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An Introduction to Animal Research Ethics

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1 An Introduction to Animal Research Ethics
Sam Garner, M. Bioethics

2 Macaque inhalation anthrax study
24 cynomolgus macaques exposed to anthrax. Macaques experienced: lethargy, diarrhea, fever, bacteremia, inappetance, vomiting, respiratory distress, pain. 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 pathology. Henning, Clinical and Vaccine Immunology, 2012

3 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

4 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 non- human animal.

5 The Nature of the Debate
One end: research with non-human animals is beneficial and critical to advancing biomedical science for human health and is therefore justified. The other end: Animals are owed utility-trumping strong rights and are not instruments of science.

6 Why Does This Matter? IOM Report: “Chimpanzees in Biomedical and Behavioral Research: Assessing the Necessity” Changing regulatory landscape abroad Public opinion Scientific community opinion polls Legal rights for chimps This is the biomedical paradigm

7 A Brief (Select) History of Ideas



10 Nuremberg Code and Declaration of Helsinki
Require animal experimentation before moving to humans.

11 Russell and Burch “The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique”
Introduced the 3 Rs— replacement, reduction and refinement.

12 Contemporary Philosophy

13 Animal Experimentation: Justification and Critique

14 The Justification Animal research is beneficial/useful/necessary and, therefore, justified.

15 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.

16 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 Consideration)

17 Equal Consideration (EC)
To consider the comparable interests of animals and humans with equal moral weight. Argument from marginal cases: if we have strong obligations to non-paradigm humans, then we must have similar obligations to non- humans with similar capacities. Strong rights (Regan) Utilitarianism (Singer)

18 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 contractarianism Carl Cohen ‘of a kind’ Social bondedness view (Midgely/Brody)

19 Questions 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 rights- based view)?

20 Recap: Case Study Do you think the inhalation anthrax macaque study was justifiable? If so, why? If not, why not?

21 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.

22 Thank you

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