9633615 - Katherine Perlo1 "Would You Let Your Child...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–3. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Katherine Perlo 1 “Would You Let Your Child Die Rather than Experiment on Nonhuman Animals?” A Comparative Questions Approach ABSTRACT By placing the title question alongside Žve comparative questions and offering answers to the whole set as given by seven imaginary respondents, this paper analyzes the question’s deceptiveness and the inconsistency of its implied claims. Apart from am- biguities of situation, history, and agency, the question’s demand for a choice between “your child” and “nonhuman animals” obscures a Želd of other values regarding (1) species, (2) family ties, and (3) the wrongness-in-itself (or otherwise) of the experiments envi- sioned. This paper argues that while a “No” answer to the title question does not, as intended by the questioner, support the experimental status quo, even a “Yes” answer does not reect a choice between one’s own child and animals. A woman came up to an anti-vivisection stall I was on and said, “My son has cystic Žbrosis. Without animal experiments he would have died. Should I just let him die?” We replied, as is customary in pub- lic debate, that the choice was not as she had out- lined it, because animal experiments were unreliable, at best superuous, and even harmful, and that alter- natives were available. But it occurred to me that the hidden ethical complexities underlying her question Society & Animals 11:1 © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2003
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
were even greater than the empirical ones and that the title question of this paper, of which hers was a personal variant, needed to be explored in detail. Examination of it also is of paramount importance politically. Animal exper- iments are the last frontier of the animal rights debate in that, assuming the experiments are necessary and efŽcacious (an assumption accepted here for argument’s sake), they present a more powerful appeal to human self-inter- est than does any other form of animal usage. Nowadays, most people know that meat-eating is unnecessary and unhealthy (even though they may be habituated to it); they realize that circuses, fur, hunting, and cosmetic exper- iments are unjustiŽable luxuries. The vivisection issue remains, and the title question is its strongest weapon. So I wish to show that this question not only challenges but also misleads as to its true subject-matter, as can be demonstrated by means of Žve compar- ative questions (such as often occur in animal-rights discourse), containing different variables for “your child” and/or for “experiment on animals.” It is to be supposed that all six questions (including the title one) are asked of seven imaginary respondents, six of whom answer, “No” to the title question and one, “Yes.” The full meaning of each respondent’s answers to the title ques- tion will be derived by consulting her answers to the comparative questions. The exercise is not a mock sociological survey. Its purpose is to expose the
Background image of page 2
Image of page 3
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Page1 / 18

9633615 - Katherine Perlo1 "Would You Let Your Child...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 3. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online