Currently there is an unprecedented interest in ethological studies of nonhuman animals. Much of this interest is motivated by a desire to learn more about animals themselves. For scientists assuming this stance, a secondary goal is to use this knowledge to assess the place of humans in the natural order of things, stressing continuity or discontinuity depending on one's views. Others, however, study animals primarily to apply this knowledge to human behavior. We argue that behavioral research demands the rigorous application of methods that are minimally harmful to the animals being studied. We argue for a moderate, but rigorous and uncompromising, position on issues of animal welfare. A number of areas that in our opinion require careful scrutiny before research should be permitted are identified. It is a privilege to study nonhumans even in what seem to be noninterventive situations, and we should reflect on what we are doing by empathizing with the animals that are being studied. From this point of view, ethological interests and philosophical concerns with morality, mind, and science complement one another. Thus, ethology and philosophy should inform one another with respect to the way in which animals are studied, and how data are analyzed, applied, and disseminated.
Bekoff, M., & Jamieson, D. (1991). Reflective ethology, applied philosophy, and the moral status of animals. Perspectives in ethology (USA).