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THE USE OF ANIMALS IN MEDICAL RESEARCHSOME ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS CATHERINE ROBERTS* I. Introduction During the six thousand years ofman's civilized state his relationship to the higher animals which make up a part of his living environment has become increasingly diversified. The necessity of satisfying his primary demands for sustenance has compelled him to hunt down the wild animals within his reach, to domesticate many ofthem, and to breed new types for his special uses, besides employing them in hunting and war, for labor and transport, and as guards and companions. Animals have also long been used in sport, and in ancient Rome horse exhibitions and chariot races drew enthusiastic crowds to the circus, from which the modern animal circus, originating in the eighteenth century, derives its name. Likewise, the gladiatorial spectacles ofthe ancient world necessitated the capture and transport ofwildanimals fromremote and often difficultly accessible areas. The practice ofkeeping both endemic and exotic animals in captivity for man's amusement and edification apparently arose de novo on more than one occasion, for a Chinese emperor of the twelfth century B.c. and an English king ofthe twelfth century a.D. each had his own zoological garden , and Prescott reports that in the fifteenth century Nezahualcoyotl possessed a zoo in Tezcuco. The intellectual curiosity which animals have aroused in man has also resulted in their having been described and illustrated for more than two thousand years, as well as grouped and classified according to their external appearance. Internally, they are known to have been studied as far back as the time ofAristotle, and Singer [i] stated that in the third century b.c., animal dissections were practiced also by Greek anatomists in Alexandria. Four hundred years later the anatomy and physi- * Address: Lyngbakkevej, Holte, Denmark. 106 Catherine Roberts · The Use ofAnimals in Medical Research Perspectives in Biology and Medicine · Autumn 1964 ology ofthe Barbary ape were extensively studied by Galen, the physician ofMarcus Aurelius. In the thousand years which followed there is little record ofthis relationship ofman to animals, but in the fourteenth century the anatomist Mondino dissected pigs and dogs at Bologna, and one important contribution of the sixteenth century was Leonardo da Vinci's work as a comparative anatomist. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries comparative anatomy flourished in many European centers concurrently with the rise ofmodern experimental science. Thereby was initiated a new era in man's relationship to the higher animals: he began to use them in ever increasing numbers as experimental objects ofscientific research. Of considerable historical interest are some figures on the number of animals which were annually employed in physiological and pathological experiments in England and Scotland halfa century ago; the figures are no less interesting because ofthe license or certificate which was then required for every animal experiment performed. In 1909, for example, 86,277 lim áis were employed, ofwhich the great majority were rats, mice, rabbits, and guinea pigs, for at that time dogs, cats, and monkeys were used much less frequently than today. In 1909 scientific research in the sense ofthe organization and tempo by which it is now characterized had scarcely got under way. Today the number ofanimals annually employed in experiments by scientists throughout the world can only be guessed at. The benefits to the health ofmankind resulting from all this scientific activity are so well known that they need not be enumerated, and certainly not in a biological and medicaljournal. Nor is it my purpose to do so. My purpose is rather to show that present progress in biological and medical research is often dependent upon means which are retarding the realization ofhuman potentialities and thereby doing mankind more harm than good. To develop this point of view, it is first necessary to turn to a recent phenomenon which has been contemporaneous with the period of most rapid progress ofmedical research and which bears directly upon it: man's growing sensitivity to the infliction of pain and suffering. For this is a phenomenon with which modern science has not yet come to terms. The humaneness ofmedical science has always expressed itselfin an unquestioning and immediate desire to prevent or alleviate human suffering, regardless ofwhether it is inflicted...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-8795
Print ISSN
0031-5982
Pages
pp. 106-120
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-07
Open Access
No
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