Thursday, April 27, 2017


We will watch excerpts from the movie "Unlocking the Cage"  (HBO)

Relevant links:
Non-human Rights Project
Time line of events (p. 5-8)
Writ of Habeas Corpus
Corporations as legal persons
About Tommy's owner
Justice Barbara Jaffe's ruling

Today's reading:  what are Posner's objections to legal personhood for animals?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


WEAKER (possibly save for next time)

Animal Law

  • we've read psychology (DeWaal), ethics (last 6 weeks)
  • will now read three legal scholars (Steven Wise, Richard Posner, Cass Sunstein)
  • claims about morality vs. claims about what the law is or should be. 
  • Ethical and legal claims are different and need different sorts of support (e.g. about meat-eating or hunting)
  • what legal protections do animals (in the US) actually have?
  • on paper, in practice
  • Definition of "animal"--mice, rats, birds, cold-blooded animals are NOT animals for purposes of AWA
  • Lab animals: we discussed already, see here
  • Animals during transportation
  • Animals on exhibit: zoo and aquarium animals protected, but no protection for rodeo animals
  • How strong is the protection for zoo/aquarium animals?
  • Aquarium--no protection at all for any of the birds, fish, reptiles

  • What about the jaguar?

  • Inspections manual (DWA enclosures for jaguar is OK--no requirement that animal should be able to exercise natural capacities). 
  • Do inspections lead to positive change?
  • Inspection reports (p. 195 -- problem with sloth in 2014)
  • Sloth is still in the same place!

  • You can file a complaint
  • Worries: (1) most animals at Aquarium are not covered, (2) no requirement that animal have space to exercise natural capacities, (3) lack of enforcement (only about 100 inspectors)
  • Endangered Species Act (HERE)
  • Humane Slaughter Act (HERE)
    • covers "livestock"--no laws covering birds
  • Marine Mammal Protection Act (HERE)
  • Horse Protection Act (HERE)
  • Tether laws (HERE)


  • California Proposition 2 (HERE)
  • Have to follow CA law to sell eggs in CA



  1. Someone with "practical autonomy" has "preferences and the ability to act to satisfy them, can cope with changed circumstances, can make choices--even ones she cannot evaluate well--or has desires and beliefs and can make appropriate inferences from them" (p. 230)
  2. Practical autonomy makes X a person with dignity, instead of a mere thing.  (Note: "person" doesn't mean the same as "human organism.")
  3. Certain non-human species do have practical autonomy (great apes, elephants, cetaceans, African grey parrots).
  4. Thus, they are persons, not things.  
  5. Under US law, persons have certain basic legal rights (liberty, right to standing in civil courts, etc.)
  6. Members of those species should have the basic legal rights of persons (liberty, right to standing in civil courts, etc....)
  1. Certain humans with less than complete practical autonomy have a reduced set of rights, but still have rights.
  2. Like cases should be treated alike--a basic legal principle.
  3. Comparable animals should have the same reduced set of rights possessed by less autonomous humans.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Zoos and Aquariums (see presentation blog)

Some extra materials

Giraffe Cam

The Animal Welfare Act (here) does cover zoos, but only covers warm-blooded animals--no reptiles, fish,  or birds.  So most of the animals at the Dallas World Aquarium are not covered and many of the animals at the Dallas Zoo are not covered. The latest inspection reports are here.  See p. 184-195 for DWA.  See p. 423-436 for the Dallas Zoo.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Carbone--The Utility of Basic Animal Research

Questions for today
  1. Is Engel right about the uselessness of animal research?
  2. Is he right that animal research can be replaced by computer models, in vitro research using human tissue, stem cell research, etc.?
  3. If animal research is useful (contrary to what Engel claims), is it ethical?  
Larry Carbone (lab vet at UCSF)
  1. Veterinarians extrapolate from one species to another all the time....successfully
  2. Evolutionary biology supports extrapolation
  3. Carbone is only addressing utility, not morality
  4. Biomedical research is probabilistic--doesn't provide certainty
  5. What we already know about different species helps researchers choose the best animal model
  6. When there are failures of extrapolation, animal researchers study them and learn from them
  7. There are also failures of extrapolation from other types of research--in vitro, computer models, epidemiology, using human volunteers, etc.
Example of extrapolation

Courtine et al., "Can experiments in nonhuman primates expedite the translation of treatments for spinal cord injury in humans?"

NYT article
More video about Gregoire Courtine's lab

Suppose it's useful.  Is it also ethical?

  1. Regan: no
  2. Donaldson & Kymlicka: no
  3. Singer: maybe 
  4. Gruen: unclear
  5. Carruthers, Aristotle, Descartes, Kant: yes
  6. What do you think?
IF animal research can be useful and can be ethical, should it be more tightly regulated?

(1) Balance criterion (my chapter plus other authors):  harm to animals should be "necessary" in the sense that (A) harm to animals is in balance with desired benefit to humans, and (B) no way to achieve same benefit with less harm.
  • cosmetic research
  • Harry Harlow's research
  • Jonas Salk's research
  • Gregoire Courtine's research using rats, using monkeys
(2) Animal Welfare Act (US):  harm to animals should be "necessary" in a weaker sense than above.  (A) Any benefit to humans is worth pursuing through animal research (no demand for balance), but (B) researchers should impose no more harm than necessary to achieve that benefit, whatever it is.  Enforced through regulation, local animal care committees, inspections.

  • cosmetic research
  • Harry Harlow's research
  • Jonas Salk's research
  • Gregoire Courtine's research using rats, using monkeys

(3) European approach, differences:  Balance criterion (see #39, here).  Committees making the judgments are national and non-local (see #39 and #48).  No animal testing for cosmetic purposes; no sales of cosmetics tested on animals (see here).

  • cosmetic research
  • Harry Harlow's research
  • Jonas Salk's research
  • Gregoire Courtine's research using rats, using monkeys

P. S. Trump administration has weakened AWA with black-out of AWA inspection reports.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Engel--the Commonsense Case Against Animal Research

Engel article, annotated

The "no extrapolation" argument against animal research

(1) It's wrong to perform animal experiments that are harmful or painful or lethal for no good reason.
(2) Animal experiments that are harmful, painful, or lethal are always performed for no good reason (they provide no valuable information).

(3) It is wrong to perform these animal experiments.

What animal experiments does Engel discuss?  He says "biomedical research" but he only talks about drug testing.

His argument that animal experiments (involved in drug testing) provide no valuable information:

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Animal Research

  • More reading suggestions for vet group under "presentation readings"
  • Make-up quizzes--We've had one, but we need a few more for a few people.
  • New solution-- there will be make-up quiz questions on the final just for those people.
  • They will be exactly like regular quizzes--they will ask one of the reading questions about one of the readings (assigned after March 9).
  • Prior to the final, I will let you know by email how many you are entitled to answer.

  • Today, the  background facts
  • Tuesday, the arguments pro and con
Background: some types of uses of animals
  1. biomedical research--using animals to learn about human body, diseases, treatments
  2. drug, household product, and cosmetics testing--using animals to determine safety for the benefit of humans
  3. psychology research--doing research on animals to learn about human psychology
  4. veterinary research--doing research on animals to benefit animals
  5. animal psychology research--doing research on animals to learn about animal minds....but to satisfy human desire for knowledge
The Animal Welfare Act
  • regulates research on some species in most labs (more on AWA below)
  • AWA-covered animals used in animal labs in 2001: 1.25 million
  • rats and mice (not AWA-covered) used in animal labs in 2001: 80 million
  • animals used for product and drug testing per year: 10-20 million
  • animals killed for food every year in the US: 10 billion
Animal research - negative (?) examples
Animal research - positive (?) examples
Testing of drugs, household products, cosmetics
  • FDA requires animal testing of drugs
  • household products and cosmetics are tested on animals at the discretion of companies
  • Draize test


Primary US laws that protect animals

  • state animal cruelty laws (labs are exempt, animal farming is exempt)
  • Humane Slaughter Act--applies to slaughter of large mammals
  • Animal Welfare Act 
    • applies to research animals, not not all species, and not federal labs
    • applies to circuses, zoos, aquaria, but not rodeos
    • applies to transport of farm animals, but not farms
    • applies to large breeders, but not to retail outlets or animal shelters


1966 -Sports Illustrated and Life Magazine articles lead to AWA
  • main point of AWA is to prevent lost pets being used in animal labs
  • requires adequate food and housing

1970 - Amendments address animal pain.
  • Anesthetics have to be used during surgery; analgesics have to be offered for pain relief.
  • More venues covered (circuses and zoos, but not pet stores, pet shows, and rodeos)
1985 - Amendments spurred by exposes of animal labs
  • Provisions for institutional animal care committees (IACUCs)
  • dogs must have exercise, primates must have psychological enrichment
Silver Spring Maryland - Dr Edward Taub severs nerves to arms to study nervous system healing - PETA co-founder Alex Pacheco takes undercover position and films - testifies in 1981 congressional hearings

University of Pennsylania - Head injury lab - baboons had their heads crushed in crash simulator - 64 hours of film obtained during raid by Animal Liberation Front - PETA produces film

2002, 2007, 2008 - more amendments

  • "animal" explicitly defined so that rats, mice, birds, and reptiles are not covered 
  • prohibition on animal fighting  
Today's Animal Welfare Act

Questions about IACUCs (institutional animal care and use committees)
  • Are they really ethics committees? (see John Young in research facility video)
  • How do they compare to human subject review committees? 
  • How are animals protected, compared to children?
  • Do IACUCs judge balance between animal costs and human benefits? 
  • Do IACUCs ever veto experiments on ethical grounds?