WHP Logo

The White Horse Press

Environmental Values

Contents of Volume 9

Other volumes of EV

Environmental Values

The Birth of a Research Animal: Ibsen's The Wild Duck and the Origin of a New Animal Science

H.A.E. Zwart

Environmental Values 9(2000): 91-108. doi: 10.3197/096327100129341994

What role does the wild duck play in Ibsen's famous drama? I argue that, besides mirroring the fate of the human cast members, the duck is acting as animal subject in a quasi-experiment, conducted in a private setting. Analysed from this perspective, the play allows us to discern the epistemological and ethical dimensions of the new scientific animal practice (systematic observation of animal behaviour under artificial conditions) emerging precesely at that time. Ibsen's play stages the clash between a scientific and a romantic understanding of animals that still constitutes the backdrop of most contemporary debates over animals in research. Whereas the scientific understanding reduces the animal's behaviour, as well as its environment, to discrete and modifiable elements, the romantic view regards animals as being at one with (or violently disconnected from) their natural surroundings.


KEYWORDS: history of animal research, Ibsen (The Wild Duck), animal ethics

REFERENCES to other articles in Environmental Values:

What is an Animal? A Philosophical Reflection on the Possibility of a Moral Relationship with Animals. Hub Zwart


This article is available online (PDF format) from Ingenta Journals. Access is free if your institution subscribes to Environmental Values.
Reprints of this article can be ordered from the British Library Document Supply Service or ingenta

Contact the publishers for subscriptions and back numbers of Environmental Values.

THE WHITE HORSE PRESS
The Old Vicarage, Winwick
Cambridgeshire, PE28 5PN, UK
Tel: +44 1832 293222