Animal Studies Bibliography

Bowd, Alan D., and Kenneth J. Shapiro. 1993. The case against laboratory animal research in psychology. Journal of Social Issues 49 (1): 133-142.

Bowd and Shapiro outline problems with animal research, psychologists' responses to these concerns, and a suggestion for how to change the current system. First, animal research cannot simply be defended by the presence of laws and regulations, since not all species (including rats, mice, and birds, which make up about 90% of research animals) are covered by these rules. Second, there are ethical questions involved in the breeding of animals for research purposes. Third, there is often harm to the animals both from the experimental procedures themselves and from the husbandry (care before and after the experiment). Much psychological research on animals in very invasive, causing physical or emotional harm to the animals.

Bowd and Shapiro argue that there is no moral difference between humans and non-humans. All the differences proposed by previous thinkers either include animals or exclude young children and “impaired humans.” Bowd and Shapiro thus conclude that rights and interests belong to animals as well as to humans, and this includes the fact that any feeling being has an interest in avoiding pain, fear, and the like. We must thus reject animal experimentation.

Responses from the discipline and its publications have ignored or minimized the claims of animal rights proponents. Ethics committees remain inactive or more concerned with advocating animal research than with protecting animals. Publications provide disproportionate space to supporters of animal research, most of whom defend the practice defensively and without empirical support. In fact, studies have shown that claims of the great benefits of animal research are overblown and that the benefits of any such future research cannot be foreseen because of unclear extension to humans, the high possibility the study will not get published, and the fact that engaging in animal research means missing other research projects that might have been more beneficial. Costs to animals used in research, in comparison to the ambiguous benefits, are clear. Bowd and Shapiro thus suggest that we should: create alternatives to lab animal research; stop using procedures so damaging that they are “intrinsically objectionable;” stop looking to animal models for complicated cultural phenomena; shift from lab research to “minimally manipulative research conducted in naturalistic and semi-naturalistic settings;” create committees to protect animals in research; allow students who object to animal use to engage in alternatives; and to cover ethical issues evenly in professional publications and in textbooks.


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