Introduction to "Working Across Species"

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Comparison between different animal species is omnipresent in the history of science and medicine but rarely subject to focussed historical analysis. The articles in the “Working Across Species” topical collection address this deficit by looking directly at the practical and epistemic work of cross-species comparison. Drawn from papers presented at a Wellcome-Trust-funded workshop in 2016, these papers investigate various ways that comparison has been made persuasive and successful, in multiple locations, by diverse disciplines, over the course of two centuries. They explore the many different animal features that have been considered to be (or else made) comparable, and the ways that animals have shaped science and medicine through the use of comparison. Authors demonstrate that comparison between species often transcended the range of practices typically employed with experimental animal models, where standardised practises and apparatus were applied to standardised bodies to produce generalizable, objective data; instead, comparison across species has often engaged diverse groups of non-standard species, made use of subjective inferences about phenomena that cannot be directly observed, and inspired analogies that linked physiological and behavioural characteristics with the apparent affective state of non-human animals. Moreover, such comparative practices have also provided unusually fruitful opportunities for collaborative connections between different research traditions and disciplines.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalHistory and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
Issue number2
Early online date24 Apr 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Apr 2018


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