Publication Details

Irvine, R., Degeling, C. & Kerridge, I. (2012). Uncanny Animals: Thinking Differently About Ethics and the Animal-Human Relationship. The American Journal of Bioethics, 12 (9), 30-32.


Maintaining the attention to bodily difference human and animal ontology has long been constructed on rigid physical characterizations seemingly untouched by culture. In "Reframing the Ethical Issues in Part-Human Animal Research," Haber and Benham (2012) call into question most of the formal elements of essentialism that an earlier mode of thought took for granted. Two views on the nature of human and interspecies animal bodies are in contention here. The first offers an argument grounded in the essential developmental properties of human and animal material and biological systems such that giving life to "animals with human derived material," exemplified by animal-human hybrids and chimeras, effaces physical distinctions between animal and human. Dualism is invoked as an interpretive aid, structuring thought and shaping understanding. Against nonhuman animals, human life, in all its stages and forms, uniquely requires some fundamental form of moral consideration. Because of this presumptive obligation, an "inexorable moral confusion" is an inevitable by-product of scientific change, since fixed constructions of animal and human bodies as unified and separate wholes are lost in any clear-cut sense (Robert and Baylis 2003).



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