An Introduction to Animal Research Ethics

An Introduction to Animal
Research Ethics
Sam Garner, M. Bioethics
[email protected]
Macaque inhalation anthrax
• 24 cynomolgus macaques exposed to anthrax.
• Macaques experienced: lethargy, diarrhea, fever,
bacteremia, inappetance, vomiting, respiratory distress,
• 10 of 12 animals in control group died w/o treatment
over the course of 4 days.
• All remaining animals were killed at the end of the study.
• Necropsy showed significant vascular and organ
Henning, Clinical and Vaccine Immunology, 2012
Where Are We Going?
• Things to note
• The nature of the debate
• Why does this matter?
• A brief history of ideas
• Justification of animal research and critique
• Case study
• Concluding remarks and discussion
Things to Note
• Bracket the science and focus on the ethics.
• Bracket other animal issues.
• Distinguish between blaming individuals and
thinking critically about a practice.
• I’ll use the term ‘animal’ as a shorthand for nonhuman animal.
The Nature of the Debate
Why Does This Matter?
IOM Report: “Chimpanzees in
Biomedical and Behavioral
Research: Assessing the
Changing regulatory landscape
Public opinion
Scientific community opinion
Legal rights for chimps
This is the biomedical paradigm
A Brief (Select) History
of Ideas
Nuremberg Code and
Declaration of Helsinki
• Require animal
experimentation before
moving to humans.
Russell and Burch
• “The Principles of Humane
Experimental Technique”
• Introduced the 3 Rs—
replacement, reduction and
Contemporary Philosophy
Animal Experimentation:
Justification and Critique
The Justification
• Animal research is beneficial/useful/necessary and,
therefore, justified.
Ethics and Moral Status
Ethics is centrally concerned with protecting and/or
promoting interests.
Moral status is to be morally considerable because you
matter in your own right. We have an obligation to
consider your interests.
How much do animals matter?
• Do they count just as much
as people? If so, why?
(Equal Consideration)
• Do they count for less? If
so, why? (Unequal
Equal Consideration (EC)
To consider the comparable
interests of animals and
humans with equal moral
Argument from marginal
cases: if we have strong
obligations to non-paradigm
humans, then we must have
similar obligations to nonhumans with similar
Strong rights (Regan)
Utilitarianism (Singer)
Unequal Consideration (UC)
• To consider the interests of
animals with less weight
because they are the
interests of animals.
• Argument from species
• Moral agency and
• Carl Cohen ‘of a kind’
• Social bondedness view
• If animals count for less, does that equate to weaker
prohibitions against harm? (A lesser harm is not
necessarily a justifiable harm).
If animals count for less, how beneficial to human health
must the science be? Would basic research be acceptable?
Or only some preclinical?
• Should there be limits to the amount of harm we can
cause animals (or risk thresholds)?
• How should we view animal research ethics in light of
our approach to human research ethics (more rightsbased view)?
Recap: Case Study
• Do you think the inhalation anthrax macaque study
was justifiable? If so, why? If not, why not?
Suggested Reading
• Carl Cohen and Tom Regan, The Animal Rights
Debate, 1999.
• David DeGrazia, Taking Animals Seriously, 1996.
• Jeremy Garrett, The Ethics of Animal Research:
Exploring the Controversy, 2012.
• Andrew Knight, The Costs and Benefits of Animal
Experiments, 2011.
• [email protected]
Thank you

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