This weekend, I will be doing two presentations in the Toronto area.
On Friday, October 1, at 3:30 p.m., I will be discussing, as part of the University of Guelph Philosophy Department Speaker Series, the welfarist view that nonhuman animals have a lesser moral value than do humans. According to welfarists going back to Bentham and continuing through to Singer and to most of the large animal welfare groups, animals (with the possible exception of certain humanlike animals, such as nonhuman great apes) have an interest in not suffering but do not an interest in continuing to live.
The reason offered to justify this view is that animals are not self aware in the same way that normal humans are. Welfarists maintain that the primary moral issue is animal treatment and not animal use. It is this thinking that accounts for the “flexitarian,” “happy meat” movement.
I will argue that welfarist notions about animal cognition and self awareness are themselves speciesist and beg the question at issue about the equal moral value of all sentient beings and whether the property status of nonhumans can be justified.
The Department of Philosophy presentation is free and open to the public.
On Saturday, October 2, I am presenting a paper on animal rights and the problems with animals as property, as well as nonviolence, at the University of Guelph School of Veterinary Medicine, 11th Annual Animal Welfare Forum.
Many animal advocates spend their time talking only with other like-minded animal advocates. That is not going to move things along. We need to be talking with the general public, including those, like veterinarians, who embrace a welfarist approach but who reject a rights/abolitionist perspective. On Saturday, I will be engaging people who are committed welfarists and I hope to at least stimulate them into thinking about the practical limits of welfare reform and the moral problems with animal use (however “humane”) as a general matter.
Admission to the Veterinary School event is free, but is registration is encouraged given limited space.
If you are not vegan, go vegan. It is very easy, better for health and for the planet. And, most important, it’s the morally right and just thing to do.
If you are vegan, then educate others in a creative, nonviolent way.
Gary L. Francione
©2010 Gary L. Francione