In this paper I explore a new approach to the ethics of animal experimentation by conceiving of it as a form of rescue. The notion of rescue, I suggest, involves some moral agent(s) performing an action or series of actions, whose end is to prevent or alleviate serious harm to another party, harm that otherwise would have occurred or would have continued to occur, had that moral agent not intervened. Animal experiments that are utilized as a means to alleviate human illnesses mirror the structure of rescue cases and this means that we can and should apply principles of rescue to illuminate the moral status of animal experimentation. To do this I consider various principles of rescue that might justify animal experimentation. I’ll argue that all of these rescue principles are either not independently plausible, or else they fail to imply that animal experimentation is morally justified. This suggests that it is quite difficult to morally justify animal experimentation when conceived as a form of rescue.

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