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Professor Gary Francione Describes Failure of Animal Welfare Approach in Keynote Speech at International Conference

May 29, 2014 – 

In a keynote address at Lund University in Sweden, Professor Gary Francione of Rutgers School of Law–Newark detailed the theoretical and practical reasons why the animal welfare approach to animal rights has failed. A Board of Governors Professor, Distinguished Professor of Law & Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Scholar of Law and Philosophy, Francione is well-known throughout the animal protection movement for his criticism of animal welfare law and the property status of nonhuman animals and for his theory of animal rights.

Professor Francione spoke at a May 26-27, 2014 symposium sponsored by Exploring the Animal Turn, which is hosted by the Pufendorf Institute at Lund University. Exploring the Animal Turn is comprised of a multidisciplinary team of researchers whose objective is to develop a continuous exchange across disciplinary boundaries about the ways in which human and animal lives are entangled. The symposium focused on the ethical, political and environmental dimensions of human-animal relations.   

In “The Failure of the Animal Welfare Approach to Animal Ethics,” Francione, in addressing the theoretical problem, said that because the welfarist approach assumes that animal life has lesser moral value than human life and that, therefore, animal use per se is not morally objectionable, it focuses largely on the treatment of animals. This assumption about moral value rests on speciesist assumptions, he argued. As a practical matter, welfare reform does nothing to eradicate the property status of animals. Animal welfare measures actually make the public feel better about animal exploitation, he said, which encourages continued animal use.

Professor Francione, who joined the Rutgers faculty in 1989, has been teaching animal rights theory and the law for more than 25 years. He is the author of five highly-regarded books and numerous articles on animal rights theory and animals in the law and has lectured on the topic throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. Francione and his colleague, Adjunct Professor Anna Charlton, started and operated the Rutgers Animal Rights Law Clinic from 1990-2000, making Rutgers the first university in the U.S. to have animal rights law as part of the regular academic curriculum and to award students academic credit, not only for classroom work, but also for work on actual cases involving animal issues.