The Ethics of Animal Research

The Ethics of Animal Research: Exploring the Controversy

Edited by Jeremy R. Garrett
Series: Basic Bioethics
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 356
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  • Book Info
    The Ethics of Animal Research
    Book Description:

    An estimated 100 million nonhuman vertebrates worldwide--including primates, dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, birds, rats, and mice--are bred, captured, or otherwise acquired every year for research purposes. Much of this research is seriously detrimental to the welfare of these animals, causing pain, distress, injury, or death. This book explores the ethical controversies that have arisen over animal research, examining closely the complex scientific, philosophical, moral, and legal issues involved. Defenders of animal research face a twofold challenge: they must make a compelling case for the unique benefits offered by animal research; and they must provide a rationale for why these benefits justify treating animal subjects in ways that would be unacceptable for human subjects. This challenge is at the heart of the book. Some contributors argue that it can be met fairly easily; others argue that it can never be met; still others argue that it can sometimes be met, although not necessarily easily. Their essays consider how moral theory can be brought to bear on the practical ethical questions raised by animal research, examine the new challenges raised by the emerging possibilities of biotechnology, and consider how to achieve a more productive dialogue on this polarizing subject. The book's careful blending of theoretical and practical considerations and its balanced arguments make it valuable for instructors as well as for scholars and practitioners.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-30160-2
    Subjects: Health Sciences, Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Series Foreword
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Arthur Caplan

    Glenn McGee and I developed the Basic Bioethics series and collaborated as series coeditors from 1998 to 2008. In fall 2008 and spring 2009 the series was reconstituted, with a new editorial board, under my sole editorship. I am pleased to present the thirty-first book in the series.

    The Basic Bioethics series makes innovative works in bioethics available to a broad audience and introduces seminal scholarly manuscripts, state-of-the-art reference works, and textbooks. Topics include the philosophy of medicine, advancing genetics and biotechnology, end-of-life care, health and social policy, and the empirical study of biomedical life. Interdisciplinary work is encouraged....

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. List of Contributors
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. 1 The Ethics of Animal Research: An Overview of the Debate
    (pp. 1-16)
    Jeremy R. Garrett

    The practice of animal research is at once familiar and strange. On the one hand, almost everyone knows that it is a regular and widespread part of modern scientific and medical research. Indeed, the idea of being a “lab rat” or “guinea pig” is frequently invoked and readily understood in contemporary discourse. On the other hand, the vast majority of animal research is conducted outside public view. Aside from oversight committees, government regulatory agencies, and research personnel, very few people will ever have first-hand exposure to what occurs in animal research laboratories. For most people, “access” is limited to two...

  7. I Animal Research:: Ethical and Scientific Starting Points
    • 2 Ethics and Animal Research
      (pp. 19-30)
      Bernard E. Rollin

      Historically, at least in the United States, animal research was not perceived as an ethical issue by the research community. Indeed, anyone raising questions about animal research tended to be stigmatized as an anti-vivisectionist; a misanthrope preferring animals to people; an ingrate not valuing the contributions of biomedical science to human health and well-being. In fact, I personally received a full barrage of such charges when I was working to draft and promote through Congress what in 1985 became U.S. federal law protecting laboratory animals. In a 1982New England Journal of Medicinereview of my book arguing for elevating...

    • 3 The Evolutionary Basis for Animal Research
      (pp. 31-50)
      Stephen P. Schiffer

      The issue of using animals for research has been debated for centuries and continues today. The general public in the United States supports the use of animals in biomedical research, but this support is conditioned upon regulatory oversight to ensure the humane care of the animals. Appreciating this social ambivalence, the question that is rarely asked is why does the general public support this type of research? What explains this social acceptance in our Western culture of using animals for research designed to better humankind? What is the source of the general intuition that animal research is beneficial to humankind?...

  8. II Bringing Moral Theory to Bear on Animal Research
    • 4 Defending Animal Research: An International Perspective
      (pp. 53-66)
      Baruch A. Brody

      In a recent article, “The Ethics of Animal Research,” philosopher David DeGrazia (1999) asks the very important question of whether or not there is room for at least some agreement between “biomedicine” and “animal advocates” on the issue of animal research. This is an important question, but one on which we are unlikely to make any progress until the contents of both positions are clearly understood. This chapter is devoted to better articulating the position which supports animal research, the position that DeGrazia labels the “biomedicine” position; I leave the analysis of the animal-advocacy position for other occasions.

      My reason...

    • 5 Animal Experimentation, Marginal Cases, and the Significance of Suffering
      (pp. 67-80)
      Alastair Norcross

      Consider the fictional case of Carl. Carl receives a visit from the police one day, who have been alerted by Carl’s neighbors that something fishy is going on in Carl’s basement. They have heard what sounds like the whimpering of a human child coming from the basement, but, as far as they know, Carl lives alone. On descending to the basement, the police discover a child in a cage. The child appears to be about five years old, and in some distress. Carl explains to the police that the child is physically unharmed, but pretty miserable. He periodically removes the...

    • 6 Lives in the Balance: Utilitarianism and Animal Research
      (pp. 81-106)
      Robert Bass

      In the long history of moral theory, nonhuman animals—hereafter, justanimals—have often been neglected entirely or have been relegated to some secondary status.¹ Since its emergence in the early nineteenth century, utilitarianism has made a difference by focusing on happiness or well-being (and their contraries) rather than on the beings who fare well or suffer. Inevitably, that has meant that human relations to and use of other animals have appeared in a different light. Some cases have seemed easy: once admit that the interests of animals matter and there can be little hesitation in condemning their cruel treatment....

    • 7 Empty Cages: Animal Rights and Vivisection
      (pp. 107-124)
      Tom Regan

      Animals are used in laboratories for three main purposes: education, product safety testing, and experimentation, in medical research in particular. Unless otherwise indicated, my discussion is limited to their use in harmful, nontherapeutic medical research (which, for simplicity, I sometimes refer to as “vivisection”). Experimentation of this kind differs from therapeutic experimentation, where the intention is to benefit the subjects on whom the experiments are conducted. In harmful, nontherapeutic experimentation, by contrast, subjects are harmed, often seriously, or put at risk of serious harm, in the absence of any intended benefit for them; instead, the intention is to obtain information...

    • 8 Virtue, Vice, and Vivisection
      (pp. 125-146)
      Garret Merriam

      Utilitarianism and rights theory have dominated the literature on animal ethics. With regard to the question of animal experimentation each of these views suffers from a vice of excess (in the case of utilitarianism) or deficiency (in the case of rights theory). According to utilitarianism,¹ on the one hand, all that is required for an act or program of animal research to be justified is that a greater overall utility result in the long run than any alternative action available. Animals could be subject to the most inhumane torture, provided that torture yields mascara that is marginally enjoyed by a...

    • 9 Contractarianism, Animals, and Risk
      (pp. 147-166)
      Mark Rowlands

      According tocontractarianismorcontractualism, the legitimacy of moral and political rules and systems must ultimately be grounded in the existence of a hypothetical contract, to which rational, self-interested agents would assent if they were made familiar with its conditions. It is generally thought that contractarian approaches of this sort provide a problem for defenders of the moral claims of nonhuman animals (henceforth “animals”): such approaches, it is widely assumed, preclude these claims. Carruthers’s comments, for example, are entirely typical:

      Morality is here [i.e., according to the contractarian approach] pictured as a system of rules to govern the interaction of...

  9. III The Ethics of Animal Research in the New Era of Biotechnology
    • 10 Ethical Issues Concerning Transgenic Animals in Biomedical Research
      (pp. 169-180)
      David B. Resnik

      There are two basic arguments against using nonhuman animals in biomedical research: a moral argument and a scientific one. According to the moral argument, we should not use animals in biomedical research because the value of the knowledge gained from animal experimentation does not justify the harm inflicted on animals (Singer 1990) or because animal have rights that are violated when we experiment upon them (Regan 1983). This chapter will not address the moral arguments against using animals in biomedical research, as these are addressed elsewhere in this book. Instead, I will assume that some types of animal research are...

    • 11 Casuistry and the Moral Continuum: Evaluating Animal Biotechnology
      (pp. 181-194)
      Autumn Fiester

      The science of animal biotechnology is progressing very rapidly, as seen in projects ranging from pet cloning to biopharming to xenotransplantation to the preservation of endangered species. While the science of animal biotechnology advances undeterred, the ethical discussion about the boundaries the public might want to set is at the most nascent stage. While some favor a blanket prohibition of animal biotechnology¹ that is unlikely to be imposed on the biotechnology industry, most others view this science as having a continuum of moral permissibility, with some projects seemingly justified and others not. But which of the animal cloning and transgenic...

  10. IV Making Progress in the Debate:: Alternative Paths Forward
    • 12 Debating the Value of Animal Research
      (pp. 197-214)
      Andrew Rowan

      For forty years after the World War II, the scientific community kept a low profile in the public debate over the use of laboratory animals. However, since 1985, biomedical research funders and institutions have developed a much more active and public profile supporting animal research. Despite this activity, public support for animal research has declined (figure 12.1) at a rate of about 2 percent a year and is even lower in some European countries.

      This chapter examines some of the issues that arise in attempts to evaluate the “value” and “costs” of animal research and discuss some of the criticisms...

    • 13 The Commonsense Case against Animal Experimentation
      (pp. 215-236)
      Mylan Engel Jr.

      As this volume illustrates, most arguments for the immorality of animal experimentation take one of two forms. Either they follow Peter Singer’s lead and maintain that most animal experiments are morally unjustifiable on utilitarian grounds;¹ or they follow Tom Regan’s deontological rights-based approach and insist that virtually all of the animals experimented on in research facilities around the country possess the very same properties that confer rights on humans, and therefore, experimenting on these animals is wrong because it violates their rights.² When confronted with Singer’s and Regan’s arguments opposing animal experimentation, proponents of animal experimentation tend to casually dismiss...

    • 14 Rational Engagement, Emotional Response, and the Prospects for Moral Progress in Animal Use “Debates”
      (pp. 237-266)
      Nathan Nobis

      Synopsis: A focus of this chapter is on how to evaluate reasons for and against moral positions.

      This chapter is designed to help people rationally engage moral issues regarding the treatment of animals, specifically in experimentation, research, product testing, and education.

      Little “new” philosophy is offered here, strictly speaking. New arguments are unnecessary to help make progress in how people think about these issues. Whatisneeded are improved abilities to engage the arguments already on the table, for example, stronger skills at identifying and evaluating the existing reasons given for and against conclusions on the morality of various uses...

    • 15 Animal Rights Advocacy and Modern Medicine: The Charge of Hypocrisy
      (pp. 267-292)
      Tom Regan

      Throughout the developed world, drugs that require a medical prescription¹ are tested on nonhuman animals before they become available on the market. In the United States, such tests are federally mandated and evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The process, from first exploration to final product, is both time consuming and expensive. On average, it takes twelve to fifteen years of research and testing before drugs find their way into the local pharmacy. Average cost for a new prescription medicine? $802 million (Greek and Greek 2004, 127).

      Why does it take so long and cost so much? First,...

    • 16 We’re All Animals: A Feminist Treatment of the Moral Limits of Nonhuman Animal Research
      (pp. 293-326)
      Christina M. Bellon

      We have come a long way since Descartes’ ill-considered attempt to ease his assistants’ dismay over the screaming of animals vivisected in his laboratory by telling them animals are nothing but machines. Rather than considering animals mere machines for their lack of a soul, and their screams merely “the sound of the machine winding down” (Grayling 2006, 158–161), today we give greater moral attention to the practice and regulation of animal experimentation.³

      As the quotation from Torrey exemplifies, the focus of the scientist is primarily on the problem to be solved, not the means by which it is to...

  11. Index
    (pp. 327-342)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 343-344)