The Ethics of Animal Research: The Dilemna and Alterative Approaches

By Steve Joordens.

Published by Journal of the World Universities Forum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Humans are increasing realizing that, as the most powerful species on the planet, we must balance our interests with those of the planet that sustains us. Science must lead this realization of responsibility by conducting itself in a manner that is rational and respectful in terms of its interactions with the environment, including the animals that live within it. I argue that our current double-standard with respect to the different ethical codes we apply to human versus animal research is not rational given that science, in general, embraces the assumption, derived from evolution theory, that there is no qualitative difference between human and nonhuman life forms. Moreover, the scientific data we have to date is entirely consistent with this assumption. In my presentation I will present this argument and then suggest that humans overestimate the importance of animal research by focusing on medical advance per se, rather than the purpose of medical advance; to extend life expectancy and quality. Within this context I highlight other ways to extend and improve life that do not rely on us discovering new medical procedures and do not require intrusive animal research. I argue that these alternatives are superior to our current approach while also allowing us to mature as a species in terms of our interactions with nature.

Keywords: Research Ethics, Animal Research, Medical Research, Prevention, Accessibility to Health Care

Journal of the World Universities Forum, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp.119-126. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 540.152KB).

Prof. Steve Joordens

Associate Professor, Psychology, University of Toronto Scarborough, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I am trained as a cognitive psychologist and my primary research interests focus on the interaction between conscious and unconscious memory processes, especially in contexts of memory or perception. This research has been and continues to be supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. I have also won the Premier's Research Excellence award in recognition of my work on human memory. I teach an extremely large Introductory Psychology class (1500 students), a course that makes extensive use of technology both in terms of lecture delivery (i.e., blended learning) and in term of assessment (i.e., we use peerScholar, an internet-based peer-to-peer writing package that I helped to create and commercialize with my student, Dwayne Pare). I have won a number of awards for my teaching including being listed as one of the 10 best post-secondary lecturers in Ontario and, most recently, winning a Leadership in Faculty Teaching Award valued at $10,000 per annum. With respect to interests independent of my career (so far), I am the bass player and lead singer of a band named Delusions of Grandeur. This hobby has reached the obsession level. I also enjoy SCUBA diving and hiking.

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