Richard D. Ryder

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Richard D. Ryder (2012)

Richard Hood Jack Dudley Ryder (born 1940) is a British writer, psychologist, and animal rights advocate.


  • Since Darwin, scientists have agreed that there is no ‘magical’ essential difference between human and other animals, biologically-speaking. Why then do we make an almost total distinction morally? If all organisms are on one physical continuum, then we should also be on the same moral continuum. … The only arguments in favour of painful experiments on animals are: 1) that the advancement of knowledge justifies all evils – well does it? 2) that possible benefits for our own species justify mistreatment of other species – this may be a fairly strong argument when it applies to experiments where the chances of suffering are minimal and the probability of aiding applied medicine is great, but even so it is still just ‘speciesism’, and as such it is a selfish emotional argument rather than a reasoned one.
    • "Speciesism" (1970). Reported in Speciesism, Painism and Happiness: A Morality for the Twenty-First Century by Richard D. Ryder (Exeter: Imprint Academic, 2011), Chapter 2.
  • The 1960s revolutions against racism, sexism and classism nearly missed out the animals. This worried me. Ethics and politics at the time simply overlooked the nonhumans entirely. Everyone seemed to be just preoccupied with reducing the prejudices against humans. Hadn’t they heard of Darwin? I hated racism, sexism and classism, too, but why stop there? As a hospital scientist I believed that hundreds of other species of animals suffer fear, pain and distress much as I did. Something had to be done about it. We needed to draw the parallel between the plight of the other species and our own. One day in 1970, lying in my bath at the old Sunningwell Manor, near Oxford, it suddenly came to me: SPECIESISM!

Experiments on Animals (1971)[edit]

Experiments on Animals, in Animals, Men and Morals: An Inquiry into the Maltreatment of Non-humans, New York, 1971. ISBN 0-394-17825-4
  • Misleading may be the claims that procedures [of animal testing] are carried out under anaesthesia. Restraining devices and paralysing drugs can today be so effective that an anaesthetic is often unnecessary from the purely practical point of view. The risk of giving a dose too large and thereby losing an expensive chimpanzee, for example, may often tempt a scientist or technician, inexperienced with sophisticated anaesthetic techniques, to give a dose too small, from which the animal quickly recovers — but not of course until after it has been strapped securely to the operating table.
  • Differences in reaction to toxic substances vary considerably between species so that the value of these tests remains doubtful. Although thalidomide was extensively tested on animals in several countries, its terrible properties were not discovered. Conversely, penicillin, the greatest medical discovery of the century, was not extensively tested on animals before its miraculous therapeutic qualities were demonstrated in human patients. If it had been fully tested on animals its high toxicity for guinea pigs would have almost certainly prevented its clinical use.
  • Sometimes captured from the great arboreal freedom of their jungle homes, monkeys are closely confined in cages only three or four feet square. … They can never sit or lie down on a flat, soft or yielding surface. Little wonder that by the time they are needed for the knife or the needle they are so crazed or inert that they are no longer representative examples of animal life. Psychologists who study the behaviour of thousands of such creatures annually, rarely make allowances for the fact that their pathetic subjects have been so deprived that they have become more like monsters than animals. Many people who have experienced close affectionate relationships with individuals of other species testify to the considerable potential for emotional and intellectual development that animals have. When properly cared for a pet dog or cat can develop great subtleties of behaviour that the laboratory animal never shows. Those who have been fortunate enough to closely observe unfrightened animals living in the wild are often struck by the complexity and richness of the life they lead. These positive pleasures the laboratory animal never knows; for him the same four white walls and the smell of disinfectant.

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