The Debate On Animal Experimentation Philosophy Essay
Everyone in their lifetime has heard at least a small piece of information about animal experimentation. Whether animal experimentation is shown in a movie, shouted out in a news paper headline, or seen rolling across the bottom of a screen when the nightly news is airing, it’s out there. I believe that animal experimentation is an extremely crucial part of the medical field. I think it is beyond necessary, and I believe it has helped to further medical progress exponentially. It’s a hot topic, a hot, controversial topic that can only be justified or unjustified after looking at the facts.
The issue of animals having the same fundamental rights as humans is a whole other controversy in its self. But that argument, and my viewpoint on that argument, plays a fundamental role on the stance that individuals normally take towards animal experimentation. “Tibor Machan, a professor of business ethics, points out that animals are sometimes driven by instinct to kill their own offspring. Fish, he notes, occasionally eat their young, and lions often slaughter chosen cubs. Although Machan acknowledges that the reasons for this are not clear, he states that the conduct is a matter of ‘genetic disposition.’ Why then, he asks, are humans subject to criminal prosecution if they engaged in similar behavior?” (Haugen, 2007, p.21). The people that agree with Machan’s statement above, as I do, believe that because animals are driven primarily by instinct. Human beings are driven by ethics, are free, and are held morally responsible, therefore animals do not have the same basic rights that are protected with force and law as human beings. But critics of this way of thinking say that animals do not need to be granted rights by humans. They believe that human beings and animals alike possess natural rights to share the planet with one another, and to freely live. Animal rights activists believe that animals are psychological beings, and because of that, they are fundamentally equal, to humans.
I am not a believer of animal rights. I believe that there is a hierarchy when it comes to different species, and I do believe that humans are higher than animals when it comes to that ranking. Humans have a mind that is much more advanced than an animal’s mind. When we make a decision, we have the ability to think about how that decision will affect not only ourselves, but others as well. We are beings that have personal morals, ethics, and feel a sense of responsibility. We have the brain power to distinguish right and wrong. Animals do not possess many of those characteristics, and if they do possess them, they are in minute amounts compared to what a human possesses. Because of this I do not believe that animals require, or should be granted the same rights as humans. I am an animal lover at heart. I am going into the veterinary field because I want to help animals, and I very much do care about them. So a hatred of animals does not influence my stance on animal rights. Basic, non-changeable characteristics of both humans and animals, has led to me to feel as I do about the topic.
After getting past the topic of animal rights, there are many fundamental questions raised about animal experimentation. A big question is whether or not animal experimentation is justifiable. The definition of justifiable is – capable of being justified; that can be shown to be, or can be defended as being just, right, or warranted. The biggest factor in whether animal experimentation can be justifiable, is the question, is animal experimentation ethical?
Dr. Adrian R. Morrison, who works in the Laboratory for Study of the Brain in Sleep and the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine, not only believes that animal experimentation is ethical, but also believes it is necessary to medical progress. “Morrison defends the ethics of his work by explaining that the human race’s over-riding duty is to keep
itself alive. Humans, like all species, are struggling to survive, he maintains, and medical advancement through animal experimentation serves this purpose” (Haugen, 2007, p.73). Morrison goes on to state that humans do have the obligation to care for the needs of the animals they are using, but that need does not invalidate the use of animals in experimentation.
David Thomas, who is a lawyer and chairman of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, disagrees with Morrison. He says, “Because science does not condone experimenting on non-consenting humans, it cannot ethically condone experimenting on animals, which never can give consent” (Haugen, 2007, p.82). Thomas also expresses the thought that the medical community does not experiment on humans because of the pain that some experiments would cause, so why would scientist feel it is condonable to subject animals to that same pain?
I believe that Thomas’ statements all go off of the fact that some people see animals as complete equals to humans. As I stated previously on the topic of animal rights, I do not believe that animals are equal to humans. It is true that animals cannot give consent to being involved in an experiment, but animals do not have the ability to know what consent even consists of. Morrison expresses how the researchers do have an obligation to care for the animals they are experimenting upon, and I completely agree with this statement. “Animal laboratories are monitored by the government, under the Animal Welfare Act which allows oversight committees to inspect animal research facilities to make sure that the animals in their care are housed, cleaned, and fed properly. The AWA also stresses that pain and suffering needs to minimal during procedures, and when there are infractions of the law set forth by the AWA, it can result in steep fines, or even closure of the laboratory.” (Haugen, 2007, p.136). All animals are also
monitored by a veterinarian. Many animals kept in laboratories receive better medical care than the typical house pet, because of the fact that they are being monitored so closely for effects the experimentation may cause. I also agree with Morrison’s statement that the human race’s main duty is to the human race itself. Experimentation is used as a way to come up with cures to disease, treatments, and even to come up with new procedures. But it’s also important to remember that animal experimentation does not just benefit human beings. Animal experimentation is used to benefit veterinary medicine as well. Animal experimentation is used to discover cures for animal diseases, treatments, vaccinations, and experimentation is also used as a way to develop new procedures. Without animal experimentation, animals would not have the great level of veterinary care available to them as they do today.
Many people also raise the question; does animal experimentation really aid medical progress? The American Physiological Society (APS) is a non-profit, national organization that is devoted to fostering education, scientific research and dissemination of information in the physiological sciences. “According to the APS, animals are living models that can help researchers study the progress and consequences of both human and animal diseases. Animal models also aid in testing drugs before trials with human subjects. Without animal experimentation, the APS maintains, it would be impossible to improve the quality of life for both people and animals” (Haugen, 2007, p.138). One person who believes that animal experimentation does not aid medical progress is Christopher Anderegg, who is a member of the Medical Research Modernization Committee, which is a national health advocacy group that evaluates the benefits and risks of medical research methods and technologies. According to Anderegg and his colleagues, “using animals as models for human physiology has resulted in
misleading data and unforeseen consequences in drug testing. The inherent differences between animals and humans have also delayed the proper understanding of how certain diseases progress through human bodies” (Haugen, 2007, p.144).
I completely disagree with the statement that animal experimentation has misled scientists on the effects of certain drugs in human bodies. The scientists that perform experiments upon animals take into consideration how the human body differs from that of an animal. Every animal that is picked for research is picked for a specific reason, and researchers pick the species that they are going to use, because they think that the animal serves as the closest, most exceptional model of the certain aspect of human physiology. Haugen (2007) articulates that The North Carolina Association for Biomedical Research shows this by explaining that:
Crayfish are used to study muscle functions. Armadillos are used to study leprosy. Pigs are used to study influenza and to develop new surgical techniques. Woodchucks infected with a virus similar to the human hepatitis B virus are ideal models to study new treatments for the disease. Sheep, because they share anatomic similarities with humans, are becoming popular models to study diseases and injuries of the bones, joints, and muscles. The squid, octopus, and sea snail are important models for neurobiological studies.
Proponents of animal experimentation attest that even the vast array of mice are invaluable to medical research. Some of these rodents are genetically modified so that they can better simulate human biological systems. This has allegedly given researchers
a better understanding of Parkinson’s Disease, cancer, heart conditions, and muscular dystrophy. (p.136)
Many people also express the thought that new drugs should just be tested on humans to better see the effect on the human body, because they do not trust that the effect that occurred on the animal body would be similar to that of a human. I completely don’t agree with this thought, and when it comes down to it, if someone had a very sick family member, would they want a new drug going into that person without it first being test on an animal? No, they would not. Animals are used in order to save as many human lives as possible. “To ban animal experiments would be to paralyze modern medicine, to perpetuate human suffering, and to endanger human health by allowing products such as insecticides onto the market before testing them for toxicity.” (Dixon, 2009, sec. Pros, para. 3). Alex Epstein said “Millions of humans would suffer and die unnecessarily if animal testing were prohibited.” (Parks, 2008, p. 29). Also many people would not be very happy if they were paying for a medication for their family dog, and that medication actually made their pet sicker because it was not tested on a rodent first. I believe for these reasons that animal experimentation is not only a good idea, but I also believe it plays an incredibly crucial role in the medical field. “The use of live animals continues to be necessary to protect human and animal health.” (Peggs, 2010, p.7).
I think that animal experimentation will always be a controversial topic in society. I believe that animal experimentation is an extremely crucial part of the medical field. I think it is beyond necessary, and I believe it has helped to further medical progress greatly. I am looking forward to the ways in which research will change in the future. I also look forward, and am
hopeful that new cures to deadly diseases, new vaccines will be developed to keep children safe, and I also very much look forward to the way that research will help benefit the veterinary medicine field.
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