Letter: New life for animals

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Sir: In discussing the fate of Barry Horne, your leading article begins from a position which assumes that the use of animals in medical and other experimentation is justified by benefits to human beings. There have clearly been major benefits from such work (but, equally, disasters), and it may be that your assumption is correct.

However, the mere fact that benefits are derived from some activity is not necessarily a measure of its morality. Hundreds of thousands benefited from the slave trade. In the same way that our view of other human beings was changed by the arguments of abolitionists, so, too, our view of other animals has been changed in recent years by the arguments of philosophers who have raised the primary moral question as to whether or not human beings ought to continue to exploit other species in experimentation.

This question needs to be addressed and a Royal Commission may be a way of opening serious public debate. Not to have such a debate will, as you point out, open the way to extremists.


Bury, Lancashire