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Evidence of Lord Justice Fletcher Moulton Before the Royal Commission on Vivisection

Evidence of Lord Justice Fletcher Moulton Before the Royal Commission on Vivisection

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Excerpt from Evidence of Lord Justice Fletcher Moulton Before the Royal Commission on Vivisection: Wednesday, July 24th, 1907

What, therefore, I want to point out is that we know that the way to acquire knowledge with certainty is by experiment; it follows from its very nature, and from our universal experience in all sciences, that this is the way in which you best acquire knowledge, because you can make each experiment answer some critical question. You can arrange matters so that you have two cases precisely similar in all respects, save that one is without that cause present, and the other is with that cause present, and the contrast gives you a light,which you could not get from Observing instances where you cannot eliminate other causes. The more complex the subject is, the more factors there are at work, the more essential the experimental method is; and the most complex Of all phenomena are those that relate to living beings. I am sure there are those here who have made experiments in connection with life, and know from experience the truth Of what I say. The number Of factors at work is so large, the di?ficulty Of isolating them is so great, that it Often takes very much longer to realise how you can put the question to Nature than it does to put it, and to draw your conclusions from it when you get the answer. But the more complex the subject is, I say the more are you driven away from Observation, which only gives you the total result Of many causes which are varyingly present in all cases, to something which will enable you to isolate several Of the causes and determine separately their effects.

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