The ethics of experiments on higher animals

Michael W. Ross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


It has been demonstrated over the last decade that some higher animals can learn sign language and communicate with humans. This finding radically alters some earlier conceptions of animals as being non-sentient, and forces a re-evaluation of the use of higher animals in research. The ethics of using animals are examined in this paper in relation to postulated levels of consciousness, and in relation to experimental design and experimental goals. In particular, an attempt is made to classify experimental situations with regard to potential psychological trauma, and to examine in detail the ethics of using higher animals in psychological research and situations in which such use can be justified. Analysis concentrates on the scientific ramifications of ethical use of animals, and concludes that in the majority of cases, ethical treatment and scientific approach are synonymous.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-60
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Science and Medicine. Part F Medical and Social Ethics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1981


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