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Figuring the ‘cynical scientist’ in British animal science: the politics of invisibility

Holmes, Tarquin ORCID: 0000-0001-7446-7816 and Friese, Carrie ORCID: 0000-0001-7144-8046 (2023) Figuring the ‘cynical scientist’ in British animal science: the politics of invisibility. Biosocieties, 18 (4). 780 - 800. ISSN 1745-8552

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Identification Number: 10.1057/s41292-023-00312-z


This paper investigates the ‘cynical scientist’ as a figure in British animal science discourse that developed in relation to the nineteenth-century emergence of the ‘sceptical scientist’. Here, efforts by scientists to demarcate their profession’s territory led to religious backlash against an alleged ‘divorce’ of British science from Christian morality. Animal experimentation became embroiled in this controversy through antivivisectionists’ conviction that animal research was symptomatic of scientific scepticism and Continental atheism’s malign influence. Accusations of cynicism ultimately forced British scientists to accept legal regulation following the 1875 Royal Commission on Vivisection. British scientists were, however, able to utilise their political leverage and credibility as experts to favourably influence licensing and inspection. We suggest that efforts to silence public claims of scientific cynicism may have enabled ‘cynical scientists’ to remain invisible and that this was marked by privilege and power, not marginality. Nevertheless, we argue that regulation and reforms have also worked to internalise within British animal science the notion that scientific cynicism must be combatted through proper governance and internal discipline.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2023 The Authors
Divisions: Sociology
Subjects: S Agriculture > SF Animal culture
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
J Political Science
Date Deposited: 08 Sep 2023 10:36
Last Modified: 15 Apr 2024 16:45

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