- The Ethical Case Against Animal Experiments ed. by Andrew Linzey and Clair Linzey
There are two quite different parts to this book. The first part is a long essay by the editors of the book titled "Normalizing the Unthinkable." It is a report of the current views of various fellows at the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics on the topic of animal experimentation; it prepares the way for these views by detailing the history of antivivisection at Oxford University. The second part of the book consists of 11 essays by different fellows at the Oxford Centre on various topics associated with the topic of animal experimentation. The book is intended for a wide range of readers (undergraduates, graduate students, scholars, informed laypersons) from various disciplines who are interested in the topic of animal experimentation.
This manuscript makes a truly significant contribution to the field. Scientists in the field, both those who are opposed to painful or lethal animal experimentation and those who are not, are not typically exposed to sophisticated versions of philosophical and other arguments against animal experimentation, and philosophers and others in the humanities are often not exposed to the best and current information regarding what goes on in laboratories. This volume provides a valuable service to all parties involved.
The scholarship is sound. The first part of the book is very carefully researched by the Linzeys, both in terms of the history of antivivisection at Oxford and in terms of the contemporary debate regarding animal experimentation. There is nothing idiosyncratic about taking Oxford as a test case in that the historical debate there acts as a microcosm for the debate elsewhere. This first part of the book is not like anything else in the literature in that it traces the history of opposition to animal experimentation (especially 19th-century opposition at Oxford) until the present and it shows how this historical debate frames and informs contemporary thinking about animal experimentation.
Also in the first part of the book are detailed treatments of the scale of animal experimentation worldwide, scientific critiques of the opponents to animal experimentation, the changing ethical landscape regarding animal ethics, the nature of animal experimentation as an institutional phenomenon, the failure of control or oversight agencies, and the results of undercover investigations regarding what really occurs in animal experimentation laboratories. The counterarguments by defenders of animal experimentation are examined carefully in a lively dialectical exchange.
The various essays in the second part of the book are also well researched and involve careful argumentation. Some of these essays offer original perspectives [End Page 226] that shed new light on the topic at hand. Because the book is very well organized, there is a clear demarcation between the first and second parts of the work, so the reader is never confused regarding where one is at and where the various arguments in the second part are moving. The second part includes essays on animal experimentation in the ancient world, the issue of gender and animal experimentation, the usefulness of considering science fiction in relation to animal experimentation, the concept of alleged "necessity" in animal experimentation, utilitarian ethics and animal experimentation, social contract theory and animal experimentation, the (in)famous Harry Harlow experiments, and so forth. This wide range of essays enables the reader to see the subject matter in question from a variety of views, a reticulative vision that in itself can be liberating.
I would like to concentrate on two of the essays in the second part of the book so as to both provide historical depth to the debate and highlight one contemporary way to argue against animal experimentation.
In Simon Pulleyn's essay, "Animal Experimentation in Classical Antiquity," the author details how, in the Hippocratic Oath, "surgery," in general, was seen as an inferior sort of medicine, which would seem to bode well for animals. And Aristotle, despite the fact that he was the son of a doctor, and despite the fact that he defended meat-eating, shows no...