Is animal rights a subversive threat to human exceptionalism, or is it the next necessary step in society’s moral growth — as its adherents claim? Today’s episode of Humanize features a respectful conversation between Wesley and the animal rights philosopher Gary Francione, the leader of what is known as the “Abolitionist Movement,” that seeks to end all instrumental use of animals by human beings.
Is meat eating an act of violence, as Francione contends — or are we naturally omnivores that benefit nutritionally from eating meat? Indeed, is meat eating just a matter of “taste,” or — as Smith argues — part of the “natural” human condition that goes back to the days of our living in the cave? Would any other species give up a natural diet, and if not, doesn’t that mean humans are indeed exceptional? Or is mere sentience or consciousness the proper measure of moral worth? Is the “animal welfare” approach to our treatment of animals best and moral, or are we duty-bound to respect the rights of animals not to be property? Indeed, is it unacceptable “speciesism” to judge our treatment of animals differently than we would if the same acts were done to a human? These are important issues that cut to the heart of what it means to be human and bear directly on our responsibilities as moral beings. It is a conversation from two radically differing philosophical perspectives that you won’t want to miss.