Mark Rowlands argues that, contrary to the dominant view, a Rawlsian theory of justice can legitimately be applied to animals. One of the implications of doing so, Rowlands argues, is an end to animal experimentation. I will argue, contrary to Rowlands, that under a Rawlsian theory there may be some circumstances where it is justifiable to use animals as experimental test subjects (where the individual animals are benefited by the experiments).
It is sometimes said that simulation can serve as epistemic substitute for experimentation. Such a claim might be suggested by the fast-spreading use of computer simulation to investigate phenomena not accessible to experimentation (in astrophysics, ecology, economics, climatology, etc.). But what does that mean? The paper starts with a clarification of the terms of the issue and then focuses on two powerful arguments for the view that simulation and experimentation are ‘epistemically on a par’. One is based (...) on the claim that, in experimentation, no less than in simulation, it is not the system under study that is manipulated but a system that ‘stands-in’ for it. The other one highlights the pervasive use of models in experimentation. It will be argued that these arguments, as compelling as they might seem, are each based on a mistaken interpretation of experimentation and that, far from simulation and experimentation being epistemically on a par, they do not have the same epistemic function, do not produce the same kind of epistemic results. (shrink)
This book focuses on experimentation that is carried out on human beings, including medical research, drug research and research undertaken in the social sciences. It discusses the ethics of such experimentation and asks the question: who defends the interests of these human subjects and ensures that they are not harmed? The author finds that ethical research depends on the adequacy of review by committee. Indeed most countries now rely on research ethics committees for the protection of the interests (...) of the human participants in research. Dr McNeill analyses how successful these committees are in balancing the interests of science with the interests of human subjects. (shrink)
Millions of animals are used every year in oftentimes extremely painful and distressing scientific procedures. Legislation of animal experimentation in modern societies is based on the supposition that this is ethically acceptable when certain more or less defined formal (e.g. logistical, technical) demands and ethical principles are met. The main parameters in this context correspond to the “3Rs” concept as defined by Russel and Burch in 1959, i.e. that all efforts to replace, reduce and refine experiments must be undertaken. (...) The licensing of animal experiments normally requires an ethical evaluation process, oftentimes undertaken by ethics committees. The serious problems in putting this idea into practice include inter alia unclear conditions and standards for ethical decisions, insufficient management of experiments undertaken for specific (e.g. regulatory) purposes, and conflicts of interest of ethics committees’ members. (shrink)
L’expérimentation animale consiste à tester chez l›animal des questions que l›on se pose chez l’Homme. En recherches appliquées, ces expérimentations nous fournissent des données essentielles dans la lutte contre les maladies humaines ainsi qu’en médecine vétérinaire. Em recherches fondamentales, ces expérimentations qui permettent de mieux connaitre l’Homme et l’Animal nous montrent que le fossé que certains voient entre l’espèce humaine et les animaux n’a probablement pas l’importance qu’on lui donne. Ces recherches nous montrent que certains animaux ont quelquefois des capacités (...) cognitives telles qu’ils n’ont rien à envier aux hommes et que ces animaux sont des êtres sensibles capables de souffrir. Toutes ces recherches nous informent sur notre nature, nos relations avec l’animal et notre place dans le monde animal. Ce constat sur la nature et la proximité de l’Homme et de l’Animal a mené à la création des comités d’éthique. Nous avons besoin de ces animaux mais ils méritent notre respect et les expérimentations nécessaires doivent être faites en obéissant à une certaine éthique. Ces comités s’assurent que les expérimentations animales respectent les règles éthiques dont la plus connue est celle des « 3 R » (Remplacement, Réduction et Raffinement). (shrink)
This article provides a material enactment of educational theory to explore how we might do educational theory differently by defamiliarising the familiar. Theory is often assumed to be abstract, located solely in the realm of ideas and separate from practice. However, this view of theory emerges from a set of ontological and epistemological assumptions of separating meaning from matter that are taken to be foundational, when this need not be the case. Drawing upon what variously might be termed materialist, performative (...) or post-human positions, the article suggests that it is possible to re-enact theory as a matter-ing practice—of matter and meaning. The assumption of a separation that divides theory from practice is challenged in this article, which suggests that theory matters by being entangled with the material and that a separation of matter from meaning is an effect. This approach enacts things as matters of concern by contrast with the representation of objects as matters of fact. In this way, educational theory becomes a form of responsible experimentation rather than simply a representation of others. Some implications for education are outlined. (shrink)
The concept of vulnerability is deployed in bioethics to, amongst other things, identify and remedy harms to participants in research, yet although nonhuman animals in experimentation seem intuitively to be vulnerable, this concept and its attendant protections are rarely applied to research animals. I want to argue, however, that this concept is applicable to nonhuman animals and that a new taxonomy of vulnerability developed in the context of human bioethics can be applied to research animals. This taxonomy does useful (...) explanatory work, helping to pinpoint the limitations of the 3Rs/welfare approach currently adopted in the context of animal experimentation. On this account, the 3Rs/welfare approach fails to deliver for nonhuman animals in experimentation because it effectively addresses only one element of their vulnerability (inherent) and paradoxically through the institution of Animal Ethics Committees intended to protect experimental animals in fact generates new vulnerabilities that exacerbate their already precarious situation. (shrink)
Spectacular treatment disasters in recent years have made it clear that informal "let's-try-it-and-see" methods of testing new proposals are more risky now than ever before, and have led many to call for a halt to experimentation in clinical medicine. In this easy-tp-read, philosophical guide to human experimentation, William Silverman pleads for wider use of randomized clinical trials, citing many examples that show how careful trials can overturn preconceived or ill-conceived notions of a therapy's effectiveness and lead to a (...) clearer understanding of clinical anomalies. Because it gives careful guidance on setting up trials and avoiding conceptual pitfalls, this book will be of great interest to all epidemiologists and clinical statisticians, and to a wide varitey of clinicians, pharmacologists, and nurses. Since it requires no medical or statistical knowledge, it will also appeal to ethicists, lawyers, and the general public. (shrink)
This paper examines how experimental scientists choose theoretical frameworks as well as their experimental systems for doing research. I start out with Kuhn's claim that there are no (single) algorithms that could determine the choices made by individual scientists. Samir Okasha has recently provided an argument for this claim in terms of social choice theory, which I briefly discuss. Then, I show why this problem is not relevant in an experimental science. There are social mechanisms in place that make sure (...) the community chooses the best framework and a matching experimental system. As historical evidence for this claim, I present the case of classical genetics. (shrink)
Morrison points out many similarities between the roles of simulation models and other sorts of models in science. On the basis of these similarities she claims that running a simulation is epistemologically on a par with doing a traditional experiment and that the output of a simulation therefore counts as a measurement. I agree with her premises but reject the inference. The epistemological payoff of a traditional experiment is greater (or less) confidence in the fit between a model and a (...) target system. The source of this payoff is the existence of a causal interaction with the target system. A computer experiment, which does not go beyond the simulation system itself, lacks any such interaction. So computer experiments cannot confer any additional confidence in the fit (or lack thereof) between the simulation model and the target system. (shrink)
The theory of evolution has beenused in arguments regarding animalexperimentation. Two such arguments areanalyzed, one against and one in favor. Eachargument stresses the relevance of the theoryof evolution to normative ethics but attemptsexplicitly to avoid the so-called naturalisticfallacy.According to the argument against animalexperimentation, the theory of evolution`undermines' the idea of a special humandignity and supports `moral individualism'. Thelatter view implies that if it is wrong to usehumans in experiments, then it is also wrong touse animals, unless there are relevantdifferences between (...) them that justify adifference in treatment. No such differencescan be found with regard to animals which lead`biographical lives'.The argument in favor of animal experimentationis based on evolutionary psychology. It statesthat humans, as all social animals, arespeciesist by nature and stresses that thisshould be taken seriously in normative ethics.This does not mean that animal interests shouldnot be considered, only that vital humaninterests may outweigh them.In order to assess the arguments, one has totake a stand on certain more basic issues: `is'versus `ought', impartiality versus specialobligations, and feelings/intuitions versusreason. Given the author's own position withregard to these more basic considerations, theevolutionary argument in favor of animalexperimentation is judged to be more convincingthan the one against but not decisive. It isalso maintained that not all animal experimentsare acceptable. Which animal experiments areacceptable and which are not has to be decidedon a case-by-case basis. (shrink)
The paper presents an argument for treating certain types of computer simulation as having the same epistemic status as experimental measurement. While this may seem a rather counterintuitive view it becomes less so when one looks carefully at the role that models play in experimental activity, particularly measurement. I begin by discussing how models function as “measuring instruments” and go on to examine the ways in which simulation can be said to constitute an experimental activity. By focussing on the connections (...) between models and their various functions, simulation and experiment one can begin to see similarities in the practices associated with each type of activity. Establishing the connections between simulation and particular types of modelling strategies and highlighting the ways in which those strategies are essential features of experimentation allows us to clarify the contexts in which we can legitimately call computer simulation a form of experimental measurement. (shrink)
What is artificial life? Much has been said about this interesting collection of efforts to artificially simulate and synthesize lifelike behavior and processes, yet we are far from having a robust philosophical understanding of just what Alifers are doing and why it ought to interest philosophers of science, and philosophers of biology in particular. In this paper, I first provide three introductory examples from the particular subset of artificial life I focus on, known as ‘soft Alife’ (s-Alife), and follow up (...) with a more in-depth review of the Avida program, which serves as my case study of s-Alife. Next, I review three well-known accounts of thought experiments, and then offer my own synthesized account, to make the argument that s-Alife functions as thought experimentation in biology. I draw a comparison between the methodology of the thought-experimental world that yields real-world results, and the s-Alife research that informs our understanding of natural life. I conclude that the insights provided by s-Alife research have the potential to fundamentally alter our understanding of the nature of organic life and thus deserve the attention of both philosophers and natural scientists. (shrink)
In this paper, I address the issue of to what extent the theory-dominated view of scientific experimentation describes scientific practice. I rely on a time period from the history of High Energy Physics (HEP), which spans from early 1960s to early 1970s. I argue that theory-ladenness of experimentation (TLE), which grounds theory-dominated conception of experimentation is too coarse-grained inasmuch as it prevents us from seeing the correct relationship that exists between theorizing and experimenting in the scientific practice (...) of HEP. I articulate that in order to be able to get a better understanding of scientific practice, a revision needs to be made in the general conception of TLE. I propose that such a revision is possible if we abandon the commitment that experimentation is always driven by theory. I consider what I call “theory-drivenness” of experimentation (TDE) as a form of theory-ladenness, which amounts to the claim that experiments, from their initial design up to their final stage, are carried out under the framework of a prevailing theory for the purpose of providing definite answers to specific questions already posed by the same theory. I argue that electron-proton inelastic scattering experiments in HEP were firstly carried out without having any recourse to a phenomenological model. From here, I claim that these experiments are not theory-laden in the sense implied by TDE. On the other hand, I argue, inelastic scattering experiments are theory-laden due to the fact that the scientists who perform them are committed to background theories of HEP. That is, I admit the validity of TLE as a philosophical claim, but I attribute a weaker status to it as opposed to its general conception. That is, I propose to differentiate TDE from TLE by claiming that TLE does not entail TDE. (shrink)
: William James's "The Will to Believe" has been criticized for offering untenable arguments in support of belief in unvalidated hypotheses. Although James is no longer accused of suggesting we can create belief ex nihilo, critics continue to charge that James's defense of belief in what he called the "religious hypothesis" confuses belief with hypothesis adoption and endorses willful persistence in unvalidated beliefs—not, as he claimed, in pursuit of truth, but merely to avoid the emotional stress of abandoning them. I (...) argue that James's position in "The Will to Believe" can be defended provided we give up thinking of it as ethics of belief and think of it instead as an ethics of self-experimentation. Subjective data (including wants, needs, and desires) are relevant to rational consent to participation in research. (shrink)
Starting with some illustrative examples, I develop a systematic account of a specific type of experimentation--an experimentation which is not, as in the "standard view", driven by specific theories. It is typically practiced in periods in which no theory or--even more fundamentally--no conceptual framework is readily available. I call it exploratory experimentation and I explicate its systematic guidelines. From the historical examples I argue furthermore that exploratory experimentation may have an immense, but hitherto widely neglected, epistemic (...) significance. (shrink)
In this article, I argue that it is wrong to conduct any experiment on a nonhuman which we would regard as immoral were it to be conducted on a human, because such experimentation violates the basic moral rights of sentient beings. After distinguishing the rights approach from the utilitarian approach, I delineate basic concepts. I then raise the classic “argument from marginal cases” against those who support experimentation on nonhumans but not on humans. After next replying to six (...) important objections against that argument, I contend that moral agents are logically required to accord basic moral rights to every sentient being. I conclude by providing criteria for distinguishing ethical from unethical experimentation. (shrink)
My aim in this article is to introduce readers to the topic of exploratory experimentation and briefly explain how the three articles that follow, by Richard Burian, Kevin Elliott, and Maureen O'Malley, advance our understanding of the nature and significance of exploratory research. I suggest that the distinction between exploratory and theory-driven experimentation is multidimensional and that some of the dimensions are continuums. I point out that exploratory experiments are typically theory-informed even if they are not theory-driven. I (...) also distinguish between research programs and experiments. Research programs that are largely exploratory, such as the ones discussed in these case studies, can involve both exploratory and theory-driven experimentation. (shrink)
In Embryo: A Defense of Human Life (Doubleday, 2008), Robert P. George and Christopher Tollefsen argue that human embryo-destructive experimentation is morally wrong and should not be supported with state funds. I argue that their arguments fail.
This paper is devoted to an examination of the discovery, characterization, and analysis of the functions of microRNAs, which also serves as a vehicle for demonstrating the importance of exploratory experimentation in current (post-genomic) molecular biology. The material on microRNAs is important in its own right: it provides important insight into the extreme complexity of regulatory networks involving components made of DNA, RNA, and protein. These networks play a central role in regulating development of multicellular organisms and illustrate the (...) importance of epigenetic as well as genetic systems in evolution and development. The examination of these matters yields principled arguments for the historicity of the functions of key biological molecules and for the indispensability of exploratory experimentation in contemporary molecular biology as well as some insight into the complex interplay between exploratory experimentation and hypothesis-driven science. This latter result is not only important for philosophy of science, but also of practical importance for the evaluation of grant proposals, although the elaboration of this latter claim must be left for another occasion. (shrink)
This is the first re-publication and first English translation of regulations concerning Human Experimentation which were binding law prior to and during the Third Reich, 1931 to 1945. The introduction briefly describes the duties of the Reichsgesundheitsamt, which formulated these regulations. It then outlines the basic concept of the Richtlinien for protecting subjects and patients on the one hand and for encouraging New Therapy and Human Experimentation on the other hand. Major issues, like personal responsibility of the physician (...) or researcher, teaching of ethics of research and therapy, and research and therapy on vulnerable populations, are compared with the regulations in the Nuremberg Code and subsequent regulations influenced by the Nuremberg Code. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
There has been relatively little effort to provide a systematic overview of different forms of exploratory experimentation (EE). The present paper examines the growing subdiscipline of nanotoxicology and suggests that it illustrates at least four ways that researchers can engage in EE: searching for regularities; developing new techniques, simulation models, and instrumentation; collecting and analyzing large swaths of data using new experimental strategies (e.g., computer-based simulation and "high-throughput" instrumentation); and structuring an entire disciplinary field around exploratory research agendas. In (...) order to distinguish these and other activities more effectively, the paper proposes a taxonomy that includes three dimensions along which types of EE vary: (1) the aim of the experimental activity, (2) the role of theory in the activity, and (3) the methods or strategies employed for varying experimental parameters. (shrink)
This paper asks (a) how new scientific objects of research are onceptualized at a point in time when little is known about them, and (b) how those conceptualizations, in turn, figure in the process of investigating the phenomena in question. Contrasting my approach with existing notions of concepts and situating it in relation to existing discussions about the epistemology of experimentation, I propose to think of concepts as research tools. I elaborate on the conception of a tool that informs (...) my account. Narrowing my focus to phenomena in cognitive neuropsychology, I then illustrate my thesis with the example of the concept of implicit memory. This account is based on an original reconstruction of the nature and function of operationism in psychology. (shrink)
One important lesson of Roberts' target article may be potentially obscured for some by the title's reference to “self-experimentation.” At the core of this work, the key investigative resource is sustained and systematic observation, not experimentation, and it is deployed in a fashion not necessarily restricted to self-examination. There is an important reminder here of a strategically important, but neglected, relationship between observation and experiment.
This article explores Michael Faraday’s “Historical Sketch of Electro‐Magnetism” as a fruitful source for understanding the epistemic significance of experimentation. In this work Faraday provides a catalog of the numerous experimental and theoretical developments in the early history of electromagnetism. He also describes methods that enable experimentalists to dissociate experimental results from the theoretical commitments generating their research. An analysis of the methods articulated in this sketch is instructive for confronting epistemological worries about the theory‐dependence of experimentation. †To (...) contact the author, please write to: 10289 Saint Katherine Lane, Saint Ann, MO 63074; e‐mail: email@example.com. (shrink)
According to a multivariate approach on creativity, self-experimentation may well provide many of the conditions that allow for new ideas to occur. This research method is valuable in particular because the researcher's high level of participation in the search for a solution fosters the involvement of the necessary cognitive skills and conative traits.
Based on the historical case of galvanic experimentation in Germany, I identify five types of experimentation which explored and shaped the new phenomenon rather than tested theoretical predictions. Verification evaluated initial reports of Galvani's phenomenon. Simplification reduced the experimental protocol to the fewest and most basic steps. Optimization found experimental conditions that magnified the observed effect. Exploration tested a wide variety of metals, animals or configurations. Application modified the experiment to address unresolved related problems. Attempts to derive laws (...) of the phenomenon or establish its underlying causes were unsuccessful primarily due to the great variability of the experimental results. (shrink)
Some important meta-theoretical insights about experimental psychology are integrated into the "conjectures and refutations" framework in order to reinforce a realist's view of scientific methodology. Some issues which may be difficult for the realist's position are discussed. It is argued that there is no need for the evidential observation to mimic the phenomenon of interest; such a mimicry may even be counter-productive. A case is also made that questions about ecological validity are not relevant to the rationale of experimentation.
To some, a misguided Lamarckian and a fraud, to others a martyr in the fight against Darwinism, the Viennese zoologist Paul Kammerer (1880-1926) remains one of the most controversial scientists of the early 20th century. Here his work is reconsidered in light of turn-of-the-century problems in evolutionary theory and experimental methodology, as seen from Kammerer's perspective in Vienna. Kammerer emerges not as an opponent of Darwinism, but as one would-be modernizer of the 19th-century theory, which had included a role for (...) the inheritance of acquired characteristics. Kammerer attempted a synthesis of Darwinism with genetics and the chromosome theory, while retaining the modifying effects of the environment as the main source of favorable variation, and he developed his program of experimentation to support it. Kammerer never had a regular university position, but worked at a private experimental laboratory, with sidelines as a teacher and a popular writer and lecturer. On the lecture circuit he held forth on the significance of his science for understanding and furthering cultural evolution and he satisfied his passion for the arts and performance. In his dual career as researcher and popularizer, he did not always follow academic convention. In the contentious and rapidly changing fields of heredity and evolution, some of his stances and practices, as well as his outsider status and part-Jewish background, aroused suspicion and set the stage for the scandal that ended his career and prompted his suicide. (shrink)
The case of women radium dial painters â women who tipped their brushes while painting the dials of watches and instruments with radioactive paint â has been extensively discussed in the medical and historical literature. Their painful and abhorrent deaths have occupied the interest of physicians, lawyers, politicians, military agencies, and the public. Hardly any discussion has concerned, however, the use of those women as experimental subjects in a number of epidemiological studies that took place from 1920 to 1990. This (...) article addresses the neglected issue of human experimentation in relation to the radium dial painters. Although womenâs medical examinations have been classified as simple, routine measurements of radiation burden on the body and presented as a great offer to humanity, for more than fifty years those women had been repeatedly used as experimental subjects without proper consent. I argue that through this case it becomes obvious that the issue of defining what counts as human experimentation shifts from an epistemological to a serious ethical and political question, concerning the making of scientific knowledge while issues of gender related to this process are also discussed. (shrink)
Background: The experimental method to acquire knowledge about efficacy and efficiency of medical procedures is well established in evidence-based medicine. A method to attain evidence about the significance of diseases and interventions from the patients' perspectives taking into account their right to self-determination about their lives and bodies has however not been sufficiently characterized.Design: Identification of a method to acquire evidence about the clinical significance of disease and therapeutic options from the patients' perspectives.Arguments: Communication between patient and physician is analyzed (...) as the method to attain evidence about what is at stake for individual patients in disease and therapy. It is the method that enables physicians to directly take into account patients' disease experiences and their aims regarding treatments. These patients' perspectives in turn determine the clinical significance of diagnoses and therapeutic options, if patient-autonomy is taken seriously.Conclusions: A full account of evidence-based medicine needs to include experimentation and communication between physician and patient as equally important methods to attain evidence necessary to practice patient-oriented medicine. The communicative method is especially important for primary physicians as they direct patients within the medical system to have their medical problems most effectively and efficiently addressed. (shrink)
Since emotions give contradictory signals about animal experimentation in medical science, man's relationship to animals must be based upon reason. Thomas Aquinas argues that man is essentially different from animals because man's intellectual processes show evidence of an abstract mechanism not possessed by animals. Man's rights arise in association with this essential difference. The consequence is that only man possesses true rights by Aquinas's definition; animals have them only by analogy. However, cruelty to animals is illicit and they should (...) be protected, principally not because they have rights, but because he who is cruel to animals is more likely to be cruel to his fellowman. If there is a need for animal experimentation in science for the good of man, this approach gives philosophical justification for experimentation, since man's well-being must come before that of animals because of his unique possession of rights. However, those experiments should be carried out in the kindest way possible, to promote kindness towards man. To see man as solely part of a biological continuum in competition for rights with those beings close to him biologically, detracts from man's dignity. (shrink)
Starting from the works by Aselli (De lactibus sive lacteis venis, 1627) on the milky veins and Harvey (1628, translated in 1993) on the motion of the heart and the circulation of the blood, the practice of vivisection witnessed a resurgence in the early modern period. I discuss some of the most notable cases in the century spanning from Aselli’s work to the investigations of fluid pressure in plants and animals by Stephen Hales (Vegetable Staticks, 1727). Key figures in my (...) study include Johannes Walaeus, Jean Pecquet, Marcello Malpighi, Reinier de Graaf, Richard Lower, Anton Nuck, and Anton de Heide. Although vivisection dates from antiquity, early modern experimenters expanded the range of practices and epistemic motivations associated with it, displaying considerable technical skills and methodological awareness about the problems associated with the animals being alive and the issue of generalizing results to humans. Many practitioners expressed great discomfort at the suffering of the animals; however, many remained convinced that their investigations were not only indispensable from an epistemic standpoint but also had potential medical applications. Early modern vivisection experiments were both extensive and sophisticated and cannot be ignored in the literature of early modern experimentation or of experimentation on living organisms across time. (shrink)
Preliminary results of an empirical study of human experimentation practices are presented and contrasted with those of a survey conducted a hundred years ago when clinical research, although tolerated, was culturally deviant. Now that biomedical research is both authorized and controlled, its actors (sponsors, committees, investigators, subjects) come out with heterogeneous rationalities, and they appear to be engaged in a transactional process of negotiating their rationales with one another. In the European context protective of subjects, surprisingly the subjects we (...) interviewed (and especially patient-subjects) were creative and revealed an aptitude for integrating experimental medicine into common culture. (shrink)
This paper points to the need in ape language research to shift from experimentation to ethnography. We cannot determine what goes on inside the head of an ape when it communicates with a human being, but we can learn about the nature and content of the communication that occurs in such face-to-face interaction. This information is fundamental for establishing a baseline for the abilities of an ape-human common ancestor.
Many people involved in the life sciences and related fields and industries routinely cause mice, rats, dogs, cats, primates and other non-human animals to experience pain, suffering, and an early death, harming these animals greatly and not for their own benefit. Harms, however, require moral justification, reasons that pass critical scrutiny. Animal experimenters and dissectors might suspect that strong moral justification has been given for this kind of treatment of animals. I survey some recent attempts to provide such a justification (...) and show that they do not succeed: they provide no rational defense of animal experimentation and related activities. Thus, the need for a rational defense of animal experimentation remains. (shrink)
This essay explores some moral problems raised by experimentation involving the human fetus. In the first part of the essay three examples of fetal experimentation from the medical literature are described in some detail. Next, the ethical and legal arguments employed in the two major existing public policy-documents on fetal experimentation are analyzed. Finally, the author seeks to identify four fundamental presuppositions which underlie divergent normative positions on the problem of fetal experimentation.
There is a familiar opposition between a ‘Scientific Revolution’ ethos and practice of experimentation, including experimentation on life, and a ‘vitalist’ reaction to this outlook. The former is often allied with different forms of mechanism – if all of Nature obeys mechanical laws, including living bodies, ‘iatromechanism’ should encounter no obstructions in investigating the particularities of animal-machines – or with more chimiatric theories of life and matter, as in the ‘Oxford Physiologists’. The latter reaction also comes in different, (...) perhaps irreducibly heterogeneous forms, ranging from metaphysical and ethical objections to the destruction of life, as in Margaret Cavendish, to more epistemological objections against the usage of instruments, the ‘anatomical’ outlook and experimentation, e.g. in Locke and Sydenham. But I will mainly focus on a third anti-interventionist argument, which I call ‘vitalist’ since it is often articulated in the writings of the so-called Montpellier Vitalists, including their medical articles for the Encyclopédie. The vitalist argument against experimentation on life is subtly different from the metaphysical, ethical and epistemological arguments, although at times it may borrow from any of them. It expresses a Hippocratic sensibility – understood as an artifact of early modernity, not as some atemporal trait of medical thought – in which Life resists the experimenter, or conversely, for the experimenter to grasp something about Life, it will have to be without torturing or radically intervening in it. I suggest that this view does not have to imply that Nature is something mysterious or sacred; nor does the vitalist have to attack experimentation on life in the name of some ‘vital force’ – which makes it less surprising to find a vivisectionist like Claude Bernard sounding so close to the vitalists. (shrink)
The ethical treatment of animals has become an issue of serious moral concern. Many people are challenging long-held assumptions about animals and raising questions about their status and their treatment. What is the relationship between humans and animals? Do animals have moral standing? Do we have direct or indirect duties to animals? Does human benefit always outweigh animal suffering? The use of animals for experimentation raises all of these questions in a particularly insistent way. Donna Yarri offers an overview (...) of the current state of the discussion, and presents an argument for significantly restricted animal experimentation. She points to the important similarities between humans and animals, arguing that the actual differences are differences of degree rather than kind. For that reason, she says, we must rethink our use of animals in experimentation. Animal cognition and animal sentiency together are the basis for the argument that experimental animals do have rights, which Yarri here enumerates. Christian theology, she shows, supports the existence of animal rights and contains additional resources within which a more humane animal experimentation can be worked out. Animal experimentation is not completely ruled out, and Yarri provides a model for what benign experimentation would look like. She concludes with a concrete burden-benefit analysis that can serve as the foundation for informed decision-making. (shrink)
In 1995, the Dutch Minister of Health proposed that a randomized clinical trial (RCT) with heroin-maintenance for severe abusers be conducted. It took nearly four years of lengthy debates before the Dutch Parliament consented to the plan. Apart from the idea of prescribing heroin, the minister and her scientific advisers had to defend the quite high material and non-material costs that would arise from employing the randomized controlled design. They argued that the RCT represented the truly scientific approach and was (...) the royal way to unambiguous results. In the present article, I question this common dual justification of RCTs. First, I situate the historical origins and the basic assumptions of the ideal experiment in 20th-century economic liberalism. Secondly, using the Dutch heroin experiment as an example, I discuss human-science experimentation as an attempt to create reality rather than merely record it. Finally, I discuss some surprising responses by heroin users. These responses display the assumptions of RCTs discussed in the historical section, and underline the importance of the culture of heroin use. In the epilogue, I suggest that cultural aspects of heroin consumption can best be studied by thorough ethnographic research. (shrink)