The natural outgrowth of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the feminist movement of the 1970s, it has been argued, has been the animal rights movement of the 1980s. To say that human beings are justified, for their own scientific and medical reasons, in using animals for research is not unlike saying that whites, for their own social and political purposes, are justified in keeping blacks economically subservient. While the latter is a clear case of racism, the former is said to be a form of "speciesism."
In a well-documented treatise, Michael Allen Fox, a professor of philosophy at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, has taken on the "animal liberation" protesters to show the irrationality and emotionalism of that argument. Using evolutionary as well as philosophical material, Fox has laid out what he calls a "reasoned case" for experimentation on animals. To Fox's way of thinking, the moral status of animals is ambiguous. Because of that ambiguity and because there is often no other way to get scientific and medical information crucial to human well being, Fox believes that the use of animals in biomedical and behavioral research is justified--within limits. Strict codes of ethics should be developed and enforced, he argues.
There are many things that Fox does not do in this scholarly work. He does not address the use of animals for drug development or toxicity testing--which accounts for the largest and in many cases the most controversial share of experimentation on animals. Moreover, he seems to have made no attempt to be either engaging or persuasive. "The Case for Animal Experimentation" is a sermon--albeit a well-researched one--to the already converted.