For many naturalists, animals and “nature” (however we define it) has been a central interest or connection of theirs for much of their lives. Since I can remember (and arguably before according to home videos!), I loved animals and was fascinated with them. I knew at the age of seven that I wanted to work with them to understand them and protect them against willful harm. Unlike many naturalists, respecting animal rights has been a fundamental principle of my life. In high school, I was an active member of Peta and, although I do not endorse some of their tactics and now rarely take part in demonstrations do to my paranoia that it might not be all too acceptable in academia, I do ethically believe in animal liberation principles:
Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any way.
In the animal sciences, most of us seem to be fascinated with the other living organisms we share the planet with, we want to understand and to understand life, we care about their survival as species, and occasionally as unique individuals (in that IACUC determines sufficient discomfort, pain, invasiveness, and sometimes death is necessary for the science and that that science is necessary). Not many of us give priority to the individual in its own right and give it as much respect as one would a human studied (at least relative to contemporary times). This distinct difference and the need to (quite obviously) disturb individuals in order to study them and conserve them has been the hardest dilemma and moral obstacle I’ve had since I started integrating myself in the sciences, doing field work in college, now working with museum specimens for my Master’s, discussing articles throughout classes, seminars and discussions, and began thinking about my future in academia and research hereafter.
I am starting this blog to discuss and cope with these moral issues, as well as those related to morality and the scientific process and scientific findings, potentially in pursuit of peace of mind or maybe finding others who have similar dilemmas and have thoughts about it.