Anita Guerrini

Nov 16, 2022

Experimenting with Humans and Animals

From Aristotle to CRISPR

Johns Hopkins University Press 2022

Experimentation on animals—particularly humans—is often assumed to be a uniquely modern phenomenon. But the ideas and attitudes that encourage biological and medical scientists to experiment on living creatures date from the earliest expressions of Western thought. In Experimenting with Humans and Animals: From Aristotle to CRISPR (Johns Hopkins UP, 2022) (Johns Hopkins UP), Anita Guerrini looks at the history of these practices and examines the philosophical and ethical arguments that justified them.

Guerrini discusses key historical episodes in the use of living beings in science and medicine, including the discovery of blood circulation, the development of smallpox and polio vaccines, and recent research in genetics, ecology, and animal behavior. She also explores the rise of the antivivisection movement in Victorian England, the modern animal rights movement, and current debates over gene therapy and genetically engineered animals. We learn how perceptions and understandings of human and animal pain have changed; how ideas of class, race, and gender have defined the human research subject; and that the ethical values of science seldom stray far from the society in which scientists live and work.

Thoroughly rewritten and updated, with new material in every chapter, the book emphasizes a broader understanding of experimentation and adds material on gene therapy, self-experimentation, and prisoners and slaves as experimental subjects. A new chapter brings the story up to the present while reflecting on the current regulatory scene, new developments in science, and emerging genomics. Experimenting with Humans and Animals offers readers a context within which to understand more fully the responsibility we all bear for the suffering inflicted on other living beings in the name of scientific knowledge.

Anita Guerrini is a historian of science and medicine, recently retired as Horning Professor in the Humanities at Oregon State University, where she's been since 2008. Before that she was a professor of History and Environmental Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She was educated at Connecticut College and Oxford University and received a Ph.D. in History and Philosophy of Science from Indiana University.

Callie Smith is a poet and a PhD candidate in English at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

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