Nonhuman Animal Experiments in the European Community: Human Values and Rational Choice
In 2008, the European Community (EC) adopted a Proposal to revise the EC Directive on nonhuman animal experiments, with the aim of improving the welfare of the nonhuman animals used in experiments. An Impact Assessment, which gauges the likely economic and scientific effects of future changes, as well as the effects on nonhuman animal welfare, informs the Proposal. By using a discourse analytical approach, this paper examines the Directive, the Impact Assessment and the Proposal to reflect critically upon assumptions about the morality of nonhuman animal experiments. Because nonhuman animal welfare is so prominent in the Proposal, it appears that the EC position advances beyond human self-interest (orthodox rational choice) as the sole motivator for such experiments, to ethical questions about the welfare of nonhuman animals (which can be better explained by a multidimensional approach to rational choice). In examining this contention, this paper concludes that, even given concerns about nonhuman animal welfare, nonhuman animal experimentation in the EC is firmly grounded in a morality that focuses on human benefit goals rather than on the wider moral issues associated with the means of achieving such goals.