About | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline

13 Cardozo L. Rev. 1317 (1991 - 1992)

handle is hein.journals/cdozo13 and id is 1339 raw text is: CARNO-PHALLOGOCENTRISM

Gary L. Francione*
In his essay, Force of Law: The Mystical Foundation of Author-
ity, ' Jacques Derrida correctly asserts that carnivorous sacrifice is
essential to the structure of subjectivity and vital to our modernity.2
He also establishes that this notion of sacrifice is particularly applica-
ble to our treatment of nonhuman animals, and he labels our injustice
or violence toward nonhumans carno-phallogocentrism.3 Derrida
concludes that animals are not the subjects of the law or of law.4
Although Derrida is most certainly correct to maintain that the status
of nonhumans in our legal system is problematic, I do think that
nonhumans may, in a sense, be regarded as legal subjects. Neverthe-
less, nonhumans will still fail to prevail in most conflicts with humans
because of complex social and legal attitudes about the nature of
nonhumans as legal subjects. I wish to stress that I recognize that
Derrida's comments were made merely as an illustration of other pri-
mary points in his essay, and that, in any event, Derrida does not hold
himself out as one familiar with the intricacies of American regula-
tory law. Accordingly, I am using Derrida as an interlocutor in order
to explore briefly some of these social and legal attitudes.
With respect to nonhuman animals, we routinely celebrate the
sacrifice about which Derrida speaks when we experiment on animals
in the laboratory5 or consume them at our dinner table.6 Indeed, our
disrespect for nonhumans is so profound that virtually any human
interest-however trivial-is sufficient to trump any animal interest-
however significant. For example, although no one would seriously
suggest that a fur coat serves any value apart from human vanity, that
value is apparently sufficient to justify the deaths-by means quite
unpleasant-of millions of animals every year.7 Rodeos and bull-
0 Professor of Law, Rutgers University School of Law-Newark. I wish to thank my
colleague, Professor William W. Bratton, for his comments on an earlier draft of this essay.
This essay is dedicated to Professor Drucilla Cornell.
I Derrida, Force of Law: The Mystical Foundation of Authority, 11 CARDOZO L. REV.
919 (1990).
2 Id. at 951-53.
3 Id.. at 953.
4 Id. at 951.
5 See, e.g., P. SINGER, ANIMAL LIBERATION 25-94 (2d ed. 1990).
6 Id. at 95-157.
7 See, e.g., Regan, Vacant Vaults, in 2 THE ANIMALS' VOICE 24-32 (1989). Animals used


What Is HeinOnline?

HeinOnline is a subscription-based resource containing thousands of academic and legal journals from inception; complete coverage of government documents such as U.S. Statutes at Large, U.S. Code, Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations, U.S. Reports, and much more. Documents are image-based, fully searchable PDFs with the authority of print combined with the accessibility of a user-friendly and powerful database. For more information, request a quote or trial for your organization below.

Short-term subscription options include 24 hours, 48 hours, or 1 week to HeinOnline.

Contact us for annual subscription options:

Already a HeinOnline Subscriber?

profiles profiles most