An Ongoing Conversation with Robert Streiffer on Science and Ethics

I would like to thank Prof. Robert Streiffer for taking the time to comment on an earlier post of mine regarding the ongoing dialogue on the ethics of animal research at UW-Madison. I had originally drafted an email to him with a reply, which is now reproduced below.  I am sure the readers will forgive … Continue reading An Ongoing Conversation with Robert Streiffer on Science and Ethics

Extending a Public Conversation on the Ethics of Animal Research

The following is commentary by Prof. Robert Streiffer on a previous post by Dario Ringach. It was originally published on a UW-Madison website but  was subsequently removed.  It is being republished here with his permission, with Dario's reply to it being published on SR tomorrow. On March 11, 2013, Rick Marolt and I engaged in … Continue reading Extending a Public Conversation on the Ethics of Animal Research

The moral relevance of human intelligence

Animal rights proponents often assert that “sentience” is the only morally relevant characteristic. In their view, we owe the same moral consideration to all sentient living beings, which must include the same basic rights to life and freedom. The animal rights philosopher asks -- Why does it matter if humans can compose a violin concerto … Continue reading The moral relevance of human intelligence

Consciousness and Moral Status

A group of scientists recently gathered at the Francis Crick Memorial Conference and issued the following declaration which as been widely covered in the media: The absence of a neocortex does not appear to preclude an organism from experiencing affective states. Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of … Continue reading Consciousness and Moral Status

Speaking of Morality

It was with the goal of sharing my personal views on the ethics of animal research that I recently published a manuscript on the topic. I also participated in two separate, public debates with animal rights philosophers Gary Francione and Nathan Nobis. Briefly, my position is based on the notion of graded moral status.  I believe we owe moral consideration … Continue reading Speaking of Morality

Straight from the animal rights book

It is that time of the year when animal rights activists, will show up at our workplaces dressed in their favorite animal costumes to spread more nonsense and misinformation about the nature of biomedical research. One of their favorite claims is that the scientific community treats animals like any other piece of disposable, laboratory equipment … Continue reading Straight from the animal rights book

Objections to the Marginal Case Argument

Scientists are often challenged with the so-called marginal case argument. We are asked to spell out the criteria that make our experiments justifiable in animals but not in humans with comparable abilities and therefore comparable interests. These criteria, we are told, must be evaluated for each individual separately (so-called moral individualism). The resulting argument against … Continue reading Objections to the Marginal Case Argument