The role of 'public opinion' in the UK animal research debate

Hobson-West, P.
January 2010
Journal of Medical Ethics;Jan2010, Vol. 36 Issue 1, p46
Academic Journal
Animal research remains a deeply controversial topic in biomedical science. While a vast amount has been written about the ethical status of laboratory animals, far less academic attention has been devoted to the public and, more specifically, to public opinion. Rather than what the public think, this article considers the role of 'public opinion'. It draws on a recent empirical study which involved interviews with laboratory scientists who use animals in their research, and with other UK stakeholders. The first section of the paper demonstrates that public opinion has become a kind of resource in the animal research debate. Public opinion polls, in particular, are frequently cited. The second section explores this further and argues that, for all sides, appealing to public opinion is a key way to show legitimacy. Finally, the paper shifts gear to consider whether public opinion should matter, both for ethical reasoning and for science policy.


Related Articles

  • CONGENIAL PUBLIC, CONTRARY PRESS, AND BIASED ESTIMATES OF THE CLIMATE OF OPINION. Gunther, Albert C.; Christen, Cindy T.; Liebhart, Janice L.; Chih-Yun Chia, Stella // Public Opinion Quarterly;Fall2001, Vol. 65 Issue 3, p295 

    This field experiment focused on perceived public opinion about the use of primates in laboratory research. We used this contentious issue to examine the simultaneous effects of three hypothetical ideas—the hostile media perception, the persuasive press inference, and the projection...

  • Ouch! That hurts. Boyce, Nell // New Scientist;09/09/2000, Vol. 167 Issue 2255, p12 

    Focuses on the failure of data on animal experimentation to tell how many animals suffer and how much they suffer as a result of research. Pressure from animal activist groups including the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) for the provision of such information in order to assess...

  • Terror tactics. Boyce, Nell // New Scientist;11/06/99, Vol. 164 Issue 2211, p5 

    Discusses violence directed at United States primate researchers from the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). How researchers are receiving booby-trapped letters from activists; How ALF targeting of people is uncommon for them; Public support in the United States for animal research.

  • stop experiments on monkeys. Kowalski, Kathiann M.; Lopata, Peg // Odyssey;Apr2008, Vol. 17 Issue 4, p32 

    The article discusses the use of animals in laboratories for research work.

  • Of mice and men: Don't blame the rodents. Golden, Frederic // Time International (South Pacific Edition);5/18/1998, Issue 20, p26 

    Focuses on the mice that are used in laboratory experiments. Infrequency with which drugs that work in laboratory animals also work in humans; Reasons for the use of mice; Number of mice produced by the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine; Cost.

  • Vivisection. Jensen, Derrick // Ecologist;Feb2003, Vol. 33 Issue 1, p44 

    Focuses on the use of laboratory animals in studies. Animal casualties from experiments; Examples of animal experimentation. INSET: WHAT'S IN A NAME.

  • Crude figures. Anderson, Ian // New Scientist;6/08/96, Vol. 150 Issue 2033, p57 

    Reports on the lack of statistics about the use of animals in medical research in Australia.

  • References.  // Laboratory Animals;Jul2004 Supplement 1, Vol. 38, p81 

    References for the articles published in the journal "Laboratory Animals" are presented.

  • Summary of recommendations from General Sections 1—15.  // Laboratory Animals;Oct2001 Supplement 1, Vol. 35, p155 

    A summary of the recommendations presented in the different sections that appeared in the October 10, 2001 issue of "Laboratory Animals" are presented.


Read the Article


Sorry, but this item is not currently available from your library.

Try another library?
Sign out of this library

Other Topics