Sinking the Research Lifeboat
Journal of Medicine and Philosophy. 1988 May; 13(2): 197-212.
A 'lifeboat' situation is one in which all are in great peril and someone must be sacrificed lest all perish. In such situations, it is permissible to do things which would be considered wrong under less drastic circumstances. Proponents of animal rights such as Tom Regan agree that in such circumstances it may be necessary to sacrifice a dog in order to save human life. Is such an admission consistent with calling for the abolition of all scientific research on animals? That is, is scientific research a 'lifeboat'? The analogy is tempting but flawed. The demand for abolition of animal research is not marred by consistency on this score.
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