Michael Allen Fox


Michael Allen Fox (born 7 May 1940) is an American/Canadian/Australian philosopher who was based at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario from 1966 until his retirement in 2005.


  • Humans are currently the dominant species on earth and exercise a great deal of power and control over nature. But very few believe might makes right, so the fact that we have greater power cannot enter into a justification of our use and treatment of animals. Rather, where other beings are under our power, we should feel obligated to show self-restraint and to act out of mercy and compassion. We cannot avoid causing harm to other beings in the process of living our own lives. Nor does morality consist in trying to be perfect and pure. But we can adopt an orientation toward minimizing the amount of harm we cause and taking full responsibility for it, seeing it for what it is. To justify animal experimentation is to start at one end of a continuum. Much of what we do will be morally acceptable (in our eyes), and we will chip away at the extremity where what we do shades into cruelty. I no longer believe that a general moral justification of animal experimentation can be given.
  • Unless we can trace our lineage to the original humans and find that we live where they lived, we are all international migrants. Furthermore, we are all wanderers. We symbolically carry our homes on our backs, like turtles, snails, and crustaceans—for the meanings and associations of home are always with us and affect our orientation in space and time, and how we negotiate our way through the world.

Deep Vegetarianism (1999)

Temple University Press. On Google Books.
  • For those who take the vegetarian option seriously and adopt it as their own, it may well connect with their spiritual or religious orientation, even their sense of meaning and purpose in life. Some might see these as grandiose claims, but the point is that vegetarianism sheds light upon, and is in turn reflected by, our philosophical outlook on ourselves, our world, and our place in it.
    • p. 181
  • Vegetarianism, rather than being confining, is liberating as it frees us from the exploitation of animals, the domination of nature, and the oppression of one another, and frees us to discover ourselves in more positive, life-affirming ways.
    • p. 183
  • It is easy to feel that one's personal efforts are insignificant—a mere drop in the bucket—in the face of large-scale injustices or social ills that cry out for a remedy. But to begin, if any practice—such as meat-eating—is wrong, then it is right for each of us not to engage in it, even if this does not by itself change the world. We are better in ourselves for making this decision. We must also remember that every revolutionary social movement begins with a dedicated few who push it forward and act as the surrogate conscience of others, helping them gain a greater awareness and acquire the courage of new convictions.
    • p. 183
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