In recent years, the development of research and the increased awareness of our moral duties beyond the human species have pushed the scientific community to a revision of widely-accepted ontological reductionist views that regard non-human animals as mere things. Man, it seemed, did not have any kind of duty towards animals. The new horizons offered by the development of advanced research methods therefore require an ongoing commitment to new perspectives able to find the right balance between the need for scientific knowledge on one hand and the respect for animal life on the other. This is in line with increasing attention to animal welfare and expansion of the "3Rs model": Replacement, Reduction, Refinement.
With the view of promoting the adoption of alternative methods, human body donation for research can contribute not only to the acquisition of important information for human health and for doctors' training, but also can reduce significantly the number of animals sacrificed.
By investigating the scientific and ethical reasons that may encourage cadaver donation, the authors aim to promote the adoption of the practice in Italy by also offering a practical guide to procedures in place in the principal European countries.