The Bureaucracy of Empathy
Law, Vivisection, and Animal Pain in Late Nineteenth-Century Britain
Corpus Juris: The Humanities in Politics and Law
Published by: Cornell University Press
270 pages, 152.00 x 229.00 mm, 18 b&w halftones, 1 chart
- ISBN: 9781501770395
- Published: July 2023
The Bureaucracy of Empathy revolves around two central questions: What is pain? And how do we recognize, understand, and ameliorate the pain of nonhuman animals? Shira Shmuely investigates these ethical issues through a close and careful history of the origins, implementation, and enforcement of the 1876 Cruelty to Animals Act of Parliament, which for the first time imposed legal restrictions on animal experimentation and mandated official supervision of procedures "calculated to give pain" to animal subjects.
Exploring how scientists, bureaucrats, and lawyers wrestled with the problem of animal pain and its perception, Shmuely traces in depth and detail how the Act was enforced, the medical establishment's initial resistance and then embrace of regulation, and the challenges from anti-vivisection advocates who deemed it insufficient protection against animal suffering. She shows how a "bureaucracy of empathy" emerged to support and administer the legislation, navigating incongruent interpretations of pain. This crucial moment in animal law and ethics continues to inform laws regulating the treatment of nonhuman animals in laboratories, farms, and homes around the worlds to the present.