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.

The ICAS Hierarchy

In my last post i mentioned that Steve Best cofounded the Institute for Critical Animal Studies, ICAS.

ICAS has 10 guiding prínciples, number 5 of which tells readers, in part, that it, “Rejects apolitical, conservative, and liberal positions in order to advance an anti-capitalist and, more generally, a radical anti-hierarchical politics.”

According to this, not only are their politics “anti-hierarchical,” but radically anti-hierarchical.

Just how radical?

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The ACAR Conundrum

As i mentioned in my previous post, many writers in favour of animal rights (AR), such as Gary Francione and Steve Best are anti-capitalist (AC).

Gary Francione favours “democratic socialism” (see the first comment on this post), while Steve Best advocates a form of social anarchism, captured in point 5 of this summary document about the Institute for Critical Animal Studies which Steve helped form.

In both cases, their political views are at odds with their views on animal rights.

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The Vegan Thesis

How is my book related to veganism?

Writers from Gary Francione to Steve Best are all anti-capitalist to varying degrees (Gary broadly, Steve strongly).

I present Ayn Rand’s case that capitalism is the moral basis for social organisation. But i also show that the same reasoning serves as a theoretical foundation for veganism.

To be clear, this is not capitalism in its present state, but in the form outlined by Ayn: hinted at, partial, an unknown ideal.

As such, no one that accepts the validity of this ideal can dismiss veganism. They may disagree that capitalism and veganism are inextricably bound, but they can’t simply brush it off as though it has no consequence.

In turn, no one that accepts the validity of veganism can dismiss capitalism—as i describe it.

Anti-Capitalist Book Buyers

In my last post, i talked about how the prices of some anti-capitalist books had a distinctly capitalist ring to them.

This is likely due to the method publishers use to put them out, based on being prescribed as textbooks and/or bought by libraries.

A further irony of their price is that if they’re prescribed as textbooks, potential buyers may be young people with low incomes, which seems especially likely if they’re interested in anti-capitalism.

The claim that the high price of textbooks is an unavoidable part of the capitalist system doesn’t seem particularly persuasive in an era of low cost duplication, e-documents, self-publishing and websites.

If, on the other hand, these books are sold to libraries, while some may be private, many get funds from government.

This would mean the money for an anti-capitalist book opposing a capitalist state is coming from the state.

And where does the state get its funds from?

From its citizens. Which an anti-capitalist may argue is a legitimate use of public money, spreading knowledge of the problems with capitalism.

Anti-Capitalist Book Prices

Animal Oppression and Capitalism

NOTE: This post is not mocking the authors mentioned, merely highlighting the irony of anti-capitalist book prices.

The prices of some anti-capitalist books have a decidedly capitalist ring to them.

The 2003 book, Anti-Capitalism: A Marxist Introduction, has a hardcover price starting at $69.95 on Amazon—for the used version. One copy is going for $675—display value?

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Measure of value

Steve Best says that “the only measure of value in capitalism is exchange value, not the intrinsic value of life.”

Exchange value enriches life. It makes travel possible; enables us to buy food at the supermarket; to communicate across the world by email; and even to work at universities decrying capitalism.

As i mentioned in my last post, Ayn Rand tells us in The Objectivist Ethics, that “The principle of trade is the only rational ethical principle for all human relationships, personal and social, private and public, spiritual and material. It is the principle of justice.”

As such, a measure of value in capitalism is certainly exchange value, whether that’s of tyres or tofu.

But is exchange value the only measure?

No. In fact, to arrive at capitalism as a social system, and to arrive at morality before that, there must be an ultimate standard of value. And that ultimate standard of value, contrary to Steve, is life.

Any action that disregards the value of life is not capitalism, but a flawed understanding of it.