Friday, September 14, 2012

More Statements Concerning Francione on Non-Violence

In addition to my partial retraction and explanation of why I erroneously wrote what I did in my blog, I would like to add the following positive statements:

  1. Gary Francione has done pioneering work in putting forward non-violence as a central principle in the animal rights movement. I think he should be applauded for that. I wonder if other animal rights philosophers have also done so in ways that are not reflected in their academic or technical writing? Certainly Tom Regan, in his informal collection of essays (The Struggle for Animal Rights and autobiographical writings), gives credit to Gandhi, one of the premier non-violence writers and proponents. But like Francione, non-violence is absent from Regan's technical writings. Except maybe implicitly. The closest thing in The Case for Animal Rights is what Regan labels "the harm principle". (How infelicitous: "nonharming principle" or something like that would have been more sensible.) Notes about Francione being "pioneering" need to be qualified by indicating that the non-violence tradition regarding animals extends back thousands of years in the Jain tradition, and there are a great many Western Jains besides Francione who have supported animal rights in the name of non-violence for a very long time. Long before Francione even converted to animal rights. I have met such people in Toronto as far back as the 1980s.
  2. I think the Jains Francione has known deserve the credit for Francione's emphasis on non-violence, although Francione himself deserves credit for adopting that already pre-existing idea which has a firmly entrenched tradition, complete with many arguments in favour of non-violence (towards animals). That said, Francione's own arguments for what he sometimes calls non-violence are distinctive, even though traditional Jainism has for centuries spoken of avoiding suffering for sentient beings, treating them equally, and so on. But they have not emphasized the property status of animals, as Francione does in dizzyingly erroneous ways, as I argue elsewhere.
  3. That Francione considers non-violence to be a central principle is well substantiated in materials such as an interview with Friends of Animals, on his website in some blog entries, and certainly it is a very major factor in the fourth item in his mission statement. Those iterations go back a substantial length of time of at least a decade. I have "Kaufman" - whoever that may be - to thank for doing what needed to be done: opening my eyes to this material.
  4. Non-violence is curiously absent as being treated as a central concept in much of Francione's writing such as his books that I have researched. He does compare ordinary meat-eaters with "Simon the Sadist" in his Introduction to Animal Rights for example, but still this non-violence discourse is oddly missing. (I have not yet read Animals as Persons - I wonder if that is any different in this respect). I view this as non-violence emerging as a central concept only nascently in his technical writings, although not in his less formal literature.
  5. If or when I do academic writing about Francione’s non-violence assertions, which I have not yet set out to do, I will or would thoroughly research the question of Francione’s indications about non-violence.
  6. People should not exaggerate what was going on here, which was:
    • A person explicitly conceding that Francione has thought of non-violence as a central principle going back a long time, not least since his adoption of Jainism, which I indicated preceded my own starting to give non-violence a central emphasis; I indicated animals have a central right to non-violence in my published article of 2006, "The Rights of Animal Persons," and the rest of my work there can be regarded in part as an elaboration of that, but even so it was not a central emphasis as a term in the way that I am writing presently.
    • That person wondering aloud in his blog why non-violence was not emphasized as such in Francione's writing as well as that writing could be recalled. Keep in mind that this is still a serioius question. When a philosopher, and I concede Francione is one of sorts, makes something emphasized as a central principle, it comes up not as absent from their technical writings as is the case with Gary, but very much present explicitly and virtually countless times. That is the way Kant regarded the categorical imperative as a central principle, and duly emphasized it as such. This principle Kant would not merely assert as a sideline, but it would consistently be his main focus. Also, explicit arguments for the central principle would be provided. But if the principle is not even mentioned in the technical writings, we can only extrapolate how the given arguments support the given principle, which I have done in Francione's case. Researchers who emphasize something as a central principle also account for the research tradition regarding the principle, in a thorough way if indeed it is their central point. Perhaps these phenomena are yet to come in Francione's work. But they are not there now. When I said I predict he will more centrally emphasize non-violence than he has done, I am indicating he will probably start to discourse in the way I just outlined above. At least, the scholarly community should hope that he will do so.
    • That person saying in December 2011 that Jainism is sufficient to account for Francione's evolution of thought towards Jainism and its non-violence (Francione is a Jain after all).
    • That person explicitly and only asking questions about central emphasis in Francione's writings, not taking any credit for definitely inspiring Francione in his growing emphasis on non-violence, and explicitly stating as much.

I apologize for not being fully knowledgeable about Francione on non-violence in earlier blog entries.

That said, I wish people would be as concerned with Francione's errors - and not just in his theories. I merely dared to ask a question in my personal blog, to which I did not know the answer, on a topic that I have not academically researched yet in Francione's literature. Francione seriously misrepresented Peter Singer's view for many years in a number of peer-reviewed publications that are supposed to be thoroughly and technically researched, unlike mere questions asked in blog entries. The point never should have passed peer review but was never caught till I publicized the matter. The blog is not formal academic writing but I make assertions relevant to that domain, and Kaufman helped me out. Anyway, returning to our point, Francione said Singer believes animals used for food are neither self-aware nor do they have the right not to be killed. I proved Singer maintains the exact opposite in materials that Francione cites as having researched. See here for that blog entry, and here for Singer's thanking me for the correction of Francione's misrepresentations. Did Francione ever publicly apologize for the extensive misrepresentation? He never even recognized it, let alone apologized for it.

Also, Francione went way beyond asking questions about my views when he critiqued my theories about animal welfarism and showed he had virtually no understanding of those views. Not only did he not reflect the arguments I actually make, but gave two complete misrepresentations of my views, saying that I think animal welfarism is a moral and practical way of achieving abolition, when I said pretty much the exact opposite. Such laws do not need to achieve abolition at all. Abolitionist campaigns do that, although compassionate laws will make for kinder culture. He also said I am trying to reduce animal rights/abolition to animal welfarism, which is also the opposite of what I say. He wasn't just asking questions about my beliefs, folks, he was actively "reporting" my assertions but in reality was doing nothing of the kind. He totally failed to show any understanding of my main arguments, let alone any reply to them and my objections to his own view. He remains unaccountable by normal academic standards.

I continue to move forward researching on non-violence and animals. I am aware of the arguments Francione has offered for animal ethics, since that is my job. Although they favorably impress some people, I believe that I have identified irreparable logical problems with those views. Also, asserting non-violence is central to animal rights is not an argument but an assertion. His other arguments can be taken to support this assertion though. But Francione, like most ethicists, is an intuitionist, who believes it is legitimate to make assertions without justification. Whether he will admit as much is less relevant and a matter of his own personal psychology. But analysis of his writings can identify which assertions of his are intuitions or basic assumptions. No one will stop him from asserting non-violence as yet another intuition, but again, it is plain that he also has other arguments meant to support his non-violence approach.

I hope to do better than Francione has done. But quite apart from Francionism, I am not complacent that I will succeed in this extremely difficult task of trying to entrench animal ethics in a thoroughly liberationist and rationalist manner.


A Selection of Related Articles

Sztybel, David. "Animal Rights Law: Fundamentalism versus Pragmatism". Journal for Critical Animal Studies 5 (1) (2007): 1-37.

go there

Short version of "Animal Rights Law".

go there

Sztybel, David. "Incrementalist Animal Law: Welcome to the Real World".

go there

Sztybel, David. "Sztybelian Pragmatism versus Francionist Pseudo-Pragmatism".

go there

A Selection of Related Blog Entries

Anti-Cruelty Laws and Non-Violent Approximation

Use Not Treatment: Francione’s Cracked Nutshell

Francione Flees Debate with Me Again, Runs into the “Animal Jury”

The False Dilemma: Veganizing versus Legalizing

Veganism as a Baseline for Animal Rights: Two Different Senses

Francione's Three Feeble Critiques of My Views

Startling Decline in Meat Consumption Proves Francionists Are Wrong Once Again!

The Greatness of the Great Ape Project under Attack!

Francione Totally Misinterprets Singer

Francione's Animal Rights Theory

Francione on Unnecessary Suffering

My Appearance on AR Zone

D-Day for Francionists

Sztybel versus Francione on Animals' Property Status

The Red Carpet

Playing into the Hands of Animal Exploiters

The Abolitionist ApproachES

Francione's Mighty Boomerang

Dr. David Sztybel Home Page

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