Monday, September 10, 2012

Non-Violence in "The Rights of Animal Persons"

I now emphasize non-violence much more in my current writings as many have noticed, but as I said in my AR Zone interview, it was a feature of my past writings as well. Here is a quote from my 2006 essay, "The Rights of Animal Persons", p. 15:
...non-violence is the norm on my form of rights reasoning, and I assert that this follows logically. If one objects that what is best full-out is too demanding, it should not be too taxing to insist on that minimal component of what is best or ideal which is not-harming, as we generally require when human interests are at stake. Interestingly, I have suggested that we would call using mentally disabled humans for meat, skins, or experiments “violent,” but the only standard justification for violence is defense, and we do not defend ourselves against animals when we use them in these very ways. No one has thought of a brilliant alternative justification for violence besides defense in the case of animals. Speciesists are hard-pressed to justify their violence in any way. Just because animals are different from humans does not give us a license to harm these other creatures. I also argue at length in my book that in addition to being rightfully entitled to non-violence, sentient beings have rights to respect, life, welfare, and freedom since these are important goods for all sentient beings.
And also on p. 16:
Vivisection however is not best for any sentient being who is subjected to such treatment, and is contrary to the principle of non-violence. Therefore vivisection is not consistent with what is best in general given best caring ethics.

And there are any number of relevant passages discussing the related concept of harm as well. This is just a matter of some interest with respect to the history of my ideas.


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


  1. In an earlier post, you write: "Francione as a theorist may well have followed me in terms of starting to rely on non-violence theory as a central emphasis. (He never did before, and then suddenly after I did so, I heard about him doing so. History has shown that he is well aware of my writings.)" Here you show yourself speaking about non-violence in 2006.

    Anyone who has known Gary Francione since the 1990s knows has been writing and speaking about non-violence publicly the the entire time. For well over a decade, Francione has had a list of six principles of the abolitionist movement. The sixth principle is the principle of nonviolence. You can see him list the principles, including the principle of nonviolence, in 2002. See here: Indeed, not only does Francione list the principle of non-violence, but he calls it "the guiding principle" of the movement. To emphasize: he uses the definite article ("THE guiding principle"). For over a decade, Francione has publicly explained that the principle of non-violence is the central principle of his abolitionist theory. And he's been speaking about non-violence for much, much longer.

    It looks like you've got things precisely the wrong way around. It looks to me like you're leaning on him.

    Why do you maintain otherwise? I want to believe that it is neither due to a lack of care and attentiveness, nor due to a lack of honesty.


  2. Thank you for your very enlightening remark, Dr. Kaufman. I need to make a partial retraction of my question about Francione centrally emphasizing non-violence. I do so in the next blog entry which contains a fuller reply to your comment.