The Ethics of Animal Experimentation: A Critical Analysis and Constructive Christian Proposal

The Ethics of Animal Experimentation: A Critical Analysis and Constructive Christian Proposal

The Ethics of Animal Experimentation: A Critical Analysis and Constructive Christian Proposal

The Ethics of Animal Experimentation: A Critical Analysis and Constructive Christian Proposal

Synopsis

The ethical treatment of animals has become an issue of serious moral concern. Many people are challenging long-held assumptions about animals and raising questions about their status and treatment. What is the relationship between humans and animals? Do animals have moral standing? Do wehave direct or indirect duties to animals? Does human benefit always outweigh animal suffering? The use of animals for experimentation raises all of these questions in a particularly insistent way. Donna Yarri gives an overview of the current state of the discussion, and presents an argument forsignificantly restricted animal experimentation. Pointing to the similarities between humans and animals, she argues that the actual differences are differences of degree rather than kind. Animal cognition and animal sentiency together are the basis for the claim that experimental animals do haverights. Examining arguments in the disciplines of ethology, philosophy, science, and theology, Yarri makes a case for placing substantial restrictions on animal experimentation. Grounding her examination in Christian theology, she formulates a more humane approach to animal experimentation. Sheconcludes with a concrete burden-benefit analysis that can serve as the foundation for informed decision-making. The Ethics of Animal Experimentation serves as both a handbook of animal rights theory and a practical guide to navigating the complexities of animal experimentation. As animalexperimentation features in an increasing number of scientific endeavors, it is an ethical issue that requires our immediate attention. Yarri's unique contribution forges a path toward an ethical practice of animal experimentation.

Excerpt

Both the practice of animal experimentation and ethical concerns about it have a long history going virtually back to the ancient Greek period. While the discussion of ethics has waxed and waned throughout the years, animal experimentation has continued unabated and has in fact significantly increased in use since the middle of the twentieth century. The voices raising concerns about animal experimentation for most of human history have come from animal advocacy groups and interested individuals, but the publication in 1975 of Peter Singer’s book Animal Liberation moved the discussion into the scholarly realm. Scholars interested in the treatment of animals now are able to marshal sound philosophical, scientific, and theological arguments to present and bolster their views. While many more animals are raised for food than are used in experimentation, the latter has garnered most of the discussion because it so dramatically pits the interests of humans and animals against each other in matters of life, death, and health.

Many good works have been written on the topic of animal experimentation, and so one could rightly ask why another book is needed. A straightforward answer to this question is that not only is animal experimentation not likely to abate in the near future but also the numbers of animals used are likely to increase as technology pushes us in new directions. Issues such as using animals as organ donors, transplanting genes from one species of animal into another, and using animals to study additional genetic topics in light of the advent and completion of the mapping of the human genetic code ensure that animal experimentation will be with us for a long time to come. Thus, concerns about the treatment of experimental animals seem especially important, current, and, of course, contro-

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