Animal Studies Bibliography

Gluck, J. P. and S. R. Kubacki. 1991. Animals in biomedical research: The undermining effect of the rhetoric of the besieged. Ethics and Behavior 1(3): 157-173.

The animal rights debate, like many other political efforts, is marked by rigid sides created by an argumentation is war mentality. Biomedical researchers and animal rights activists thus attempt to defeat the other side, rather than working toward consensus and a fuller understanding of the other's position. One way we can move toward an argumentation is consensus metaphor is for each side to critically examine its own position and the falsehoods of its hardened position. For the community of biomedical researchers (to which G & K belong), there are three such assumptions. First, they argue that animal protection concerns occur cyclically in an effort to block scientific endeavor and as such are trivial and can be ignored. The obvious question in response to this position is that there's no reason to ignore a movement simply because it is cyclical. Further, the fact that these concerns have lasted over such long periods of time suggests that they have a deep basis. Evidence for a strong and meaningful connection between people and animals exists in the existence of cave art of animals from the last ice age and in rituals employed by many different cultures to apologize to and honor animals killed for food. Our confusion over our connections to animals is evident in the worldwide practice of pet-keeping, which includes both treating animals as well as children and severe abuse and neglect of animals, who are euthanized in huge numbers. Finally, the existence of animal protection laws in the West since the 19th century also reflects the strong feelings many people have for animals. All of these facts suggest that concern for animals cannot be written off as trivial. Second, biomedical researchers have propounded a general defense of all science as worthwhile. One example of this argument is the Ortega hypothesis, which posits that great breakthroughs are based upon the smaller work of average scientists, and that therefore more scientists means more breakthroughs. Citation analysis has shown, however, that this hypothesis is probably not true. Further, as an institution that requires publication for a professional's survival, the profession has encouraged scientists to publish their research in ever-smaller pieces and in ever-more specialized journals. The resulting profusion of journals not only impedes scientific progress but also allows mediocre and trivial science to exist, since in this climate, anything can get published. Finally, faked and biased research is probably more prevalent than we might think. In short, to argue that all science is good is clearly misleading. Third, biomedical researchers argue that no ethical consensus can be reached over the use of animals. Some express this point as a frustration over the inconsistencies in our treatment of animals, as in the huge regulations governing researchers' treatment of mice but the generally free license to kill pest mice. In connection, they argue that ethics are relative and based on power struggle, returning to the argumentation is war paradigm. Scientists must examine these assumptions critically in order to move the debate over animal use beyond the current hardened positions. They can do this by recognizing that people's feelings about animals are deep and long-lasting, not trivial; by admitting that some science is bad and by regulating their own endeavors to ensure that the use of animal lives is worthwhile and justified; and by recognizing that ethics are not relative, and that an ethics of animal use must be arrived at through careful consideration and consensus based on mutual understanding. In particular, scientists must move beyond the basic paradox of recognizing animals as similar to humans in body (and therefore useful for research) but not in mind (and therefore available for abuse). We must have ethically justifiable reasons for our treatment of animals in all circumstances--research animals, pests, pets, etc.--based on compassion.


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