Animals, Handicapped Children and the Tragedy of Marginal Cases
Nelson, James Lindemann
Journal of Medical Ethics. 1988 Dec; 14(4): 191-193.
There are human beings whose psychological capacities are rivalled or exceeded by many non-human animals; such humans are often referred to as 'marginal cases'. R.G. Frey has argued that there is no secure, non-arbitrary way of morally distinguishing between marginal humans and non-human animals. Hence, if the benefits of vivisection justify such painful and lethal procedures being performed on animals, so is the vivisection of marginal humans justified. This is a conclusion Frey is driven to with 'great reluctance', but which he can see no way to avoid. This paper points out a feature of the condition of marginal humans unnoticed by Frey and his critics: such humans have suffered a tragic harm. It points towards an analysis of this harm, in terms of counterfactuals holding for marginal humans but not for psychologically equivalent animals....
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