22007 Bioethical Issues: Animal Experimentation

Credits: 3 graduate credits in Biological Thought

Prerequisite: Admission to the graduate program in Biological Thought

The course is based on a reader edited by Simona Ginsburg, Susie Fisher and Batya Zalinger, and on books which change from semester to semester.

In this course, the problem of animal experimentation is defined and discussed on the basis of several moral theories (utilitarian and Kantian), with special reference to major modern thinkers (e.g. Peter Singer and Tom Regan). The course also considers the following issues: The relevance and importance of biological facts such as animal sentience to the problem; the historical, religious, economical and cultural context of the problem; the impact of pressure and interest groups on the conduct of animal research; the nature of emotional and moral arguments involved in the debate. Methodological aspects of “the three R's” (reduction, replacement and refinement) as alternatives to animal experiments are presented, and the validity of animal models and cross-species inference is explored. Finally, the course examines conflicting historiographies concerning the role of animal experiments in promoting biomedical research.