A lot more to unpack here, but I thought I would get this out before the campus press did (and they should).
This is the part of the letter Martin sent back to the County Board of Supervisors that simply falls flat on its face.
She adds that Eric Sandgren, who oversees the university’s animal research enterprise, “informed meeting attendees that the campus considers the ethics of animal research on a case by case basis, just as the ethics of research involving humans is addressed case by case.”
The problem is that Biddy made the mistake of quoting the guy who should actually know whats going on here, but who continues to present completely incoherent philosophical views (this is not to say that there aren’t coherent views on his side). Human research involves willing participants, primate research does not. This “case by case” analogy is completely fallacious.
Ignoring that for a second, though, the real issue should be whether the case by case evaluations undertaken by this committee and based on this philosophy Sandgren espouses are turning out ethical results. The answer is, all too often, a resounding no.
The goal here should be stricter requirements on this mystical “utility” calculation used to determine if a given experiment is ethical or not. Most students and Madison residents would get behind this if some of the past abuses of the process became mainstream, which makes it a realistic and achievable goal (and perhaps deserving of an oversight committee itself).