Apologies, uncertainty and the 3Rs: Time to rethink our approach to making the case for animal research?

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Abstract

Contemporary society has great problems with the morality of animal research. It is rare to hear a positive case being made for animal research: instead, arguments rely on the importance of strict legislation controlling it and the aim to reduce, refine and replace it. This intrinsically apologetic approach belies a generalised uncertainty about the morality of using animals in scientific research and, more broadly, about the relative status of humans and animals.
To make a convincing case for animal research it is important to identify the moral differences between humans and animals: this article will argue that conscious human experience is probably a uniquely human attribute that emerges during the social development of young children and that animals are likely to have a qualitatively different way of experiencing the world. While not suggesting that wanton cruelty is justifiable - which would degrade us as humans - this suggests that we should not be uneasy about the instrumental use of animals.
To win public support in the future it is essential that arguments for animal research are not apologetic but present animal research as a positive part of the drive to expand knowledge to benefit human and animal populations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
JournalAnimal Technology and Welfare
Volume7
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2008

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