Article ID: CBB079918903

Science, sensitivity and the sociozoological scale: Constituting and complicating the human-animal boundary at the 1875 Royal Commission on Vivisection and beyond (2021)


Arnold Arluke and Clinton Sanders (1996) have argued that human societies index both humans and animals as belonging to particular rungs of the social hierarchy. They term this multispecies ranking the “sociozoological scale”. This paper will investigate how claims at the 1875 Royal Commission on Vivisection about the sensitivity of particular species and breeds not only reflected assumptions about human social hierarchy but also blurred the boundaries between the human and the animal in the process. It will further be shown how these claims were informed by 18th and 19th century humanitarianism, classism, scientific racism and evolutionary theory, and how these influences combined in claims-making about the relative capacity of particular animals to sense pain and ethical duties towards them that followed from this sensitivity. Particular attention will be given to the opposing efforts of commissioners Thomas Henry Huxley and Richard Holt Hutton to demarcate human and animal sensitivity and exempt companion animals from vivisection respectively. The paper concludes by considering the sociozoological orders constituted by the 1876 Cruelty to Animals Act, particularly through its focus on calculating pain, and the legacy and limitations of this constitution.

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Authors & Contributors
Shmuely, Shira Dina
Beaufays, Joseph-Paul
Beregoy, Natalia E.
Burkhardt, Frederick
Carvalho, André Luis de Lima
Darwin, Charles Robert
História, Ciências, Saúde---Manguinhos
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Endeavour: Review of the Progress of Science
Ethics, Place and Environment
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
Journal of the History of Ideas
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT
Cambridge University Press
Oxford University Press
Peter Lang
Peter Lang Inc., International Academic Publishers
Animal rights
Science and ethics
Human-animal relationships
Animal experimentation
Biology and ethics; bioethics
Darwin, Charles Robert
Cobbe, Frances Power
Huxley, Thomas Henry
Kingsford, Anna Bonus
Palmieri, Paolo
Paolucci, Luigi
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
20th century
20th century, late
Great Britain
Bengal (India)
Royal Commission on Vivisection (1875)

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