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Harming animals for research and for food in conditions of moral uncertainty
  1. Robert Streiffer
  1. Medical History and Bioethics, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA
  1. Correspondence to Prof. Robert Streiffer, Medical History and Bioethics, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA; rstreiffer{at}wisc.edu

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Koplin and Wilkinson (K&W) argue for the sociological claim that many believe (1) that the moral uncertainty argument provides significant moral reasons against farming human–pig chimaeras for their organs (henceforth, ‘farming for organs’) but (2) that there no are significant moral reasons against farming non-chimeric pigs for food (henceforth, ‘farming for food’). And yet, K&W argue for the ethical claim, that if the moral uncertainty argument provides significant moral reasons against farming for organs then there are similar moral reasons against farming for food.

The moral uncertainty argument appears to be an application of what I have called ‘the moral status framework’ to farming for organs.1–3 According to the moral status framework, human–animal chimaera research should be evaluated as to its risk of (1) enhancing the moral status of an animal to that of a normal human while (2) continuing to treat the animal as animals are usually treated in biomedical research.4 In status-enhancing research, ‘sacrificing the fundamental interests of the chimeric research subject as they would have been sacrificed in any other animal research is the moral equivalent of sacrificing the fundamental interests of a fully functional adult human being. On all but the most extreme animal rights views, this makes status-enhancing research much worse than other biomedical research on animals, and on any plausible view, makes it absolutely unacceptable’.5 K&W similarly say that, according to the moral uncertainty argument, ‘It would be gravely wrong to treat humans the same way we do animal …

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