According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, ethics is defined as a set of moral principles that govern a person’s behavior. Researchers have studied ethics at great lengths, hoping to answer questions about how humans behave.
So … what does this have to do with pigs? Scientists at Yale University recently announced that they revived a dead pig’s brains hours after the animal died. This is fascinating news, although the scientists did point out that just because the brain was revived doesn’t mean that the pig functioned the same as it did before … well … before it died.
How did they do this? Scientists removed the brain from the pig but kept it hooked up to devices that provided the chemicals necessary to keep the brain “alive.” Why might scientists have wanted to do this? The goal wasn’t necessarily to revive the pig’s brain but was more about studying how brain cells function. This work could lead to a better understanding of brain injuries, for example, and provide answers to questions about brain diseases, not only in pigs but in humans as well.
The results of such a study might pose further questions though: When is the pig considered dead? What are the rules for experimenting on animals regarded as dead but whose brain cells are alive? And how humanely are the animals treated in these experiments? Animal rights activists are asking these and other questions, but for now, the ability to revive brain cells fascinates not only scientists but a lot of other people too!
What do you think? Should animals in this type of experiment be considered dead even though their brain cells are being kept alive?