Gary Francione is known for his work on animal rights theory, and was the first academic to teach it in an American law school. He is the founder of The Abolitionist Approach.
His work has focused on three issues:
- the property status of animals
- the differences between animal rights and animal welfare
- a theory of animal rights based on sentience alone, rather than on any particular characteristics
He is a pioneer of the abolitionist theory of animal rights, arguing that animal welfare regulation is theoretically and practically unsound, serving only to prolong the status of animals as property by making the public feel comfortable about using them. He argues that non-human animals require only one right: the right not to be regarded as property, and that the moral baseline of the abolitionist approach is veganism, the rejection of the use of all animal products.
Francione accepts the tenets of Jainism, and particularly the Jain doctrine of non-violence, or Ahimsa, linking it to veganism and animal rights. It is this belief in non-violence that makes him non-supportive of violent protest. Francione believes that animal rights can and should be achieved through non-violent direct action alone.
Francione is the author of Animals as Persons: Essays on the Abolition of Animal Exploitation (2008); Introduction to Animal Rights: Your Child or the Dog? (2000); Animals, Property, and the Law (1995); Rain Without Thunder: The Ideology of the Animal Rights Movement (1996); and, with Anna E. Charlton, Vivisection and Dissection in the Classroom: A Guide to Conscientious Objection (1992). He has also written papers on copyright, patent law, and law and science.