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COMMENTARY ON "ANIMAL RESEARCH—FOR AND AGAINST: A PHILOSOPHICAL, SOCIAL, AND HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE" THEODORE COOPER andJACOB C. STUCKI* It is testimony to the complexity and maturation of modern society to read in the same day about the rights of nations, political dissidents, the economically disadvantaged, workers, ethnic minorities, women, the elderly , the young, the mentally retarded, the unborn, and animals used in research. While intelligent men and women no longer dispute that any of these groups have rights, there remains considerable difference of opinion about what the rights are in each circumstance. There has been a surge of attention to these rights. While each of the movements describes a somewhat different time course of evolution, it is of interest that they have a time frame in common—a period marked by significant increases in mobility of people, information, ideas, and technology. It is inevitable, then, that values will be challenged, goals redefined, and limits adjusted. It is also predictable that there will not be uniformity of opinion about what these values, goals, and limits should be. The moving forces for establishing new norms are also changing. Individuals or institutions of expertise or tradition are rarely sufficient nowadays to be regarded as moral authority. Public acceptance of a standard reached through the political process appears to have replaced moral values reached by philosophical disputation. Philosophers join interest groups, investigative reporters, and political strategists when events provide a focus for attention. Recent surges of concern for the rights and welfare of animals used in research show this genesis. The picture drawn by Rowan and Rollin in their article "Animal Research— For and Against: A Philosophical, Social, and Historical Perspective" supports this view. What is there to be "for" and what to be "against" in the use ofanimals in research? While there are individuals who aver that animals should * Upjohn Company, Kalamazoo, Michigan 49001.© 1983 by The University of Chicago. AU rights reserved. 0031-5982/84/2701-0366$01.00 18 I Theodore Cooper andJacob C. Stucki · Comment on "AnimalResearch" never be used and a few who hold that virtually any cost-effective experiment can and should be done on animals lower than man, people who must deal with current realities regularly come to a different presentation of the main issue, namely, under what conditions should research on animals be conducted? The construction is the same one which is generally applied to those human activities to which there must be limits but which have been accepted as necessary or desirable or practical, given the state of evolution of the character of human society and the state of knowledge. Examples of such activities are eating, sleeping, fighting, killing, loving, and defending. Viewing the animal research controversy from this approach may yield an additional perspective. Comparison with another issue that periodically captures the public attention may clarify further the importance of this perspective. Abortion has recently reemerged in the public consciousness—with considerable emotion. Surveys of U.S. public opinion which ask, "Are you for or against abortion?" yield an approximately 50-50 split. Proponents and adversaries ofabortion will erroneously tend to put great significance on surveys which show a small deviation from the even division ofopinion. However, surveys of public opinion which ask more penetrating questions dealing with circumstances under which abortion is acceptable are more informative. These surveys show that about 90 percent of the respondents approve of abortion under some circumstances. In other words, there are principles that can be applied to limit practices which in the absolute (or under ideal circumstances) should be avoided or prohibited but which, in the world as we know it, are the best available means for achieving a societal goal or value. We know of no scientists who experiment on animals for pleasure, even though they enjoy their work. The main purpose ofthe research is, by one pathway or another, to improve or protect the health of people. That is the goal of biomedical and behavioral research, toxicological studies, and agricultural research. A relatively high value is placed on health by modern human societies. How frequently we hear Disraeli quoted or paraphrased: "The health of the people is really the foundation upon which all their happiness...


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