Introduction to Animal Rights: Your Child or the Dog?

Gary L. Francione
Temple University Press, 2000

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Two-thirds of Americans polled by the Associated Press agree with the following statement: An animal’s right to live free of suffering should be just as important as a person’s right to live free of suffering. More than 50 percent of Americans believe that it is wrong to kill animals to make fur coats or to hunt them for sport. But these same Americans eat hamburgers, take their children to circuses and rodeos, and use products developed with animal testing. How do we justify our inconsistency?

In this easy-to-read introduction, animal rights advocate Gary Francione looks at our conventional moral thinking about animals. Using examples, analogies, and thought-experiments, he reveals the dramatic inconsistency between what we say we believe about animals and how we actually treat them.

Introduction to Animal Rights: Your Child or the Dog? provides a guidebook to examining our social and personal ethical beliefs. It takes us through concepts of property and equal consideration to arrive at the basic contention of animal rights: that everyone—human and non-human—has the right not to be treated as a means to an end. Along the way, it illuminates concepts and theories that all of us use but few of us understand—the nature of “rights” and “interests,” for example, and the theories of Locke, Descartes, and Bentham.

Filled with fascinating information and cogent arguments, this is a book that you may love or hate, but that will never fail to inform, enlighten, and educate.

What People Are Saying:

It took someone of Francione’s penetrating insight, keen intellect, and long practical experience as the nation’s leading animal rights lawyer to produce an analysis that is bound to supplant earlier approaches to the human/animal relationship, and to provide a creative and rigorous theoretical basis for redefining that relationship.

There has been much recent attention to the increase in classes on animal rights offered at law schools. There can be no doubt that Francione’s teaching, scholarship, and public interest litigation have been responsible for this trend…. Although others echo his views, Francione’s work defines the standard in this area of inquiry.

Alan Watson, Ernest P. Rogers Professor of Law, Research Professor, The University of Georgia, School of Law (from the Foreword)

Francione’s claims are serious ones, urged passionately but with admirable lucidity, and with considerable sensitivity to counterarguments…. Francione seeks to raise the moral status of animals, by making it clear that they are ends in themselves, with intrinsic value, rather than mere means to human ends. In this regard he moves well beyond Bentham, seeking to establish that animals have rights that are inviolate, whatever the consequences…. Francione is right to say that sentient animals have intrinsic value, and that animal well-being is a good in itself. He is also right to reject the widespread view that animals are not entitled to rights because they lack a capacity to think in moral terms. Even if animals lack that capacity—a disputed empirical issue—human beings certainly have it, and we should exercise our capacity so as to act morally. For us, at least, might does not make right.

Cass R. Sunstein, Karl N. Llewellyn Distinguished Service Professor of Jurisprudence, University of Chicago Law School (from book review in The New Republic, January 29, 2001)

A clearly written, passionately argued, and compelling and convincing call for the widening of our circle of moral sympathy and concern. Anyone who cares about animals must read this book, with care. Anyone who loves animals will read this book, with gratitude.

Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, co-author of When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals and author of The Pig Who Sang to the Moon: The Emotional World of Farm Animals

In this brilliantly argued and very clear and accessible book, Gary Francione argues that the moral significance of animals necessitates that we reject the use and treatment of animals as resources or as property. If we take animal interests seriously, we must abolish and not merely regulate our use of animals for food, research, and entertainment. This book is required reading for anyone interested in clear thinking about the human/animal relationship.

Drucilla Cornell, Rutgers University

In this splendidly clear and original book, Gary Francione demonstrates the profound flaw in our thinking about animals and their moral status. He brings to light the clash between the principles to which we take ourselves to be committed, and the reality we live, a reality shaped by the conception of animals as property.

Cora Diamond, University of Virginia

Gary Francione claims that most of us are morally schizophrenic and demonstrates well that there often is a wide gulf between what we claim is due to other animals and what we actually do to them. He argues that animals have a right not to be viewed as things; their lives do matter, they have interests, and they should be firmly entrenched in the moral community.

Marc Bekoff, University of Colorado

Gary Francione, the legal community’s leading proponent of animal rights theory, has written a book whose time has come…. [Francione's book] brings us to the very essence of rights: the right not to be the instrument of another being is the one right that serves as a baseline and a moral imperative for any effective concept of animal rights…. Introduction to Animal Rights is brimming with insights…. Francione demands a revolutionary change in our thought process. To achieve this paradigm shift, one must first conceive it, which is what Francione accomplishes with [this book]…. [Francione gives us] two choices. We can continue to inflict suffering on nonhuman animals for virtually any purpose that provides satisfaction or a perceived benefit to humans. If we decide to do so, we should admit that our claim to include nonhumans in our scope of moral consideration is a sham. Alternatively, we can abolish the institutionalized exploitation of animals.

Lee Hall, Legal Director, Friends of Animals (book review in Suffolk University Law Review, Volume 34, Pages 83-95 (2000))

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