In this paper, I examine the discursive tendencies employed by British antivivisectionists
during the greater part of the nineteenth century to bring French experimental physiology into disrepute.
Still another factor that contributed to an erosion of the antivivisectionist
cause was the successful effort of physicians to mobilize popular support for vivisection by expanding the debate from the pages of scientific journals to publications such as Popular Science Monthly, Harper's Magazine, and the Ladies' Home Journal.
Public concern over vivisection was making itself known in the 1870s through the emerging discourse of antivivisectionist
In addition to vivisectors such as Bernard, Victorian society also gave birth to legislation against animal cruelty, with the SPCA founded in 1824, the Vegetarian Society in 1847, and the antivivisectionist
movement during the 1870s.
Lederer shows that in the first half of the twentieth century "the moral issues raised by experimenting on human beings were most intently pursued by the men and women committed to the protection of laboratory animals, the American antivivisectionists
Traditionally, the term antivivisectionist
has been used to identify those persons with more than a mild objection to the use of animals in medical and scientific research.
Science "is up against one of the greatest and most powerful tenets that have ever swayed the minds of mankind," wrote Wright, explaining the antivivisectionist
"trouble" in cultural rather than psychological terms.
And the comments of some of the leaders in the antivivisectionist
movement suggest that they are motivated more by personal needs to win a power struggle against the leaders of the biomedical community than by humanitarian concerns for either people or animals.
At the other extreme, there are ardent and vocal advocates of animal rights, those broadly in the antivivisectionist
tradition, who claim that at least certain animals, if not all life, have an ethical significance comparable to our own.
Not unlike hydropathy and homeopathy, naturopathy drew from the ranks of German healers, philosophical idealists, spiritual and mental healers, vegetarians, botanics, antivaccination and antivivisectionists
, and individualists who rejected authority, including licensing, in their endorsement of "every man his own physician." Emerging at a time when conventional medicine was not much different from other "panthies," and had yet to absorb modern science and bacteriology, naturopathy fed off the public's disdain for conventional medicine's heavy-handed efforts to standardize and professionalize itself as the lone repository of medical truth.
While these research successes were being celebrated, abuse and exploitation, resulting in violations of human dignity and disrespect for morality, were starting to surface in the field, and by the 1890s, antivivisectionists
were already calling for laws to protect children because of the increasing numbers of institutionalised children being subjected to vaccine experiments in Europe and the USA.
He has been criticized for animal experiments conducted without anaesthesia, and is quoted as saying, "I am selfish enough to prefer mankind to frogkind, rabbitkind, etc." As a result, he was attacked, at least twice physically, by antivivisectionists
. Today, we would condemn some of his techniques as needlessly inhumane, but it is essential to remember the prevailing ethos.