Journal of the History of Biology 35 (2):329-363 (2002)

After 1900, the selective breeding of a few standard animals for research in the life sciences changed the way science was done. Among the pervasive changes was a transformation in scientists' assumptions about relationship between diversity and generality. Examination of the contents of two prominent physiology journals between 1885 and 1900, reveals that scientists used a diverse array of organisms in empirical research. Experimental physiologists gave many reasons for the choice of test animals, some practical and others truly comparative. But, despite strong philosophical differences in the approaches they represented, the view that it was best to incorporate as many species as possible into research on physiological processes was widespread in both periodicals. Authors aimed for generality, but they treated it as a conclusion that would or would not follow from the examination of many species. After 1900, an increasing emphasis on standardization, the growth of the experimental method and the growing industrialization of the life sciences led to a decline in the number of species used in research. In this context, the selective breeding of animals for science facilitated a change in assumptions about the relationship between generality and diversity. As animals were increasingly viewed as things that were assumed to be fundamentally similar, scientific generality became an a priori assumption rather than an empirical conclusion
Keywords animal models  experimental method  history of physiology  physicalism  standardization  teleology  test animals
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1023/A:1016036223348
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 62,448
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

What’s so Special About Model Organisms?Rachel A. Ankeny & Sabina Leonelli - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (2):313-323.

View all 16 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Beyond Anthropomorphism: Attributing Psychological Properties to Animals.Kristin Andrews - 2011 - In Tom L. Beauchamp R. G. Frey (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Animal Ethics. Oxford University Press. pp. 469--494.
The Use of Animals in Medical Education and Research.Donnie J. Self - 1989 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 10 (1).
Is the Generality Problem Too General?Michael Levin - 2002 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 65 (1):87 - 97.
How Many Victims Will a Pitfall Make?M. J. W. Jansen & J. A. J. Metz - 1979 - Acta Biotheoretica 28 (2):98-122.
Is the Use of Sentient Animals in Basic Research Justifiable?Ray Greek & Jean Greek - 2010 - Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine 5:14.


Added to PP index

Total views
26 ( #418,343 of 2,446,174 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #456,899 of 2,446,174 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes