Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1980

Abstract

The very title of this talk makes a suggestion which must be forestalled, namely the idea that laboratory and food animals enjoy some exceptional moral status by virtue of the fact that we use them. In fact, it is extremely difficult to find any morally relevant grounds for distinguishing between food and laboratory animals and other animals and, far more dramatically, between animals and humans. The same conditions which require that we apply moral categories to humans rationally require that we apply them to animals as well. While it is obviously pragmatically impossible in our current sociocultural setting to expect that animals should be so treated, this idea should be kept before us as a moral ideal toward which to strive. In this vein, it seems morally necessary that the use of animals in research be constrained by two principles, which ought to be codified as law: the utilitarian principle and the rights principle. It might be thought that such constraints would serve as an intolerable burden to researchers, but such a worry is primarily based upon a faulty understanding of the nature of science which can be refuted by an examination of the history of science.