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The Pros and Cons of Vivisection   By: (1850-1935)

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THE PROS AND CONS OF VIVISECTION

All rights reserved

[Illustration: "LA MORT."

By Bartholomé in Père Lachaise, Paris.

Frontispiece. ]

THE PROS AND CONS OF VIVISECTION

BY

DR CHARLES RICHET

PROFESSOR OF PHYSIOLOGY IN THE FACULTY OF MEDICINE

PARIS

WITH A PREFACE BY

W. D. HALLIBURTON, M.D., LL.D., F.R.S.

PROFESSOR OF PHYSIOLOGY, KING'S COLLEGE, LONDON

LONDON

DUCKWORTH & CO.

3 HENRIETTA STREET, COVENT GARDEN

1908

PREFACE

To scientific readers, Professor Charles Richet needs no introduction, but to the public at large it may be necessary to mention that he is one of the best known of French physiologists. He has occupied for a good many years the Chair of Physiology in the Faculty of Medicine in Paris, and he has contributed greatly to the progress of the science to which he has devoted his life; some of his discoveries are alluded to with all modesty in the pages which follow. He is, moreover, a man of great erudition, and has been wisely selected to be the editor of a monumental work, Le dictionnaire de physiologie , which is issuing from the press to day.

Professor Richet has given particular attention to the study of the psychological side of physiology, and his views on pain will be read as coming from one who is specially fitted to deal with this and other mental phenomena.

I therefore consider it a great honour that Professor Richet should have asked me to write a preface to his most interesting and convincing book on the Pros and Cons of Vivisection, and it is a great pleasure to me to commend its thoughtful perusal to all who are interested in the subject.

Professor Richet is not only one who speaks with authority, but he is one of the gentlest and kindliest of men. The science which he teaches is the science of life. To understand the meaning of vital processes it is necessary to study the living organism, and to obtain this knowledge it is sometimes necessary to perform experiments on living animals. When he defends a practice which many regard as cruel, detestable, and immoral, mainly because of the unscrupulous misrepresentations put forward by the professional Anti vivisectionists, he does so because he is convinced that none of the epithets just mentioned correctly describe the experiments which are carried out in physiological laboratories at the present time. These experiments are undertaken only by properly qualified persons having a due sense of their responsibilities. Every regard is paid to the comfort of the animals employed; and the ultimate aim of this work is the progress of knowledge, and the consequent relief to suffering which is so often only the result of ignorance. The benefits which accrue are felt not only by human beings, but also (as in veterinary practice) by the animals themselves. No attempt is made here to defend experiments which have not these objects in view, or which (as has happened in the past) pay no consideration to the pain an animal experiences.

I feel quite sure that if the British public were convinced that the experiments in our laboratories were all conducted in accordance with our present law, the Anti vivisection crusade would flicker out. It is the object of those who are active propagandists on the other side to keep their agitation going, by omitting to mention the painlessness of the operations performed, or by suggesting (either directly or by innuendo) that anæsthesia is a sham. My own experience, which is a wide one, has been that physiologists not only obey the law literally, but are most punctilious in its due observance. A certain number of trivial irregularities have been reported to the Home Office by the inspectors appointed under the Vivisection Act, but there has been no case of omitting the use of anæsthetics. The majority of these offences have been for using anæsthetics unnecessarily. A certificate in certain cases is granted for the omission of an anæsthetic: this is given when the operation is a trifling one, and has never been granted for any operation more serious than the prick of a hypodermic needle... Continue reading book >>




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