Plato and Politics rarely mix

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As long as we’re on the theme of videos tonight, check out this two minute clip from the BH website showing a UW-Madison committee addressing the question of whether invasive research on primates is ethical.

Some analysis and an explanation of the title following the jump…

Thats my boy, Professor of Bioethics Robert Streiffer, speaking at the beginning of the video; and the highly visible Eric Sandgren, overseer of primate research, speaking toward the end.The position the committee unanimously endorsed ended up looking something like this: if we comply with regulations what we are doing is ethical.

Philosophically, this type of a view (commonly characterized as an “appeal to authority”) doesn’t really hold water. For example, most of us wouldn’t even be comfortable saying something is ethical just because Plato said so, nevertheless arguing that because the federal gov’t says something is ethical, it is. But realistically/politically, this was the correct decision. The people on that committee shouldn’t be blamed for facing that reality, as they have been by some local animal rights activists.

No matter what, I am completely certain that Prof. Streiffer, who introduced the committee’s resolution himself, could take all comers in a philosophical discussion defending the committees position anyway.

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