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Animal Research Ethics: Is Directive 2010/63/EU Speciesist?

  1. Iñigo De Miguel Beriain1,
  2. María Jorqui Azofra2

Published Online: 15 MAY 2014

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0024190



How to Cite

De Miguel Beriain, I. and Jorqui Azofra, M. 2014. Animal Research Ethics: Is Directive 2010/63/EU Speciesist?. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. 1

    Universidad del País Vasco/Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea, Bilbao, Spain

  2. 2

    University of Deusto, Avda. de las Universidades, Bilbao, Spain

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 MAY 2014


Animal rights defenders criticise the Directive 2010/63/EU for at least three objections: experimentation with higher species is not as necessary as the authors seem to assume; even if we accept that it is necessary from a scientific point of view, it would be morally unacceptable; even while it may be necessary from a scientific point of view and morally acceptable, there are no relevant reasons for using apes in experimentation instead of those human beings whose moral status could hardly be considered superior to apes. This article seeks to demonstrate that those objections are not acceptable. Hence, it especially focuses on the third one, assessing that the preference for animals as objects of research is not speciesist discrimination. It is stated that this preference is simply the consequence that is given by the need to ensure the application of the moral criterion highlighted: the maximisation of happiness.

Key Concepts:

  • Speciesism involves the assignment of different values, rights or special consideration to individuals solely on the basis of their species membership.

  • Directive 2010/63/UE has been considered speciesist as far as it settles an unfair discrimination between animals and marginal human beings.

  • This critique is built on the basis of the argument from marginal cases.

  • This argument tries to demonstrate that it is unfair to treat human beings and animals in a different way as far as at least some of them share the same moral value.

  • Marginal human beings are those who are not moral agents due to a lack of a morally relevant quality, such as rationality.

  • The argument from marginal cases does not work in the case of research with animals as far as our preferences are not based on a species prejudice.

  • The use of animals instead of marginal human beings can be justified on the basis of a utilitarian argument.


  • animal research;
  • speciesism;
  • Directive 2010/63/EU;
  • intrinsic value;
  • marginal human beings;
  • three Rs principle;
  • argument from marginal cases;
  • biomedical research;
  • utilitarianism