Animal Rights Zone

Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism

Transcript of David Sztybel's ARZone Guest Chat ~ Part 1


Transcript of David Sztybel's ARZone Guest chat

15 January 2011 at:

5pm US Eastern Time

10pm UK Time and

16 January 2011 at:

8am Australian Eastern Standard Time


Part 1


Carolyn Bailey:

ARZone would like to welcome Dr. David Sztybel today, as our Live Chat Guest.


David is a Canadian ethicist who specialises in animal ethics. He is a vegan, and has been an animal rights activist for more than 22 years. David has attained his Ph. D. in Philosophy from the University of Toronto (1994-2000) as well as his M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Toronto (1992-94) his B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Toronto (1986-91) and a B. Ed. in English and Social Studies from the University of Toronto (2005-2006)


David has published numerous articles pertaining to the liberation of all sentient beings and has lectured at the University of Toronto, Queen's University, and Brock University.


David has developed a new theory of animal rights which he terms "best caring," as outlined in "The Rights of Animal Persons.” Criticizing conventional theories of rights, based in intuition, traditionalism or common sense, compassion, Immanuel Kant's theory, John Rawls' theory, and Alan Gewirth's theory, David devises a new theory of rights for human and nonhuman animals.


David maintains his blog site at and a very informative website at:


David is looking forward to engaging ARZone members today in reference to topics ranging from his literature to his position on animal rights and welfare.


Please join with me in welcoming David to ARZone today.


Welcome, David!





Jason Ward:

Good day David!!!


Brooke Cameron:

Welcome, David!


David Sztybel:

Hi there, Will and others!


Tim Gier:

Hello (again) David!



Hello David. Thanks for being here.


Eduardo Terrer:

Hello, David








Adam Weissman:

Hi, David


Barbara DeGrande:



Mangus O’Shales:

hi, Dr. S





Brandon Becker:

Thanks for being here today!


David Sztybel:

G'day Jason, hi again Tim, Kate, Eduardo, Erin, Fina, Adam, Barbara, Mangus, Sky, and Brandon


Carolyn Bailey:

Before we begin, I’d like to request that members refrain from interrupting David during the chat session, and utilise the open chat, at the completion of David’s pre-registered questions, for any questions or comments you have.


I’d now like to ask Brooke Cameron to ask David his first question, when you’re ready, Brooke.


Brooke Cameron:

Hi David, thanks very much for being here! In your opinion, who is an abolitionist, and why?


David Sztybel:

Hi there, Brooke.  Thank you very kindly for the warm welcome. This is an important question. So you’ve provoked something of a lecture! Indeed, the following brief essay (as essays go!) is also relevant for addressing questions 2, 6, 11, 13, 14, 15. So I hope you do not mind the considerable length, but I am very serious about these and related questions.


As many people know, Professor Gary L. Francione’s core website is entitled “The Abolitionist Approach.” He is implying that his approach alone qualifies as abolitionist. Now by abolition he explicitly refers to abolishing the property status of animals, just like 19th century (and earlier) advocates pushed against humans-as-property, ie, slavery.


However, it is important to be clear that by property status, Francione means more than:


(1) being legally owned. It is also associated with


(2) being treated literally as if one is an object or thing by denying that one has a mind, feelings, or interests as the Cartesians (followers of Rene Descartes) maintain;


(3) being figuratively treated as a thing by conceding that animals have minds and feelings but by treating them in a way AS IF they are beings without interests, through a disregarding of interests;


(4) being treated as if one is a mere means, tool, resource, instrument, or slave whose value can be reduced to that of a commodity (again disregarding interests);


(5) being subjected to unnecessary suffering (again disregarding a specific interest).


So an animal eradicated as a “pest” is not anyone’s property or tool but is being treated as in (2) possibly, but certainly as in (3) to (5).


Vegans may have legal ownership but refuse other dimensions of animals-as-property in Francione’s sense. Not all conditions need apply since many exploiters grant that animals have feelings as well. This model can be compared to symptoms of a disease, all of which are had in full-blown form but not all of which are needed to make the diagnosis.


This is my interpretation of Francione’s not-property theory, identifying five conditions which he does not clearly set out in this manner. It is I who am interpreting the fact that each condition disregards interests. I newly distinguish between literally and figuratively treating animals as objects; and I use my own disease-symptom comparison for the purposes of clarification.


Really Francione seems to be getting at speciesism here. He favours the abolition of speciesism. So do I. I am a vegan animal rightist and I advocate that individuals should transform suitably. I advocate the most possible abolition of speciesism.


On the legislative front, Francione advocates either:


(1) no action (which seems to be his current recommendation);


(2) securing proto-rights (Tom Regan’s term that Francione has adopted) that fully secure an animal’s interest, such as freedom of movement or bodily integrity;


(3) abolishing a whole area of animal exploitation, such as testing drugs on animals.


I however agree with (3), since it would be great to ban, say, animal circus acts, but disagree otherwise since we can make progress for animals by lessening speciesism, say, by seeing that farmed animals are given 70% freedom of movement rather than 100%. I argue that aiming for 100% protection of this interest would be giving animals the freedom of movement found on animal rights sanctuaries, and contemporary companies and the government or both are just not going to pay for that.


So advocating 100% protection will be defeated in any contemporary legislature, resulting in no lessening of speciesism whatsoever. By contrast, my approach would lessen speciesism more by securing the maximum degree of protection of animals’ interests that is available. So both Francione and myself aim for the abolition of animals’ property status, which I think is much more clearly termed speciesism the way Francione uses these terms, but we differ in our approach.


And you can see, Brooke, that I maintain that my approach eradicates more speciesism, in practice, than his. I also maintain that it is illegitimate for Francione to call his THE abolitionist approach, as if there is only one.


Allow me to quote my most recent blog entry on that from December 9, 2010: [My blog, On the Road to Liberation, is found at:]   “…it is philosophically and grammatically nonsensical for Gary Francione and the Francionists to deny that people such as me are abolitionists. My philosophy aims for the abolition of speciesism, animals as property or slaves. Philosophically, anyone who aims for abolition is an abolitionist. Grammatically, it is unintelligible because the same rule holds for accurate grammarians. On the definition of the suffix “-ist” is as follows: ‘a suffix of nouns, often corresponding to verbs ending in –ize or nouns ending in –ism, that denote a person who practices or is concerned with something, or holds certain principles, doctrines, etc.: apologist, dramatist, machinist, novelist, realist, socialist, Thomist.” Now we are plainly dealing here with abolitionism. Abolitionist in my case and those who are like-minded denotes being concerned with something, and indeed adhering to a principle, namely abolition, making the –ist label not only permissible but grammatically inevitable.


Now the 19th century abolitionists only meant to abolish slavery, not racism. But that original intent was insufficient. We need to abolish racism and speciesism alike.


Notice how I used the term “Francionist.” This is a significant note for this discussion in general. I quote from my blog entry for August 30, 2010 on the term, Francionism: “Note that Francione in the past has objected to the term ‘Francionism’ but I am tired of pandering to this particular preference. For it does not seem justifiable. It could only be objectionable if perhaps it is insulting, but ‘Marxism’ is not that, for example. Or Francione said ‘Francionism’ overly makes it appear as though the debate is about him in particular. However, that is not accurate. The term merely identifies a set of view associated with him, and therefore is as legitimate as ‘Marxism.’ His form of abolitionism in fact really needs to be distinguished from other forms such as that of Joan Dunayer. Failing to do so would in effect unduly associate ALL abolitionism with Francione, which is not the case but which he actively promotes by vainly calling his strategy ‘the abolitionist approach,’ as though there is only one. Ironically, calling his work ‘the abolitionist approach’ without distinguishing, by name, his brand of it would even more seek to make the relevant ideas about Francione, as opposed to any other theorists.


I suspect that the coy fluttering aside of ‘Francionism’ is merely false modesty, then, given that he seeks to encompass ALL abolitionism. Or so his use of ‘the’ here logically implies. Marxism is not about Marx hardly at all and Francionism is certainly not about Francione. It is actually ODD that Francione thinks that using the term would indicate that the debate is about him. The only name that Francione provides for his views is ‘the abolitionist approach,’ and since that is inaccurate, we need another one, and Francionism will do nicely since it is both accurate and distinctive.” Even ‘fundamentalist’ which I use does not only mean Francionist kinds, since Dunayer is more of a fundamentalist than he is as I defend elsewhere.


So in short, abolitionists agree on the end of abolition, however that is defined, but disagree on the means or the way of getting there. Or so my opinion goes, and you asked. But you asked for a justification as to who is an abolitionist. I have given philosophical, grammatical reasons, but also an objection against Francione trying to arrogate the term pretty much solely to himself and those who substantially enough happen to agree with him. Francione himself refers to people like me as “new welfarists,” but in my work I outline how I do not match even ONE of his five criteria of who counts as a new welfarist. I quote the following from my MIRROR PRODUCTION (short form) of “Animal Rights Law”: Francione outlines five supposed characteristics of “new welfarists”:


(1) they favour abolishing animal usage so long as animal interests are not devalued due to speciesism;


(2) they believe that animal rights cannot provide a practical agenda for seeking abolition;


(3) animal welfare campaigns are identical to traditional welfarist tactics;


(4) most new welfarists see their measures as causally related to abolishing animal exploitation; and


(5) new welfarists believe there is no moral or logical inconsistency in “reinforcing an instrumentalist view of animals.”


Although these five characteristics are meant to embody people such as myself, none of them apply at all to my version of animal rights pragmatism. For I favour simply choosing the best of inevitably speciesist legislative options for the short-term contrary to (1), so there is an acceptance that speciesism on the part of others cannot be avoided.


Francione also supports speciesist options, e.g., banning dehorning of cattle. That still leaves eating the cattle and abusing them in other ways.


Contrary to (2), animal rights is very much part of my practical agenda in dealing with individuals and explicitly as a long-term legislative goal. As against (3), my advocating abolition is not “identical” to traditionalists who wholly approve of speciesist animal “welfare” and do not advocate animal rights. Contradicting (4), I argue in favour of “welfarist” laws being CONDUCIVE to animal rights in some cases, never as simply “causing” animal rights laws. Finally, with respect to (5), I openly acknowledge that animal “welfare” laws are logically different from animal rights laws.


The term “new welfarist” has caused ever so much needless division, alienation, lack of communication, and so on. If ultimately I aim to TRANSCEND animal welfare as I explicitly do, it does not seem accurate or fair to label me overall as a “welfarist” since ultimately I aim for abolition, or indeed animal liberation, above all. Also, take the label “new.” It is so inaccurate as well. Henry S. Salt, in Victorian times, e.g., in his book, ANIMALS’ RIGHTS CONSIDERED IN RELATION TO SOCIAL PROGRESS, in late Victorian England, argues both for animal rights in the legislative long-term and animal “welfare” laws in the short term.


So Francione, seemingly ignorant of such history, cannot be identifying any “new” form of welfarism unless of course he means that Victorian-era things are really “new.” Take their fashion-sense for example (just kidding).8-)  


You asked “why?” with respect to abolitionist approaches. Francione has denied that myself and my cohort are abolitionists, presumably because he thinks his approach works towards abolition and mine does not. I will try to show the exact reverse of what he is telling you. Here I will have to reteach why Sztybelian abolitionism, if you will, is much better than Francionist abolition. [I know, I know, when will this wind-bag just give it up and come to the point already!!!]  :-* Sorry for the length, but you asked!


This reteaching will also be relevant to answering other questions in this chat, such as the one from Eduardo Terrer. I have never taught my abolitionist approach as justifiable and better than Francione’s in this way before, and I do so for both clarity and argumentative strength.


So the main respect in which Francione’s abolitionism differs from mine is that he would advocate, short of full animal rights in the law, protecting a whole interest of an animal (this can be thought of as winning one animal right at a time, although he never puts matters this way and instead calls this winning “proto-rights” after Tom Regan, which makes sense because one cannot fully respect one animal right without honouring all or most of the others too). So he would say that 100% of the interest in liberty of movement must be honoured in a law, whereas I would say 70% of that would be OK if that is the best we can do. Realistically, he is asking animals be given recognition for their interests equivalent to what they would receive on an animal rights sanctuary (solely with respect to the interest in question though). Who is going to pay for that? Corporations? Government? He never considers this, but I have argued all along that neither will, obviously, in a capitalist society. Therefore his kind of bill would be utterly defeated and replaced with “welfarist” bills or nothing at all. It would be a wasted legislative campaign. (Although it might have some educative value.) Just as full animal rights are unrealistic for the legislative short-term, as everyone agrees, so winning almost a whole animal right or proto-right is equally unrealistic.


He has not cured the problem of being unrealistic, but merely splintered it by focusing on one animal interest at a time rather than all of them at once, as it were. I argue in much more detail about protecting whole interests versus the “welfarist” approach of protecting only degrees of interests in my paper, “Animal Rights Law”


One thing that is not part of this debate are three things that are absolutely identical in my approach and his:


(1) Animal rights and vegan activism, which is good in many ways but will also help build up democratic potential for animal rights laws, as I would put it;


(2) Never opting for cosmetic changes in the law. That is both unethical because duplicitous and not furthering moral goals, but more ineffective than no legal change at all because it will further entrench animal misery and give people the illusion that real change has occurred


(3) Banning entire areas of animal exploitation. He would of course go for that and I am all over that as well. Good examples are prohibiting animal circus acts and marine mammal shows in England, and banning fox hunting, also in the U.K.


Now Francione states in his book, RAIN WITHOUT THUNDER, that one can reasonably abstain from legislative advocacy at this time, and that is the approach he favours on his website: focus on vegan education, for example, instead. He calls animal rights an “outsider” position from the legislative process, whereas I demonstrate otherwise in my animal rights, abolitionist approach, although we both agree that animal rights are not forthcoming in contemporary laws.


The two key areas for this debate are ETHICS and EFFECTIVENESS. I will both justify my own approach in terms of these, and show that Francionism is no better than but usually much worse than my own, depending which facet one focuses on. Let’s start with ethics, since that is the core of the animal rights movement, after all. These questions are not simple, but complex matters, which will be reflected in my evaluating my many criteria rather than just one or a few.



Let us see if we can agree on criteria for evaluating legislative proposals ethically. I will compare for example my advocating controlled gas killing of chickens versus Francione opposing any such change, or only proto-rights. My approach means the birds:


(1) are not electroshocked into unconsciousness; that must hurt;


(2) would not be left conscious, as they often are after shocking, when they are dipped into a scalding tank for de-feathering


(3) would not be left conscious and terrified of what they see and experience before and while their throats are cut, which would also be painful and not perfectly instantaneous I believe.


Francione’s approach clearly means torture along the lines noted above (and more no doubt). Now this presumably comes under ‘bodily integrity,’ an interest Francione designates as fitting for a right (I would say a right to welfare; it is obvious why Francione resists that term, although having your body intact is not nearly enough to be doing well or OK physically AND mentally). A measure fully respecting bodily integrity would be the birds not being killed at all or would only come with full animal rights. We’d have a LONG time to wait for that. Other reforms he opposes include larger cage sizes instead of living their whole lives in unbearably minimal enclosures often with no room even to move about or stretch a wing, not providing water to thirsty cows in slaughterhouses, among other cruel deprivations that he would deliberately prolong, which to me is morally obscene because also cruel, but let me set about justifying that opinion. [I say this but bear no personal animosity here; I know people have their reasons.]


Anyway, here are the ethical criteria for evaluating such controlled gas killing. Any given legislative measure (whether “welfarist”, proto-rights, or just lack of action deliberately taken as a choice):



(1) must have positive significance for animals


(2) must not endorse animal exploitation


(3) must not exhibit overall complicity with that which is morally wrong


(4) must avoid speciesism as much as possible


(5) must avoid a conflict with animal rights theory as much as possible


(6) must, in the absence of any truly ideal conditions by law, resolve a dilemma choice in a manner that can be reasonably viewed as salvaging the most possible good in the given context.


(7) must secure, as much as possible, a just and decent share of good for animals


(8) must realize what is really best for animals at the given time, if the best that is conceivable or imaginable is not possible to realize in the time frame in quest


(9) must view animals as ends in themselves, not mere means (to use philosopher Immanuel Kant’s influential phrasing)


(10) must not permit unnecessary suffering


(11) must afford a model that can progressively grow into animal rights


(12) must be as conducive as possible towards animal rights laws in the long-term since animal rights is a moral goal


(13) must be as consistent as possible with the principle of equal consideration


(14) must be self-consistent and avoid any charges of hypocrisy


(15) must be sustainable even in light of the fact that we would abolish child abuse entirely, not make it “kinder”


(16) must at least allow for individual kindness towards animals.


I hope people find these criteria agreeable. If not, so much the worse for someone’s position ethically, I would have to say, although I cannot argue for that here. Instead, I am depending on what many animal rights people would agree with. Some of the criteria are not sufficient to formulate animal rights by themselves, but would still be agreed with in conjunction with an animal rights philosophy even by Francionists as I read them. The same goes with the following criteria for evaluating effectiveness of legislative proposals, before we get down to business and actually apply both sets of criteria to this debate:



The measure:


(1) must be regarded as meaningful not only semantically but especially in terms of significance to the animals themselves


(2) must not be positively futile to advocate


(3) will provide the strongest possible protection for animals


(4) must provide benefits that no other pro-animal measure, legislative or other, can result in


(5) will provide the greatest possible inroad against speciesism


(6) will be positively or most conducive towards adopting animal rights in the law


(7) will not lead to such complacency with animal treatment that undermines achieving animal rights in the law or even makes it futile to aim for such laws


(8) must be achievable as one criteria of success


(9) should not lead to such increases in animal product consumption that would make the measure have an overall negative impact on animals or their rights (EIGHT) again!


(10) must pass a reasonable test period to see if the given strategy is successful animal law


(11)  should ideally be illustrated to be successful with a real-world example, or at least a plausible hypothetical example


(12) must overcome Gary L. Francione’s seven or so supposed reasons why animal “welfarist” laws cannot work in principle.


OK, now let’s apply our criteria. (I would defend them in a later work.)



SZTYBEL = mine and PETA’s and most animal activists’ endorsement of controlled gas killing of chickens (see above), using my framework


FRANCIONE DON’T = his advocating abstaining from legislative reform, his actual position

FRANCIONE DO = his proto-rights theory of supposedly acceptable incremental reforms


(1)   must have positive significance for animals.


SZTYBEL: If actions are to have any positive significance at all, it must be in relation to sentient beings. That is because, simply, nothing is significant to any nonsentient being. That is why toasters do not have rights. But we also cannot ultimately act for things such as rights, abolition, or speciesism. These ideals do not care about anything. But we can act for animal rights for the sake of sentient beings, and that is the best caring framework. By contrast, Francionism tries to act for abolition or animal rights even when that is at odds with what is really best for sentient beings in the LEGISLATIVE short-term. The best that is really possible is the best that can actually be accomplished. What is ideally, conceptually or imaginably best may not be possible, by contrast, except in the long-term. We can and should promote animal rights and veganism in the short-term, but cannot expect to pass laws to that effect. The best caring approach aims for animal rights law for the long-term, and the best that is really possible for animal law, that is for sentient beings, in the short-term. In controlled gas killing the three benefits for animals are all of positive significance to the chickens.


FRANCIONE DON’T: Also advocates animal rights law for long-term, but is missing the three items of positive significance.


FRANCIONE DO: He has no recommendations for proto-rights since this is a matter of suffering, and he does not recognize a right not to suffer unnecessarily. He does however support avoiding unnecessary suffering. See item (10).


(2)   must not endorse animal exploitation


SZTYBEL: I do not endorse animal slaughter. Nor does PETA. Anyone who knows us knows this. Other people do and that is why chicken slaughter persists. But we urge lawmakers to offer animals the best relief they can in the short-term since our long-term goal of abolition is not now realizable.

FRANCIONE DON’T: Exploitation means ill-using someone, or using them in such a way that involve harm or injustice. Francione’s do- nothing approach on this front (though he actively promotes veganism) means more (dire) exploitation because more harm, and also a greater degree of injustice occurs.

FRANCIONE DO: Again, no solutions, worse exploitation.


(3)   must not exhibit overall complicity with that which is morally wrong


SZTYBEL: My ultimate principle of moral rightness is best caring for sentient beings. Seeking animal rights as best that is really possible in the long-term and the best that is really possible in the short-term is obligatory. Improved slaughter is perfectly consistent with this standard.


FRANCIONE DON’T: He upholds animal rights, anti-speciesism as fundamental principles that are intuited, or held with no reason. Yet a reason is available, what is best for sentient beings.

But that standard condemns Francionist do-nothingism legislatively.

FRANCIONE DO: Francionists are complicit with what is morally wrong, that is, the state allowing what is avoidably and atrociously worse for birds. Again they have no solution here.


(4)   must avoid speciesism as much as possible


SZTYBEL: I am an anti-speciesist. Every time discrimination occurs due to species or species-characteristics, that is wrong. One type of speciesism is being unconcerned with avoidable animal suffering, unlike in the case of humans. Best caring would restrict against this in the short-term legislatively.

FRANCIONE DON’T: Allows more speciesist discrimination by permitting the unnecessary suffering, contrary to Francione’s own professed principles.

FRANCIONE DO: ditto, since no solutions here.


(5)   must avoid a conflict with animal rights theory as much as possible


SZTYBEL: Aims for animal rights in the long-term. Since rights theory is justified by best caring, short-term relief is justifiable. Rights in the law are only really possible in the long-term, as pretty much everyone agrees. If animals have a right to be precluded unnecessary suffering, as I would argue is a requirement of anti-speciesism, then Francione is more at odds with this right than my more humane law. Think of all of the interests protected by rights. Now picture that we can respect those interest entirely or by degrees. My model affords a DEGREE of protection and Francione’s none, so my model more closely approximates animal rights than his model, which disregards animals’ interests more than mine.

FRANCIONE DON’T: At odds with anti-speciesist rights as above.



(6) must, in the absence of any truly ideal conditions by law, resolve a dilemma choice in a manner that can be reasonably viewed as salvaging the most possible good in the given context.


SZTYBEL: Dilemma theory is applicable in any case in which ideal conditions are impossible, so one must choose a course of action that is unideal. It would normally be morally wrong to leave someone to burn in a building if one could save the person, but not ethically mistaken if one can only rescue one person from the fire, a classic example that Francione himself uses. In dilemmas it is most caring to salvage the most good. My approach plainly does this, whereas Francione’s results in less good and more positive harms to the chickens.

FRANCIONE DON’T: Chooses the dilemma option that is less good and more harmful for animals.



(7) must secure, as much as possible, a just and decent share of good for animals


SZTYBEL: Again, picture all the interests of animals. They are closer to a just and decent concern with avoidable suffering on my model than on Francione’s, which is farther away from full respect for this interest. Just because speciesists also speak of unnecessary suffering does not mean that anti-speciesists should not also aim for this. Indeed Francione aims for this he says, but he does not do as he says.

FRANCIONE DON’T: Farther away from just and decent treatment.



(8) must realize what is really best for animals at the given time, if the best that is conceivable or imaginable is not possible to realize in the time frame in question.


SZYTBEL: See above. Also, respecting 80% of an interest is really better than respecting an interest not at all, or advocating 100% respect for the interest knowing that would be defeated as a law-proposal.

FRANCIONE DON’T: Animals remain further from what is best for them. Francione writes: “I agree with [Peter—DS] Singer that it would be better for ‘food’ animals if we adopted true ‘free-range’ farming and discontinued factory farming.” (INTRODUCTION TO ANIMAL RIGHTS, p. 145) Yet he actively resists what is best for sentient beings out of idol worship, to use a metaphor, of ideas such as rights, resisting so many anti-factory-farming legal measures.



(9) must view animals as ends in themselves, and not as a mere means (to use philosopher Immanuel Kant’s influential phrasing)


SZTYBEL: By this, Kant means persons should not be exploited, or we should not disregard the interests of others if we use them or their services (e.g., exploiting a worker). On my model there is less disregard for animals’ interest in not suffering. There is no BETTER regard for interests than seeking the best for someone that is possible at that time, and that is precisely what my best caring affords.

FRANCIONE DON’T AND DO: Animals get less treated as ends in themselves, or with dignity, and more as a mere means, or with blatant disregard for their interests. Animals get treated as mere means I in other ways on Francione’s framework:


(a) He asks whether helping these chickens will conduce towards animal rights law eventually. Thus the birds are considered as a mere means towards a distant goal; my approach does not do this because it considers present-day animals as ends-in-themselves as much as possible



(b)  He approves of laws, such as banning dehorning, that still would treat animals as mere means (so would mine, but I am MINIMIZING this, and can justify it, unlike Francione)


(c ) He says we should realize that animal “welfarist” laws lead to complacency (discussed under effectiveness); the logical implication is that keeping conditions cruel makes people less complacent, thus using animals as a mere means towards the end of checking complacency


(d) he acts ultimately for mere things as rights, abolition, using animals or sentient beings as mere means towards these because their interests are degraded and not addresse not addressed out of “service” to these ideals— not that they care about anything; animals become subordinated to a concern with abstractions


(10) must not permit unnecessary suffering


SZTYBEL: Plainly animals would suffer less as I explained.

FRANCIONE DON’T: Francionism leads to more suffering. He champions the principle of avoiding unnecessary suffering but oddly only considers this principle in terms of abolishing animal exploitation. He does not consider unnecessary suffering that can be curbed with “welfarist” laws although that is a key component of this debate. He fails to consider this only because he cannot win on this point, even conceivably. His approach tolerates much, much more animal suffering by advocating no change or else unrealistic proto-rights that equally result in nothing.



(11) must afford a model that can progressively grow into animal rights


SZTYBEL: Again, there are an array of interests that rights protect. Securing a degree of respecting interests under “welfarism” brings us closer to higher degrees of respect or even the full respect that rights involve.

FRANCIONE DON’T AND DO: His approach of course can grow into animal rights, although it leaves us farther away from that full respect for interests in the legislative short-term, which is probably a very long time or even the rest of history if we never achieve animal rights laws (I prefer to remain optimistic however).


(12) Must be as conducive as possible towards animal rights laws in the long-term since animal rights is a moral goal SZTYBEL: see effectiveness discussion. But ending up with nothing as in this example is again more far short of rights.

FRANCIONE DON’T AND DO: see effectiveness discussion


(13) must be as consistent as possible with the principle of equal consideration


SZTYBEL: Animal “welfarism” brings animal suffering closer to parity with consideration for humans as the suffering is negated. Humans are supposed to have their unnecessary suffering negated, although this is far from always true in practice. I advocate a much fuller form of equal consideration for the long-term, as Francione does too.

FRANCIONE DON’T AND DO: Farther from being at parity with the consideration of suffering in a non-speciesist manner. Advocating equal consideration for animals in the legislative short-term does not win such consideration. Francione would claim that in the human case we would not embrace reformist measures. But if a vegan animal rightist were unjustly imprisoned, and we could not free him or her, we should support making sure he or she gets access to vegan food, which is not always the case, at least adequately. That is reforming the injustice, not abolishing it. Dehorning being banned as he says also regulates cattle-destruction, not abolishing it too, which makes Francione a mammoth hypocrite. I can say that without prejudice or ill will, but just as a descriptive fact.


(14) must be self-consistent and avoid any charges of hypocrisy


SZTYBEL: All of my findings are consistent with the best caring principle.


FRANCIONE: Pays lip service to opposing unnecessary suffering, antispeciesism, but when it comes down to cases he allows more suffering which is allowed to occur by government for speciesist reasons. He opposes a law to provide water to thirsty cows in slaughterhouses because it leaves a speciesist practice (RAIN WITHOUT THUNDER p. 208-) and involves a conflict with rights theory (RAIN p. 211). Yet he approves laws to ban dehorning, which equally leave speciesist practices that conflict with rights theory. Plain hypocrisy.


(15) must be sustainable even in light of the fact that we would abolish child abuse entirely, not make it “kinder” SZTYBEL: I would abolish child abuse. But asking for normal treatment of animals just leads to their abuse, unlike in the disanalogous case of children.

FRANCIONE DON’T AND DO: His proposals such as banning dehorning would only abolish the abuse by degrees too. And the torture of the chickens plainly involve worse abuse of these birds, further highlighting his basic hypocrisy.


(16) must at least allow for individual kindness towards animalsSZTYBEL: Full freedom on this score.

FRANCIONE DON’T AND DO: Says we can help thirsty cows in slaughterhouses out of a consideration of their welfare (individuals at the micro level as he calls it), [I know this is like the speech  of the Ents in the LORD OF THE RINGS, although I did not take as long to say "hello"] but cannot help them with laws at the macro level. But macro laws address each individual affected by them, and individuals going to stockyards is a macro phenomenon.


(17) consistent with non-violence

FRANCIONE: Does not address the violence often done to birds of electroshocking, scalding alive, being hung upside down, and being killed in a cut-throat manner while fully conscious.

SZTYBEL: Makes an inroad in this specific form of violence against nonhuman animals.


I conclude that Francionists are immoral inasmuch as they are inconsistent with all of the above principles to the fullest possible degree. He does no worse than my approach on items 2, 11, and 15, but in all other cases is patently further from satisfying the given moral ideal.


** David regrets writing the above sentence as it may have offended. That was not his intention and would like it known if he could change it, he would, to:


I conclude that Francionism is at odds with the best kind of moral principles for sentient beings insofar as it is inconsistent with the above ethical principles.  **




The measure:


(1)   must be regarded as meaningful not only semantically but especially in terms of significance to the animals themselves


SZTYBEL: Meaningful relief for birds in 3 aspects, even though Francione dogmatically writes: “The status of animals as property renders meaningless our claim that we reject the status of animals as things.” Welfarist measures reject animals as mere things since their suffering is avoided, although they are not FULLY respected through imperfect laws. FRANCIONE: No meaningful relief for the chickens.


(2)   must not be positively futile to advocate


SZTYBEL: Not futile. PETA has won this provision with some companies, etc.

FRANCIONE DON’T: Doing nothing to affect the case is certainly futile from the birds’ point of view.

FRANCIONE DO: If one advocates fulfilling a right in effect that is futile. But again he can have no solution to this or offers none.


(3)   will provide the strongest possible protection for animals


SZTYBEL: A higher degree of protection offered in 3 aspects. FRANCIONE: There is nothing weaker than no additional protection at all.


(4)   must provide benefits that no other pro-animal measure, legislative or other, can result in


SZTYBEL: This is a key point. Those chickens in the slaughterhouse can ONLY get relief through legislation, not through education, talk shows, or whatever. Exploiters will only treat the birds differently if laws are enforced to that effect.

FRANCIONE: Utterly misses a key opportunity to help these birds, and endless other animals who suffer needlessly.


(5)   will provide the greatest possible inroad against speciesism See above under ethics part.

(6) will be positively or most conducive towards adopting animal rights in the law


SZTYBEL: I do not claim that animal “welfarist” laws CAUSE abolition, as Francione claims “new welfarists” believe. “Welfarist” laws CONDUCE towards animal rights though, because they affect society and make it kinder. Animal rights seems ridiculous and contemptible in an unkind society. China has few vegans and animal rights sympathizers, and so less democratic potential for animal rights as I would put it. However, animal rights is both interesting and plausible enough in a kinder society. To disagree here, the Francionist would have to say that kinder laws do not contribute to a kinder society, even though everyone is supposed to look to the law, that it is more or equally likely to have animal rights in a crueller culture. Both theses are ludicrous. Also, people can be convinced of animal rights without animal rights laws, as is proven every day. FRANCIONE: Leaves bird cruelty, which is not maximally conducive towards a kinder society and hence animal rights law.


(7) will not lead to such complacency with animal treatment that undermines achieving animal rights in the law or even makes it futile to aim for such laws


SZTYBEL: It is qualitatively worse to be content with a miserable state of affairs than a better one. Quantitatively, “welfarism” conduces more towards animal rights. A concern to always get the best for animals counts against complacency, as does the best caring dictum that “welfare” is really animal ILLFARE. (see “The Rights of Animal Persons”). That is nothing to be smug about. It is implied by Francionists  that “welfarist” laws will retard or prevent animal rights laws, but it all depends on human motivation. If there is enough motivation, then we will eventually pass such laws. If there will be insufficient motivation, then we will never have animal rights and we should aim for the best we can get for animals all the same. If we are unsure, it is one of the above, and that again means “welfarism”. FRANCIONE: If we achieved his more stringent proto-rights, this would inspire even more complacency, since people would say it is almost as if animals have rights. Again, it treats animals as a mere means to keep them miserable so that people will be less complacent.


(8)must be achievable as one criteria of success



FRANCIONE: Well, nothing is always “achievable”; proto-rights now are not as discussed above.


(9)should not lead to such increases in animal product consumption that would make the measure have an overall negative impact on animals or their rights


SZTYBEL: I show that overall my approach leads to less suffering and death even if there is a temporary spike in animal product consumption if we consider the long-term. [see for details]Less cruel meat is more expensive, denting consumption. FRANCIONE: His proto-rights would boost consumption even more since people would be more satisfied with them.


(10)  must pass a reasonable test period to see if the given strategy is successful animal law


SZTYBEL: The test period is not over for animal rights pragmatism. It’s too soon to tell what will work best. We need both animal “welfarism” in the short-term and animal rights in the long-term, and we do not need to “wait” to know this.

FRANCIONE: The test is over because it is convenient for him to say so.  Or at least he gives no reason why else.


(11)    should ideally be illustrated to be successful with a real-world example, or at least a plausible hypothetical example Let’s use Sweden this time. It has banned anti-biotics and so factory farming. Hogs have more room, better surroundings, time outdoors, less stress, straw bedding, no farrowing crates, and toys.


SZTYBEL: Obviously better for the pigs.

FRANCIONE: Has nothing to say except usual dogmatic pronouncements that we cannot have animal “welfare” and so forth, that it is still speciesist, etc., but see above discussion.


(12)    must overcome Gary L. Francione’s seven or so supposed reasons why animal “welfarist” laws cannot work in principle



1. will not result in good for animals only their more efficient exploitation

2. only property owners’ interests will be considered

3. property cannot have legal relations with owners

4. if animals have no market value, they have no value at all

5. a pen cannot have rights against its owner, neither can we balance the interests of animals against property owners

6. there is a presumptions owner look after their animals

7. Legal wrangles: laws not adjudicated in animals’ favour; minor penalties; lack of enforcement; needing to prove cruel intent; many species of animals exempt



1. Not in Sweden

2. Not in Sweden

3. Apparently not in Sweden

4. Not in Sweden

5. Pens have no interests, animals do, and their interests are respected to a considerable degree in Sweden

6. Not in Sweden

7. All these can be avoided and did not stop Swedes from really accomplishing something


(13) be a worthwhile use of time, money, and other resources to help animals

SZTYBEL: These reforms are the only thing that can help billions of animals who  need help today, yesterday and in the future, who as argued above, cannot be helped in any other way. Not all activists need work on this, but only those so inclined who are suited to the task, who can and probably would do other things as well.

FRANCIONE: No investment in relief for these chickens, so a moot point.



Thanks for your patience. I say there is no mere difference of opinion here. I think can show that Francione is just plain wrong in what he says about ethics and effectiveness. I don’t think everyone will agree, but it is easier to dismiss my claims than to refute them. My case keeps getting more refined, and I keep finding more faults with Francione’s, and he never addresses them. My arguments have been around for years and no one has really put a dent in them, to the best of my learning. I hope this explains why I am a more consistent and effective abolitionist than are Francione and the Francionists.


Brooke Cameron:

Wow, thanks for taking my question so seriously, and replying with such detail! May I ask a really quick follow up please?


David Sztybel

That is kind of you to see. Clearly the little box was meant to constrain windbags like me. But please, what is on your mind, Brooke?


Roger Yates

go Brooke


Brooke Cameron

David, is it that you are essentially saying that you'd be happy if Gary Francione's site was called Animal Rights: An Abolitionist Approach, rather than THE Abolitionist Approach?


David Sztybel

Yes, I think that would be perfect. More accurate, and more respectful of other abolitionists such as Joan Dunayer, and, I even think, myself.


Brooke Cameron:

Thanks, David. I agree.


David Sztybel

Cool, thanks to you.

Part 2 of the ARZone chat with David Sztybel continues here:


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Comment by Kate✯GO VEGAN+NOBODY GETS HURT Ⓥ on January 25, 2011 at 23:50

Hello David. You said this -


Thank you for the quotation. I am glad that you brought this misspeak to my attention. I should have said something like "Francionist ideas are immoral" because as I said, I don't believe that Francionists themselves are necessarily unethical. Again, it does not make sense to me to class someone trying to be ethical as unethical. I apologize for the error. Kate, could you please amend the transcript to take out the offending language? I wrote it in haste since I had to prepare much before the chat, including my report on the AR-AW debate. I agree that my wording that you cite is not fitting, but it was a typo and I do not think that it is a reflection that I lack in kindness (not that you said that; you critiqued what I said rather). I appreciate that you brought this to my attention. -


This is the quotation being referred to

 I conclude that Francionists are immoral inasmuch as they are inconsistent with all of the above principles to the fullest possible degree.

The proposed typo correction is to change the plural "Francionists" to a singular "Francionist" followed by the word "ideas" - so then it will read as this

"Francionist ideas are immoral"



Previously it was possible for me to exchange your supplementary reply to Tim Marshall's question with an updated version of it. This is because your responses were as comments like this one. It was easy for me to add a new comment with your updated response and to delete the older version of it. I don't have access to the actual transcript after it's publication, so I cannot make later ammendments to them. My role as transcriber is simply to record the chat as it happens and then to send this on to Carolyn who tidies it up ready for it's publication. To make the ammendment you propose it would be necessary to ask her about it. As she may not see this comment, I recommend that you ask her about it directly.



Comment by David Sztybel on January 25, 2011 at 22:46

Hello there, Barbara,


Thank you for the quotation. I am glad that you brought this misspeak to my attention. I should have said something like "Francionist ideas are immoral" because as I said, I don't believe that Francionists themselves are necessarily unethical. Again, it does not make sense to me to class someone trying to be ethical as unethical. I apologize for the error. Kate, could you please amend the transcript to take out the offending language? I wrote it in haste since I had to prepare much before the chat, including my report on the AR-AW debate. I agree that my wording that you cite is not fitting, but it was a typo and I do not think that it is a reflection that I lack in kindness (not that you said that; you critiqued what I said rather). I appreciate that you brought this to my attention.

I realize, Barb, that your time is limited, but I do not think you registered what I wrote in other respects. You write:


"It appears to me that you believe that Francione and those who follow his brand of abolitionism do not care what is happening to animals in the present. Instead, it appears to me that what he is saying is that the efforts to improve their lives in the present have failed dismally and continue to do so. Some of the emphasis on treatment has resulted in more people, once vegetarian, returning to eating animals."


I never said that Francionists do not care about what happens to animals in the present. You are putting words into my mouth there. I agree that they do not care adequately for animals in the present by trying to obstruct efforts to formulate meaningful relief legislation. In my "Animal Rights Law" paper which I referenced (I do not expect you to have read that, of course, since everyone's time is limited for one thing) I cite Francione as saying that he cares for animals on a "micro" level but resists enacted laws to address animals on a "macro" level. I have criticized him as incoherent on this point, but it is acknowledged just the same. Also, I point out in this discussion and quite widely that Francionists advocate veganism, which of course cares about animals now. In "Animal Rights Law" I also point out that Francionists think they are acting in animals' best interests altogether with their approach to animal law. You are plainly mischaracterizing what I say.


You put to me all of PETA's troubles, whereas if you read my chat answer about PETA, you would have read me repeating the same criticisms you make. But I also pointed out many positive things that they do, and I do not think those should be washed away from peoples' minds in a tide of negativism. Fortunately, PETA's achievements cannot be washed away from reality due to peoples' negativism.


I have dealt with the points you mention about AW laws failing. All Francionists I find ignore cases that WORK, and that are substantive, and that completely contradict Francione's totally negative model, e.g., the Sweden example I gave. I also gave a link to deal with the increased consumption objection which shows that the spike is inevitable and that there would be much MORE suffering and death for animals (really the heart of this objection) on Francione's approach, not mine. Again, please see:


People can ignore that, of course. But I think that would be too bad for activists, and especially for the animals.


I know Francione has rescues in his home; so do I. Also, it is not as though I advocate treating animals as things or that Francione offers the only sort of approach to that idea. Most of your complaints about my perspective seem to be based in an absence of awareness of what I am actually saying. But you are not alone. I find that is the rule with people who try to critique what I am saying about AR-AW. It was the case when I tried to dialogue on ARCO, and when Rob Johnson, a Francionist, tried to mount a blog critique of some of my writing. My approach advocates considerings animals not as things to the maximum possible extent by respecting their interests to the fullest possible degree. There can be no better treatment of animals, present and future, than that. Neglecting the possibilities of relief legislation is neglecting something that can be done for animals. The public does support substantive changes so we should push for that. To characterize all AW law as weak is simply false. To mix that up with what I am advocating is actually misleading.


Obviously I am not stating that you are intentionally misrepresenting my ideas. Far from it!


Ah yes, the burnout thing.


I can respect that you are a Francionist trying to do the best you can for animals. Thank you also for your note of appreciation. I have truly benefited from this opportunity for dialogue.





Comment by David Sztybel on January 25, 2011 at 22:08
I believe that I will have to let Eduardo have the last word here. The language barrier is proving to be too much for me. Thank you for all of your thoughts and questions, Eduardo. I'm sorry I was unable to do better justice to them. Cheers, David
Comment by David Sztybel on January 25, 2011 at 22:03
Hola Eduardo, my comment was addressed to Barbara.
Comment by Eduardo Terrer on January 25, 2011 at 19:32


I don't understand...

Do you consider my perspective as francionist?

Or are you telling to Barbara thinking in other questions that are out of our comments?

Is only for try to nuderstand what are you understanding of my words

Comment by David Sztybel on January 25, 2011 at 13:13
I think that a framework of ideas that permits avoidable cruelty is cruel to animals, in the sense of passive cruelty as Regan calls it, or allowing cruelty to happen. That is different from active cruelty or setting out to cause suffering. That does not mean that Francionists, say, are necessarily cruel themselves as persons. They do not act for reasons of cruelty at all, and seek anyway to act out of sufficient caring for animals.
Comment by David Sztybel on January 25, 2011 at 12:59
And: I thought I added another entry but maybe not. Barbara and others, permit me to draw a distinction between evaluating a PERSON ethically, and evaluating a set of ideas and ensuing actions ethically. I think Francionists and related kinds of abolitionists are doing their best to be ethical. Therefore as persons they are not unethical at all. You can't do better than your best. So it is important to try not to take my remarks personally. "Immoral Francionist" is Barbara's phrase, so far as I can tell, and it applies immorality to the person, which I do not agree with either. However, I am free as an ethicist to assess moral theories or parts of them as morally right or wrong. That is at a very impersonal level of looking at the ideas themselves in universal terms. Francionists may think I am well-meaning but misguided, and I may think the same in return. Not all do though. I have been slurred as diishonest by Roger Yates. And another prominent Francionists slandered me as diishonest and malicious. That I do not countenance as morally right, but I also thinks it reflects on someone's character if they are habitual mud-slingers. Thankfully, the people on this list are by far mostly not. I hope I have explained my stance somewhat adequately.
Comment by David Sztybel on January 25, 2011 at 12:32
And: It is the set of ideas and consequent actions that I am saying differs from my idea of what is ethical. That does not mean I am calling any PERSON immoral. There is an important distinction here. Any person who is doing his or her best to be ethical, like ANYONE on this list I reckon, is not an "immoral Francionist" or an "unethical person." At most, I would have to say such a person is well-meaning but misguided, as I expect others would think of me that way too.
Comment by David Sztybel on January 25, 2011 at 12:25
Also: I believe it is wrong to do contrary to what is best for animals, but I would not consider Francionists to be unethical the way a violent criminal would be for example, who cares nothing for others. I believe Francionists are, more or less, trying their very best to be ethical and committed to their principles. And I respect that. In a broader sense there is profound ethical commitment, and in many cases to shared ideals such as veganism and so much more, which of course I think is admirable. We can have ethical disagreement without being offended by that very fact. However, it would not be fair for Francionists to have the chance to call animal rights pragmatists immoral without me having theh same right, in accordance with my own principles.
Comment by David Sztybel on January 25, 2011 at 12:21
I don't follow what Barbara is saying. When did I call someone an "immoral Francionist"? I would not say that Francionists or abolitionists of that sort do not care about animals. I think Francionism is unethical, but I realize that they believe what I advocate is also unethical. I hear that quite a bit in fact. I am sorry if you think I was "unkind." Since we differ on key points then I am not surprised when Francionists call my advocacy unethical and impractical. I think both sides realize that the other side thinks the opposite in this respect. I do think it is cruel to discount or minimize the cruelties that can be prevented through anti-cruelty legislation for ideological reasons. I realize that those who disagree with me will believe it is not cruel but sufficiently caring, but I do not agree. Again, Barabara, I am sorry I offended you. Any further clarification would be welcomed.


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