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Physiological Cruelty?: Discussing and Developing Vivisection in Great Britain, 1875-1901
Södertörn University, School of Historical and Contemporary Studies.
2016 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

This thesis examines the development of vivisection as a method of physiological research between 1875 and 1901 in Great Britain, by examining some of the arguments, discussions, and ideas put forth by physiologists for the utilisation of vivisection in their research. Because this study operates within the context of medical history, questions of legitimacy, scientific development, and professional image are lifted. The development of vivisection during this period took place with a larger shift in scientific practice playing out in the background, where experimentalism began overtaking the previously more analytical approach to medicine and the sciences. The First Royal Commission on Vivisection in 1875 marks the beginning of this study, and the discussions within allow for a more nuanced picture of the professional debates on the practice, where both proponents and sceptics at times found common ground. Technological and societal aspects were central to much of the argumentation for the further development of vivisection, with technology easing the practical aspects of the method, and the concept of the "gentleman" allowing British "vivisectors" to argue against charges of cruelty, pointing rather to continental schools of physiology as the culprits, whilst lifting the "humanity" behind animal experimentation in Great Britain. In conjunction with pointing out the importance of the method for the development of medical science, the Cruelty to Animals Act and the lobbying on behalf of the professional journals British Medical Journal and The Lancet helped legitimise the practice in Great Britain. The Act allowed vivisection under set circumstances, and the two journals served as megaphones for scientific development on behalf of vivisection, at times even openly criticising sceptical opinions. At the same time, some saw experimental research through vivisection as merely one aspect of medical practice. One which needed to gain foothold in order to help advance medical science for the larger benefit of all humanity.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. , 79 p.
Keyword [en]
animal experimentation, physiology, history of medicine, history of physiology, Cruelty to Animals Act, Royal Commission on Vivisection
Keyword [sv]
medicinhistoria, fysiologi, djurförsök
National Category
History of Ideas
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-30336OAI: diva2:937807
Subject / course
History of Ideas
Humanities, Theology
Available from: 2016-06-16 Created: 2016-06-15 Last updated: 2016-06-16Bibliographically approved

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