Animal Studies Bibliography

Baldwin, Elizabeth. 1993. The case for animal research in psychology. Journal of Social Issues 49 (1): 121-131.

Baldwin begins by drawing a distinction between animal welfare organizations and animal rights groups. Animal welfare supporters, she argues, are mainstreamers who aim to improve lab conditions and minimize the number of animals used. On the other hand, animal rights activists are outside the mainstream, believing that animals are equal to humans. Baldwin's position is that animals do not have rights as human do, but people have a responsibility to treat animals they're caring for humanely.

Two philosophical positions underlie animal rights positions: the utilitarian argument and the rights argument. The former argues that in striving to maximize happiness and minimize pain, the happiness and pain of animals should be considered equally with that of humans. This argument is problematic in the difficulty of determining which animals are capable of suffering and because it ignores qualitative differences in suffering. The rights argument, from Tom Regan, claims that animals have rights (such as the right not to be experimented on) based on their inherent value. This argument is problematic in defining the rights and determining who should receive them. In defense of animal research, the Judeo-Christian tradition holds that humans, because fashioned after God, have control over animals. In this vein, modern theorists argue that humans are distinct because they have moral reasoning abilities, and therefore take precedence over animals. A better argument, according the Baldwin, is that animal research has produced great benefits to both humans and animals.

The animal rights movement has its roots in the antivivisection movement in Victorian Britain and its modern origin from Peter Singer's 1975 Animal Liberation . Although the activists derived from this work the principle that animals should not be used for human research, food, entertainment, or other purposes, they have spent most of their efforts protesting animal research, even though more animals are used in the other areas. This tactic is partly a result of activists' awareness that certain researchers and research subjects were “vulnerable to attack.” Researchers' early failure to respond to the attacks allowed animal rights activists to frame the debate over animal research. Baldwin argues that public misunderstanding of scientific procedures makes it difficult to sway the public or to counteract the effects of misinformation about animal research. There are, however, numerous levels of guidelines regarding the care and use of lab animals, including federal and local laws and review boards, unannounced lab checks, and professional ethical guidelines. Baldwin concludes that the substantial amount of regulation, researcher's genuine concern for their animals, the important benefits of the research, and the general public support for continued research justify continuing the practice.



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