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Of Mice and Men: Reflexiones sobre la ética de la experimentación animal


AUTHOR: Lluis Ferrer, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
TITLE: Of Mice and Men: reflexiones sobre la ética de la experimentación animal

PUBLICATION PLACE: Revista de la Sociedad Española de Ciencias del Animal de Laboratorio (SECAL)

Reproduced with express authorization of the author in: dA web Center, February 2010


This essay argues that research on animals is necessary for the unhindered advancement of medical knowledge, but at the same time it recognises the moral dilemma of inflicting suffering on some beings for the benefit of others who are, in essence, very similar to them physically and mentally. The likeness, for which there is increasing scientific evidence, is rejected by many in order not to have bad conscience over the extensive use and abuse of animals in society. Such deeply rooted denial has been woven into most legal and religious traditions, which regard animals as things. This conception of animals is becoming increasingly implausible, and our poor treatment of them decreasingly justifiable, in the light of the amounting evidence regarding the existence and nature of their feelings and rationality. Medical research is a special case, however, because of the important benefits it provides, which many animal advocates are ready to admit. Nevertheless, a portion of society is against medical research on animals while still wanting to benefit from the medical advances. Such inconsistent attitudes may be due, on one hand, to the fact that people generally do not understand science, and on the other, to the impact of campaigns that selectively use very graphic examples of experiments. In this context the author proposes a set of recommendations for carrying out medical research on animals emphasising transparency, openness, recognition of the moral dilemma and participation in the debate it gives rise to, always keeping sight on the goal of minimising suffering.

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