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Permissible Use and Interdependence: Against Principled Veganism



Are animals not ours to use? According to proponents of veganism such as Gary Francione, any and all use of animals by humans is exploitative and wrong. It is wrong because animals have intrinsic worth and humans' use of animals fails to respect that worth. Contra Francione, I argue that that there are conditions under which it may be morally appropriate to collect, consume, sell, or otherwise use animal products. Francione is mistaken in his belief that assigning intrinsic worth to a being is impossible if said being is also conceived as a resource. Using and (non-instrumental) valuing are not mutually exclusive; if they were, many if not most human relationships would be deemed morally unacceptable. Through a series of thought experiments involving intra-human relationships, I suggest that moral condemnation of relationships within which a less dependent party regularly takes from a more dependent party is indefensible. In fact, relationships of use between asymmetrically dependent parties are essential to the functioning of cooperative society, and are therefore desirable. My aims with this article are to convince readers of the need to reject principled veganism, and to garner support for new philosophical accounts of morally appropriate human-nonhuman animal relationships.