This paper identifies a common political struggle behind debates on the validity and permissibility of animal experimentation, through an analysis of two recent European case studies: the Italian implementation of the European Directive 2010/63/EC regulating the use of animals in science, and the recent European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) 'Stop Vivisection'. Drawing from a historical parallel with Victorian antivivisectionism, we highlight important threads in our case studies that mark the often neglected specificities of debates on animal experimentation. From the representation of the sadistic scientist in the XIX century, to his/her claimed capture by vested interests and evasion of public scrutiny in the contemporary cases, we show that animals are not simply the focus of the debate, but also a privileged locus at which much broader issues are being raised about science, its authority, accountability and potential misalignment with public interest. By highlighting this common socio-political conflict underlying public controversies around animal experimentation, our work prompts the exploration of modes of authority and argumentation that, in establishing the usefulness of animals in science, avoid reenacting the traditional divide between epistemic and political fora.
Germain, P. L., Chiapperino, L., & Testa, G. (2017). The European politics of animal experimentation: From Victorian Britain to ‘Stop Vivisection’. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 64, 75-87. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.shpsc.2017.06.004