How Animal "Rights" Activists Are Trashing Science

Jonathan Dale jdale at cats.ucsc.edu
Sat Jul 17 02:33:00 EST 1993


Well, I'm glad you posted this relevant and interesting talk that Franklin
gave.  But I'm sorry to see that it is the same typical emotional, 
grandstanding, empty type of argument that dominates all discussions about
animal research.  

I don't mean that the arguments in favor of animal research are all empty.
I mean the arguments on both side of the issue are empty, emotional,
flammatory rhetoric.  I long to hear some calm, reasonable, well-thought-out
arguments from either side.  In fact, though I disagree with Peter Singer,
who is one of the best known opponents of animal research (but who is NOT
an "animal rightist", having opposing philosophical basis for his views), he
is one of the more reasonable people in the debate, perhaps because he is
a philosopher and not a journalist.

There are some good arguments for animal research.  There are some good
arguments against it.  There are solid grounds for giving the issue some
reasonable thoughts.  Franklin doesn't want to think about the ethics.
He'd like to get rid of human subjects boards and regulations regarding the
treatment of animals (or it sure sounded like that).  I support animal
research, but I don't support giving anyone free reign to do research the
way they want.  There are ethical ramifications to animal research, and it is
a disservice to everyone to ignore them.

A useful pro-animal research speech would specifically address the 
ethical basis (there are several) of the anti-animal research movement
(which is NOT synonymous with the animal rights movement, because some people,
like Singer, oppose animal research but do not believe in animal rights; if
necessary I can cite Singer on this point).  There are vague points and
arguable points in the ethical basis that need to be attacked.  A useful
anti-animal research speech would lay out the ethical basis; this has been
done already.  Singer (and some others) is very good about it.  

Inflammatory rhetoric will get us nowhere.  We won't solve the conflicts by
yelling at each other louder.  Intelligent consideration of each others views,
intelligent analysis of each other's claims, and thoughtful communication
may not make us agree with each other, but it will help us reach acceptable
compromises and mutual understanding.

---Jonathan Dale
  (and of course I will be happy to post my own paper on the issue, 
   especially on relevant criteria for ethical consideration, if
   anyone is interested.  There are lots of interesting things to
   say about this issue without calling each other Nazis.)



More information about the Bioforum mailing list