Animal Ethics and Law in Life Sciences

The idea behind the event

Research in basic animal biology and ecology is considered crucial for successful conservation of species. This however usually means invasive research on a sample of individuals within the population. Even research not requiring invasive methods, such as behavioural studies, could potentially involve animal suffering. Biological research is valuable and needed, but it is important to reflect upon and acknowledge ethical problems when they arise.

Researchers in biology and related fields should be informed and encouraged to contemplate the ethical aspects of their work: Is animal suffering and killing ever ethically appropriate? Under what circumstance can experiments involving animals be justified and on the basis of which considerations?

The central issue in any discussion about the treatment of animals is the question of their ability to feel pain and emotions and to reason. What do the latest scientific discoveries tell us?

The legal terrain of animal research is also complicated, providing protection rights to vertebrate animals and cephalopods only. But questions remain here as well: Why are invertebrates not considered? To what degree can these protection rights be enforced?

The objective of this event is two-fold: (1) introduce the topic of animal ethics and animal law to students and researchers of life sciences (with focus on biology and ecology); (2) getting philosophers, ethicists and lawyers acquainted with research on animal pain, personalities and welfare.

The specific aims are:

  1. to establish contacts between researchers in the life sciences and researchers in philosophy, ethics and law,
  2. to disseminate information and different perspectives on the use of animals in research,
  3. to stimulate discussion among different fields,
  4. and to raise awareness of animal ethics.