Rebecca Walker presents on virtue perspectives on animal research at City University of Hong Kong.
Animal research is, and has historically been, a subject of deep moral controversy. Some are adamantly opposed to all uses of animals in research and others are dedicated to research on animal “models” in the service of alleviating human suffering. While most members of the general public support biomedical animal research generally many are concerned that animals not suffer needlessly and even those who perform research on animals speak of the moral “costs” of such work and have doubts about the value of some kinds of research. An issue of perennial concern in animal research is how to think about the moral standing of the animal subjects. Do animals have rights? Do we owe them equal consideration based on similar interests? In this talk, I address the question of how animals both are and are not afforded moral standing in the context of animal research by looking to different regulatory models and comparing these with philosophical frameworks for moral standing. I also consider whether and for what reasons we might get beyond the question of moral status in thinking about our relationships with animals.