Wednesday, May 27, 2009

David Pearce: Post-Darwinian Ethics?

British philosopher David Pearce, who guest blogged here in April, has written a fascinating piece for H+ Magazine about post-Darwinian ethics and the principles of morals and legislation. Pearce writes:
Recent decades have witnessed a slowly expanding "circle of compassion". But it is a circle with one species at its absolute centre. Can Ethics ever aspire to be a rigorous academic discipline that delivers an impartial perspective embracing the interests of all sentient life: the well being of posthuman, human and non-human animals; hypothetical extra-terrestrial life, future "cyborgs", and artificial life alike? Or will Ethics always serve to rationalize the self-interest of the world's most powerful lifeforms?...

...Unfortunately, no such moral clarity was on display in the European Parliament earlier this month. An initial vote passed by EC legislators on May 5, 2009 sets guidelines on the "upper" limit of suffering that humans can lawfully inflict on non-human animals used in scientific experiments. Every year around 12 million non-human animals are used in scientific research in EU nations in the course of commercial product-testing, biomedical research, or open-ended scientific inquiry. Legally permissible levels of suffering inflicted can range from "up to mild" to "moderate" to "severe." Non-human animals are "reusable" if the testing entails up to "moderate" pain. The new EC regulations also cover our closest living relatives, non-human primates. Each year around 10,000 non-human primates are killed in European laboratories. The new parliamentary directive recommends phasing out wild-caught animals in favor of laboratory-bred animals over a 10-year period; and calls for an unspecified overall reduction in the number of non-human primates experimented on.
Be sure to read the entire article.

No comments:

Post a Comment