[Christian responsibility and experimental medicine: Experiments with and on humans, experiments on animals] [Article in German]

Main Article Content

Heinrich W. Grosse


The Jewish-Christian convictions than man was created as the image of God founded the "ethics of unavailability" which contrast with the utilitarian "ethics of interests." As man's nature is imperfect according to biblical understanding, those responsible in the field of experimental medicine should counteract all tendencies in society which promote an utopian definition of health and an eugenic mentality (idea of the "perfection of mankind"). Consequently, scientists must reflect their own image of man and the effects of their actions on this image. The goals of experimental medicine must also be examined under the aspect of fairness: do they only benefit a minority in the rich industrial nations?
As in research on humans, the ethical evaluation of animal experiments must consider the question of the underlying image of humanity and the responsibility of mankind connected to it. Because of changes in society's values, the validity of traditional anthropocentrism is increasingly questioned. However, this does not affect the view of the special position of man as the bearer of responsibility.
Even though there are different biblical statements on the relationship between man and animal, the Christian maxim to minimise violence towards animals can be derived from them. In the case of animal experiments this means: experiments which cause the animals severe suffering must be avoided by waiving the potential gain of knowledge from them.
In general: in an ethical discussion on medical experiments using humans or animals, the public must be informed completely and involved effectively. A moratorium must be possible before plans become facts. Thinking about ethical problems in the area of experimental medicine should not be separated from the far-reaching questions about changes in our lifestyle and consumer behaviour.

Article Details

How to Cite
Grosse, H. W. (2002) “[Christian responsibility and experimental medicine: Experiments with and on humans, experiments on animals] [Article in German]”, ALTEX - Alternatives to animal experimentation, 19(4), pp. 195–202. Available at: https://altex.org/index.php/altex/article/view/1079 (Accessed: 31 January 2023).