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PERSPECTIVES IN BIOLOGY AND MEDICINE Volume 27 ¦ Number 1 ¦ Autumn 1983 ANIMAL RESEARCH—FOR AND AGAINST: A PHILOSOPHICAL, SOCIAL, AND HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE ANDREW N. ROWAN* and BERNARD E. ROLLINI The last 3 decades have witnessed major challenges, both theoretical and practical, to the traditional dogma that science is value neutral. On the theoretical side, these challenges have issued from a variety of sources, most notably the work of Kuhn [1] and Feyerabend [2] in the philosophy of science, but also from reasoned critiques of individual sciences by such thinkers as Szasz [3] and Chomsky [4]. The practical sources ofskepticism about value-free science are well-known—research into nuclear energy, recombinant DNA studies, research on human subjects and on the nature ofintelligence, and space exploration have all been severely criticized as fundamentally fraught with questionable value assumptions. Perhaps the most far-reaching of these concerns in terms of its potential effect on science as it is now conducted is the question of the morality of using animals in scientific research. The issue is as old as biological research itself and has surfaced many times in the history of science. Most often, it has appeared as an emotionally based antivivisectionism, typically espoused by people unsophisticated in the sciences and often given to lurid exaggeration and distortion. Recently, however, the question has been raised on a much more rational basis and increasingly by people who are not only scientifically knowledgeable but are often themselves scientists who offer constructive * Assistant Dean for New Programs, School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, 203 Harrison Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02111. t Department of Philosophy, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523.© 1983 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved. 003 1-5982/84/2701-0371$01 .00 Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 27, 1 · Autumn 1983 | 1 alternatives to current practice. Increasing public concern with the issue is dramatically evidenced by the fact that six bills dealing with laboratory animals have been introduced in Congress over the past 2 years. Various issues surrounding the moral status of laboratory animals have been the subject of numerous scientific seminars, articles, and conferences, and professional scientific organizations have established committees and subgroups to investigate the issues. Although no legislation has yet been passed, some significant changes have already taken place as a result of increased awareness of the issues involved. These include more careful monitoring of research projects in terms of animal welfare by university project review committees, the establishment of guidelines by some major scientificjournals for acceptable use of animals, and the admission by important elements in the scientific community that significant reforms are needed. This in turn has led to increasing dialogue between researchers and those whose primary concern is the welfare of animals. A growing number of individuals from both interest groups are seeking pragmatic solutions that attempt to maximize both the welfare of animals and the possibility of scientific research. In what follows, we shall survey the historical background ofthe controversy concerning the use ofanimals in research, the major issues of concern in this area, the main reforms which have been suggested, and possible future trends for this issue in the United States. Historical Background ofAnimal Research The first recorded use of live animals for research appears to be the study of body humors by Erasistratus in Alexandria in the third century b.c. [5]. However, it was Galen of Pergamum, in the second century a.D., who brought animal research into its own, not only for his contemporaries , but also for the next 13 centuries. Galen recognized that the arteries contained blood and not merely air, stressed the value of anatomy, and was the founder of experimental physiology. Since dissection of the human body was illegal in Rome at the time, he based his knowledge on observations of apes and pigs. Thirteen centuries later, the Renaissance brought a desire for discovery and for new ideas. Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564) at Padua challenged some of Galen's findings and laid the foundation of modern anatomy. He experimented on animals, as did many of his contemporaries [6]. Francis Bacon (1561-1626) also argued the value of animal experimentation in his De Augmentis Scientarum (The advancement of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-8795
Print ISSN
0031-5982
Pages
pp. 1-17
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-07
Open Access
No
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