Friday, March 24, 2006

Animal experiments: ethical vs medical arguments

We often read, in forum discussions (eg the Oxford Gossip), that some-one without medical expertise cannot make statements on animal experimentation.

So, by the same token, we cannot condemn experiments on humans performed in Nazi camps, or any other tests carried out on humans, for that matter. I remember Paola Cavalieri once saying to me: “Do we need medical knowledge to say that we are not allowed to experiment, say, on the Chinese?” or something to that effect.

The obvious problem here is that the two questions, the ethical and the medical, have been confused.

The effect of stressing the medical/scientfic aspect of animal research (its lack of reliability, being bad science etc) created by Hans Ruesch, a great anti-vivisection writer but albeit one who only covered one aspect of the issue, is that now there is an assumption that who opposes animal experiments takes an epistemological stance on its own or in addition to a moral one.

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