Animal experimentation has made a crucial contribution to many of the most important advances in modern medicine. The development of vaccines for deadly viruses like rabies and yellow fever depended upon animal research, and much of our basic knowledge about human health and physiology was discovered through the use of animals as well. Inspite of these gains, animal rights activists have been zealous in communicating to the public and policymakers their view that the use of animals in medical research is morally wrong and should be severely curtailed or eliminated. The activists' arguments draw upon a range of disciplines and focus on both practical and ethical aspects of animal experimentation.
Advocates of animal experimentation have been slow to respond to these arguments. Given that the worldwide toll of communicable diseases is still immense--and that deadly new pathogens may emerge at any time in the future to menace human health--failing to defend animal experimentation from the arguments of its opponents has disastrous implications. A quick response to an unanticipated threat on the order of the AIDS epidemic is unimaginable absent a vigorous research establishment, which in turn is dependent on animal proxies. Why Animal Experimentation Matters is a first attempt by research scientists and moral philosophers to mount a convincing defense against animal rights enthusiasts. Because opponents of animal experimentation come from a variety of intellectual backgrounds, this defense is necessarily interdisciplinary as well. In this collection of eight essays, the authors scrutinize how animal experimentation actually functions in the laboratory, the vital role that it plays in palliating and eradicating human and animal diseases, and the moral justification for sacrificing animals for the betterment of human life.
The subjects covered in the essays include the moral status of animals and persons, the importance of animals for advancing scientific knowledge, the history of animal experimentation (and of its detractors), differing theoretical approaches of American and European animal-experimentation regulations, the heavily restrictive legislation promoted by animal rights activists, and the threats posed to research and researchers by violent animal rights zealots. Contributors include Baruch Brody, H. Tristram Englehardt, Jr., R. G. Frey, Kenneth F. Kiple and Kriemhild Coneb Ornelas, Adrian R. Morrison, Charles S. Nicoll and Sharon M. Russell, Jerrold Tannenbaum, and Stuart M. Zola. This important anthology will be of interest to scientists, philosophers, individuals suffering from heritable or communicable diseases, relatives of afflicted individuals, and policymakers.