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October 7, 1992

An Introduction to the Philosophical Presuppositions of the Animal Liberation/Rights Movement

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pathology and the Section on Medical Humanities, Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC.

JAMA. 1992;268(13):1715-1719. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03490130103038

THE ANIMAL liberation/rights movement (ALRM) poses a significant threat to the future of medical research. This threat is far greater than currently recognized by most physicians.1,2 One of the strengths of the ALRM is its multifaceted nature.1-7 Some activists attack research by picketing facilities, intimidate researchers via threatening mail or phone calls, or destroy property and threaten lives.3-5,8 Others attack research through political, regulatory, and bureaucratic avenues, or use intimidating legal maneuvers.1,2,4,8 Others criticize research by posing as objective professional organizations.1,2,9 Finally, some professional philosophers provide justifications for ALRM activities.10-20

Defenders of research often miss the mark in their analysis and criticisms, because political terrorist activities tend to draw attention away from careful consideration of ALRM's philosophical presuppositions.21-23 As a result, we have consistently misjudged and underestimated the potential danger of the ALRM. From the beginning, the ALRM has been a liberation movement