolition, and now you try to convince me that better conditions of life are a "qualitative difference", and that a more "humane" exploitation is qualitatively different than a harder one. Please!

If the exploited ones have good conditions of life, it is just an accident for the exploiting system: you call yourself "abolitionist", you should know it well. The object of a (revolutionary) political theory is the system itself, its mechanism. You can't say that two systems are different just making a superficial, incongruous comparison between their effects in different countries and different times.

I said that there is a formal difference between wage labour and slavery; it is evident that the wage worker is formally free and the slave is not free.

But I said too that the two forms of work are not different in substance: indeed, the employer buys the labour power of the worker - i.e. his ability to work - and doing so he acquires the right of using it as he likes. Actually, he owns the existence of the workers: therefore, from a substancial point of vue, he is in the same position as a master of slaves.

This is a short and incomplete explanation of the concept of labour power: to understand it better, you should read Karl Marx. Don't panic: his works have been translated in English and you will easily find them on the web, freely downloadable.

AP

benio said...

Thanks David. As for me, Sandra's comments actually don't bother me.

Diana said...

Bonjour.

Pouvez-vous me dire svp quand est-ce que c'est nécessaire de maltraiter un animal? (Comme c'est écrit dans le texte qui réclame l'abolition de la viande?) Est-ce derrière cette phrase on trouve une philosophie utilitariste à la Singer?

Diana said...

Oops! I apologise that I posted my above comment in French. I thought I was on the French blog.

I translate my post:

Bonjour.

Please can you tell me when it is necessary to mistreat an animal? (As is written in the text asking for the abolition of meat). Is there a utilitarian philosophy behind this sentence?

Eric said...

There were so many comments that I finally needed to scroll down and post before I went to bed, but I wonder if whether, after animals are given the right not to be considered property, whether those comparing them to free slaves expect them to take jobs as wage laborers... The analogy seems to pretty much break down right there.

If humans are barred from commodifying animals, their institutionalized exploitation will necessarily end. As to whether individuals may still find occasion to exploit and otherwise harm animals, surely that is the case, just as millions of humans still find themselves enslaved around the world in 2007. Are we to take this to mean that our ancestors shouldn't have sought to abolish the property status of human beings?