March 7, 2019
This article by Professor Rob Garner, from his CASJ-funded research, is an account of the work of the Boyd Group, an informal grouping of stakeholders on both sides of the debate about animal experimentation formed in Britain in the early 1990s. Published in the Global Journal of Animal Law, it is an explorative case study which aims to map the opinion-forming processes of the participants of the Boyd Group, many of whom were interviewed by the author, in light of deliberative theory and with the intention of generating suggestions for improved democratic practices in relation to animal welfare issues, and more broadly where representative bodies split by seemingly intractable moral differences.
Not only is animal experimentation a policy issue involving acute moral conflict, but the Boyd Group is also a body made up of partisans representing organisations on both sides of the debate. Not surprisingly, the transformation of views predicted by some deliberative theorists has not occurred. However, deliberation within the Boyd Group has had the effect of softening some of the views and attitudes of the participants, has facilitated some compromises and provides a useful guide to the methods available to those wishing to manage moral conflict.