VIVISECTION, a term denoting, in its strict signification, the dissection of living animals, but popularly employed to denote the practice of performing op erations with the knife on living animals, with the view (1) of increasing physio logical knowledge; (2) of converting speculative into positive conclusion; and (3) of acquiring manual dexterity in operative surgery. In this last sense vivisection is principally confined to the French veterinary schools. By biologists the term is extended to include the per formance of all scientific experiments of a kind calculated to inflict pain on living animals, and having for their object the investigation of the laws which govern life, the processes of disease, the action of heat and cold, poisons and therapeutic remedies. The practice appears to have been introduced by the Alexandrian school in the 4th century B. c.; and to this practice we owe, among many other benefits, the discovery of the circulation of the blood by Harvey; the treatment of aneurism by ligatures by Hunter; the distinction of the sensory and motor nerves by Bell; the introduction of chloroform; and the improved treatment of cerebral diseases which resulted from the researches of Brown-Sequard and Bernard. Among the chief investigators by this method of research at the present day are Burdon-Sanderson, Greenfeld, and Klein, in England; Pasteur in France, and Koch in Germany.
Vivisection has met with vigorous and organized opposition in Europe as well as in the United States, where bills have been brought before various legislatures for the restriction or abolition of the practice. On Feb. 21, 1900, a Senate Committee gave a hearing in Washing ton, on a bill "For the Further Preven tion of Cruelty to Animals in the Dis trict of Columbia," prominent profession al men and officials appearing on both sides. The proceedings were afterward published. President Eliot of Harvard is one of the leading advocates of vivi section in the United States, basing his arguments on the great advance made by its means in medical science in recent years. He objects, however, to its use in secondary schools or before college classes for the purpose of demonstration only. In England, the passage of the "Cruelty to Animals Act" of 1876 legal ized vivisection with restrictions accord ing to which it must be performed under license, the only experiments allowed without anesthetics being such as inflict no pain greater than the prick of a needle. The "London Anti-Vivisection Society," founded in 1876, has worked actively for the abolition of the legaliz ing act. A similar society exists also in the United States and a number of other countries.