Dr Johnson’s animal passions

Dalrymple’s most recent British Medical Journal column (subscription required) relates his hero Dr. Johnson’s attack on vivisection:

In the essay Johnson says, “I know not, that by living dissections any
discovery has been made, by which a single malady is more easily cured.”
At the time he wrote, Johnson was surely right; the benefits of
vivisection did not accrue until at the very least a century later. This
could not be known, perhaps, at the time; there was a basic faith that
knowledge would lead in the end to practical amelioration. So it has
proved; but not being a utilitarian, Dr Johnson would not excuse the
Hunters and von Haller on those grounds. Present cruelty is for him more
real than future benefit.

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