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She told me that I should look at the Cavendish Royal Commission Report on Scientific Instruction from 1870 to 1875.
But Victorian Royal Commission reports are nothing if not deeply specialist; they are neither distinguished by their typography or by their illustrations. This particular lot was padded with a string of other equally esoteric Royal Commission reports, which meant that the transport costs were almost as great as the costs of the books themselves.
Amongst the other reports I acquired was the 1876 Royal Commission on Vivisection.
At the meeting of the British Association in Edinburgh in 1871, Sir James Paget, father of the Stephen Paget, whom we commemorate tonight, laid a series of resolutions which were passed.
These included the following: Firstly: No experiment that can be performed under the influence of an anaesthetic ought to be done without it; Secondly: No painful experiment is justifiable for the mere purpose of illustrating a law or fact already demonstrated.
I cannot think of any one step which has been made in physiology without that aid.
Now with regard to trying a painful experiment without anaesthetics when the same experiment could be made with anaesthetics or, in short, inflicting any pain that was not absolutely necessary upon any animal, what would be your view on that subject?But on Thursday, when I was absent, (Dr Klein) was examined; and if what I hear is a correct account of the evidence he gave, I may as well throw up my brief.I am told he openly professed the most entire indifference to animal suffering, and he only gave anaesthetics to keep the animals quiet!Although references to animal research have existed in popular culture since at least Shakespeare’s time, from the 1850s onwards, concomitant with the rise of physiology and also stimulated by the discovery of the anaesthetics, chloroform and ether, there was debate in both the public and specialist press about the propriety of experiments on living animals.The appointments of Professors of Physiology at a small number of British Universities fuelled the debate.And it was only a few years later that Vital Brazil, head of the Butantan Institute in Sao Paulo, developed the first antisera to South American poisonous snakes.Amongst the witnesses was Charles Darwin, and to quote him briefly: The first thing I would say is that I am fully convinced that physiology can progress only by the aid of experiments on living animals.The holders of licences should be bound by conditions, and breach of those conditions should entail the liability to forfeiture of the license, the object of the conditions should be to ensure that suffering should never be inflicted in any case in which it could be avoided, and should be reduced to a minimum where it could not be altogether avoided.This was the first statement, in a way, of the 3 Rs. The result was a Bill placing animal experimentation in Great Britain – akin to the study of human anatomy - under the supervision of the law.So the Royal Commission, initiated on 22 June 1875, purpose was to: Inquire into the practice of subjecting live animals to experiments for scientific purposes, and to consider and report what measures, if any, it may be desirable to take in respect of any such practice.The Royal Commissioners included Thomas Henry Huxley, who was also part of the Commission on Science Instruction. Sir James Paget was joined by some of the founding parents of physiology, including William Sharpey and J Burdon Sanderson.