Morton D. Moral agency: An essential for research scientists and animal carers [abstract]. ALTEX. 2005;22(Special Issue):12


Animals are not moral agents and so cannot be accused of holding virtues and vices, cunning and slyness, and so on, even though this is classic terminology for horses and foxes respectively. Humans on the other hand have choices of what they do, and as moral agents are held accountable for their actions. In animal research the “right actions” will often determine the welfare of the animals in their care and in their use. Having the right attitude towards animals therefore is one essential contribution to refinement and good laboratory practices. In this context come several activities that are important for the wellbeing of animals such as providing of good conditions for their housing and husbandry, daily and regular checks of animal health and welfare, good statistical design and research strategies, provision of pain relief etc. So in what ways do we incorporate this notion into our training and ethical teachings? Too often such teaching deals only with the 3Rs, but making people with responsibilities for the care and use of animals aware of their duties is more fundamental than any debate over animal rights.

Link to journal: ALTEX - Alternatives to Animal Experimentation