Monday, October 8, 2012

The Abolitionist ApproachES

Professor Gary Francione maintains a website called "the Abolitionist Approach". The definite article, "the", is very telling here. It implies there is only one abolitionist approach: his. Others either do not exist or are not worth taking seriously - the latter of course is completely at odds with non-violent discourse. And yet there are many approaches to what I would call the abolition of speciesism, and what he might prefer to call abolishing the property status of animals:
  1. The hyperegalitarian abolitionist approaches of Joan Dunayer and Paola Cavalieri, which passionately argue for equal rights across the board for insects
  2. The radical ethic of care abolitionist approaches. This feminist type of ethic may reject rights in favour of getting rid of speciesism on the basis of compassion, empathy, or sympathy
  3. The incrementalist non-violence abolitionist approach that I advocate
  4. The violentist abolitionist approaches urged by those who accept violence to humans as a part of animal liberation activism (which I am known to condemn)
  5. The Francionist abolitionist approach
  6. The Marxist abolitionist approaches
  7. The anarchist abolitionist approaches
  8. The virtue ethics abolitionist approaches which, like the ethic of care, may eschew rights
  9. Deep ecology approaches to abolishing speciesism
  10. Post-modernist ideologies that are critical of speciesism and conclude it should be entirely avoided

There are many other conceivable approaches, and note how the above are generally families of views that themselves permit a variety of stances.

In the past I have indicated that Francione's approach to property status of simply negating it is short-sighted, and long before we can free animals from being property, we ought to make the best of the property status they have. Francione, as those familiar with his ideas know, argues unsuccessfully that if animals are property they cannot enjoy any substantial protection. Sweden, of course, is a real-world refutation of that wrongful assertion. I have argued that before we can bring animal rights about, it would be wise to promote ideas of "responsible ownership", rather than passing up any chance to make animals be subject to less violence. There is no doubt that revising ownership has a contribution to make. Indeed, it is crucial, since animal law revolves around nonhuman status as property, so unless we can affect that status it would be very difficult to affect the legal status of animals in society. We must not throw out the Swedish - among other places - babies of constructive property status along with speciesist bathwater. So far from his being the only abolitionist approach, by speaking only of abolishing property status, his is one of the least tenable or helpful among our options.

In the past I have characterized as egotistical Francione's calling his approach alone "the" abolitionist approach. I can think of no other, more apt term. It is certainly not humble for him to declare in this manner. Nor is it even average or middle-of-the-road in terms of egocentricity. I mean, who else would dare do such a foolish and wrongful thing? No, it is singularly arrogant. This is no insult directed at him but fair comment based on the evidence. Someone could call me egotistical and arrogant if I started a website called "the Non-Violence Approach". It would be equally silly, vain, and baseless. I do not use ad hominem argumentation, though. An example would be: Francione seems arrogant and egotistical because of the name of his website, therefore his approach must be wrong. No, any person merely having disagreeable traits such as egotism does not logically entail that anything they say is false. I think it is ground for suspicion that a good deal more than ordinary scholarship is occurring here...but nothing more. Let us fairly consider all approaches before deciding - in all fairness - our own take on the matter.


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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