Proud to Be a Speciesist Stephen Rose

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Dornan, E. A. & Robert Dees (2008). Four in one: rhetoric, reader, research guide, and handbook (4th ed.). New York: Pearson Education, Inc. Proud to Be a Speciesist Stephen Rose

I research on animals. I study the intimate chemical and electrical processes that are the brain's mechanisms for storing information, for learning and memory. To discover those mechanisms, I analyse the cellular changes that occur when young chicks learn and remember simple tasks. An anti-vivisectionist once asked me whether my research didn't make me feel rather like Dr Mengele. No, it doesn't, though I can't resist pointing out that the only country ever to ban animal experimentation was Germany in the Nazi 1930s, showing a sensitivity that certainly didn't extend to those categories of humans regarded as “lives not worth living”. I won't cheapen the justification for my work by claiming that it will have immediate health benefits in helping children with learning problems or in treating the devastating consequences of Alzheimers disease, though the fundamental biological mechanisms I am uncovering are certainly of relevance to both. I will insist that what I do is part of that great endeavour to understand human biological nature, and to interpret some of the deepest of philosophical questions about the nature of mind and brain. Of course, science is a social activity, and in a democratic society should be democratically controlled. But the absolutists within the animal rights movement care little for that sort of democratic control. They want to have their argument both ways. On the one hand they claim the discontinuities between animals and humans are so great that animal experiments can tell us nothing relevant to the human condition. On the other, they say that because animals are sentient, the continuities between animals and humans mean that to privilege the latter over the former is an abuse, for which the pejorative term “speciesism” has been coined. The first statement is...
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