What are rights?

In his Introduction to Animal Rights, Gary Francione tells us, “There is a great deal of confusion surrounding the concept of rights.”

Something that Gary doesn’t really clear up.

He says that:

a right is a particular way of protecting interests. To say that an interest is protected by a right is to say that the interest is protected against being ignored or violated simply because this will benefit someone else. We can think of a right of any sort as a fence or a wall that surrounds an interest and upon which hangs a “no trespass” sign that forbids entry, even if it would be beneficial to the person seeking that entry.

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The Semi and the Butcher


This is a parody in the style of Ayn Rand by Brett Holverstott. As i have tremendous respect for Ayn Rand’s work, this is not meant to dismiss it, but i post the story because it’s both absurdly humourous—to those familiar with Ayn’s work—and unwittingly touches on themes related to both this blog and my book (Society VX).

I’ve changed the version i found slightly to correct minor errors (eg spelling), and to try to make the second-last paragraph clearer.


Ayn Rand answers the question which has plagued philosophers and the general public for centuries: “Why did the chicken cross the road?” She proposes that throughout the history of poultry, chickens have been offered two false alternatives: to either die as roadkill or submit to The Butcher. With ground-breaking symbolism paralleling Nietzsche’s Apollo vs. Dionysus, Rand argues that each alternative is a reciprocal manifestation of the same ideology—and proposes a third alternative consistent with her Objectivist philosophy of living on Earth.

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The African Enlightenment

Ethiopian flag

Remarkable article by Dag Herbjørnsrud that discusses the Ethiopian philosopher Zera Yacob, whose views preceded those of thinkers more commonly associated with the Enlightenment.

While both René Descartes and John Locke thought atheists were anathema and John Locke and Voltaire invested in slavery, Zera believed in a tolerant, non-sectarian God that didn’t approve of slavery:

All men are equal in the presence of God; and all are intelligent, since they are his creatures; he did not assign one people for life, another for death, one for mercy, another for judgment. Our reason teaches us that this sort of discrimination cannot exist.

Further, while Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Women came out in 1792, in the previous century Zera maintained that women weren’t inferior to men, and that “husband and wife are equal in marriage.”

Finally available on preorder

Society VX

After several twists and turns, my book is finally available for preorder on Amazon.

The description on Amazon still needs to be fixed, but it’s locked for the moment while the book is on preorder. Even so, while not as specific as i’d like, it’s still more or less ok.

This is the description that, barring further changes, will appear on the site once the book is out of preorder:

Before AI takes over, could we refashion society to do away with politicians, million dollar lobbies, oversized bureaucracies, mountains of regulation—and the deaths of billions of other animals? This book makes the case that a more complete realisation of freedom hinges on an acceptance of veganism. Based on the work of Ayn Rand, the book both introduces the sweep of her ideas and reconsiders one of her central principles: the standard of value.

Delayed Again

Obviously my book didn’t meet the tentative 10 December release date i talked about in my last post.

But it is coming this month.

The book itself is ready to go now, but a few related matters still need to be settled.

Rather than give a specific date this time, i’ll just say it will be ready in time for christmas.

I’ve been in direct touch with Santa, who tells me he’s now vegan, and has coordinated with Amazon to have my book ready for instant delivery before the big day.

Gary Francione’s Moral Realism

In the Introduction to his 2000 book Introduction to Animal Rights, Gary Francione says:

Moral judgments may not be certain in the same way that mathematical statements are, but moral judgments do not require such certainty in order to be persuasive and compelling. If one moral view is supported by better reasons than others, then that moral view is presumably the one we should adopt—until some other moral position with even better reasons in its support comes along. If an argument in favor of a moral position is valid—that is, the conclusion of the argument follows from the premises in such a way that if the premises were true, the conclusion must also be true—then any such argument should be accepted over an argument in which there is no such relationship between the premises and conclusion. If a moral position “fits” more comfortably with other considered moral positions that we hold, then we ought to accept that moral position over another that does not so fit.