Ethical Dilemma Of Animal Testing Philosophy Essay

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This report is based on the Literature Review about ethical dilemma that arises over the controversy of using Animals for Testing and Research Studies. We have tried to explain in brief about Animal Testing and discussed broadly with the Ethical Theories that support and argue about the Use of Animals.

We have also tried to relate all the ethical dilemma with respect to P&G, who over the past decade has been constantly facing the allegations over the use of Animal Testing to ensure that their consumers get Safe Products.

We have tried to come to a conclusion on how Animal Testing can be reduced, if not completely eradicated. At the same time we have voiced our opinions on the use of various alternatives to Animal Testing.

Overview of Animal Testing

The Use of Animals for test observations and Experimentations for the greater understanding of reactions from a particular substance or raw material that goes into some goods or medicines that we consumers consume can be termed as Animal Testing. Or you can say... the use of non-human animals experimentations to prevent pain and sufferings to human beings

A number of companies that produced goods for personal and hygiene care have emerged from the mid to late nineteenth century and this resulted in the number of animal tests and experiments to grow exponentially. The main reasons for those tests were medical research, to cure illness and test chemical compounds used to develop new products. Those tests were conducted in medical schools, pharmaceutical companies, and even farms. The vast amounts of animals that are being tested on are mice, monkeys, cats, dogs and guinea pigs. However, certain types of animals are used for different types of research for instance mice for cancer research, dogs for transplant surgery and cats for psychological experiments. Moreover, most of those animals that are being tested on are purposely-bred and supplied by the specialists companies, others usually come from the pound or are just caught in the wild.

Over 100 million animals in North America alone will be killed in animal tests this year. Animal testing has been going on for years, a lot of companies test their products on animals, some of these tests consist of restraining animals and dropping chemicals into their eyes, the scientists also forcefully pump the chemicals into the animals stomach though a tube to see how it reacts to the chemical. These experiments are sometimes carried without anesthesia which makes it extremely painful for the animal. After observing the reactions for a number of days the animal is either destroyed or re-used in other experiments, most experiments consist of burning, stabbing and drugging animals. The thing is that animals react to drugs differently than we do so the results can't accurately be applied to humans so why do scientists do it?

Since we cannot legally conduct tests on ourselves as humans, we look at the creatures that are right below us, animals. However, some of us don't seem to notice animals have feelings and can experience pain just as we would. As Jeremy Bentham would ask, "The question is not, Can they reason? Nor, Can they talk? But can they suffer?" 

Testing Animal Testing and Ethical Dilemma


The rise in the consumer dominance has led the organizations to adopt the use of various artificially derived chemicals for use in production of Personal and Hygiene Goods. At the same time, medical advances and pharmaceutical companies acknowledge the use of animals for research studies and experimentation. This has raised various doubts about our ethics.

Testing on Animals for chemical substance reactions to ensure consumer safety and drive innovative techniques is believed to be inhumane by some, while others agree that Animal Testing saves LIFE. This research paper evaluates the ethical dilemma borne by us.

Animal Testing Define

The obvious questions that are raised here are about the whole concept of Animal Testing and why is it necessary? Most of us are made to believe that Animal Testing is simply the torture of animals, striping them of their rights and cruel treatment of animals. This "Definition" of Animal Testing might have derived from various organizations that do not support the idea of Animal Research Studies as a whole and demand ethical treatment of animals through unjust terrifying acts of demonstrations and protests. These are the organizations who believe Animals have "RIGHTS".

It was argued upon by Robert & Goldberg (1990) at the Washington conference of Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal with top dignitaries of the Humane Society about the issue of euthanizing millions of stray animals in public interest, and why the ruckus of using the same animals for the use in lab-testing. It was also argued upon at the conference over how activists have been indulged in terrorist like activities, as demonstrated by various raids at numerous labs conducting experiments on animals.

The irony is, we as humans, will never be willing to come up and accept the fact that if we don't test the substances on Us, Animals are the next best alternatives to ensure Safety.

There has always been an argument that animal testing results are inaccurate and also it is expensive to perform tests, secondly, animal testing is inhumane, and thirdly, there are alternatives to animal testing.

According to former scientific executive of Huntingdon Life Sciences, "animal tests and human results agree only '5%-25%' of the time." Then looking at Tony Page's "Vivisection Unveiled" it states that less than 2% of human illnesses (1.16%) are ever seen in animals. In the tests of LD/50 - short for Lethal Dose 50 per cent, a test wherein the animals receive a continuous dose of a dangerous chemical until half of them die - , the Humane Society of the United States states that LD/50 tests do not yield enough data on the following: the poisonous doses of a chemical or substance, the prediction of poisoning signs and symptoms, the prevention or correction of over doses, and the specific cause of death in laboratory animals. Finally, looking at PETA's fact sheets, they argue that "In many cases, animal studies do not just hurt animals and waste money; they harm and kill people, too. The drugs thalidomide, Zomax and DES were all tested on animals and judged safe but had devastating consequences for the humans who used them." The cost of animal testing is about $136 billion each year.

Ethical Dilemma : Corporate Assessment - P&G

Despite the fact that reliable modern humane tests are available in these days, Procter and Gamble insist on testing on animals claiming that this is the last resort that makes sure of their products' safety. Whether it is ethical or unethical for Procter and Gamble to test on helpless animals is the question raised in this ethical dilemma. The case is analyzed and ethically evaluated based on:

Deontological Theories

Teleological Theories

Casuist Theory

All of these ethical theories aim at a common set of goals which are the ethical principles and that includes Beneficence, Least Harm, Respect for autonomy, and Justice.

Deontological Theories:

Deontological theories focus mainly on duties, obligations and rights. One of the most common deontological theories is the Kantianism which is known of its two formulations the Categorical Imperative I and the Categorical Imperative II.


A scientist at Procter and Gamble would raise the question: is it right for humans to test on animals to save human lives? The proposed rule would be that humans can and have the right to test on animals in order to save human lives. So if we universalize the rule: it is accepted for humans to test and experiments with animals in order to save human lives. Furthermore, According to Immanuel Kant- the German philosopher- the only thing with any basic value is a good will. Since animals have no wills at all, they cannot have good will; they therefore do not have any basic value. Hence, it is ethical to test on animals because it saves humans lives.

Procter and Gamble's scientist would argue that moral rights and principles of justice apply only to human beings. Morality is a creation of social processes in which animals do not participate. Moral rights and moral principles apply only to those who are part of the moral community created by these social processes. Since animals are not part of this moral community, we have no obligations toward them. But we do have moral obligations to our fellow human beings, which include the duty to reduce and prevent needless human suffering and untimely deaths, which, in turn, may require the painful experimentation on animals.


A scientist working at Body Shop raise the question: Can Procter and Gamble mistreat and torture an animal claiming that this is the only way to make sure of their products' safety? The proposed rule would be that organizations and companies can torture animals and demonstrate hideous experiments on them just because they believe that human beings are superiors to animals by being rational and intelligent. So if we universalize the rule, then a person can apply "scientific experiments" on any irrational unintelligent creature. Hence, that would include babies and people with mental difficulties and this would definitely be considered immoral and unethical on so many levels. That leads to the fact that although animals are irrational creatures, they feel the pain and the torture exercised on them. Thus, Procter and Gamble's testing on animals can be termed unethical.

Categorical Imperative II implies that individuals should act in a way that leads to a mutual benefit, treating both parties as ends in themselves. According to the case, animals are being misused in a way that is only considered "beneficial" for the human kind by Procter and Gamble. In other words, animals are being used as means to an end. Therefore, Procter and Gamble's actions towards animals are unethical.

Other deontological theories focus on the rights rather than duties and obligations. This leads to the controversial question: Do animals have rights? Even though there is no law that clearly states that animal rights are equal to human rights, animal rights campaigners have stated that animals have the right to live free from human exploitation, whether in the name of science or sport, exhibition or service, food or fashion. Animals have the right to live in harmony with their nature rather than according to human desires. Injecting chemical substances into a rabbit's eye for seven days to produce a "Head and Shoulders" shampoo deprive him from any of these rights. Applying cancer and toxicity tests on rats and mice of optical brighteners and other laundry detergent ingredients leave them with no rights as well. These are just examples of the various experiments applied on animals in Procter and Gamble's laboratories. Thus, testing on animals is unethical.

Teleological Theories:

Teleological theories focus on the consequences and the results of an action. Both of the Utilitarianism theories are perfect examples of such theories. An Act Utilitarian's main objective is to take the action or the decision that would maximize the benefits for most people regardless of constraints such as law. On the other hand, a Rule Utilitarian takes into consideration justice and fairness as well as beneficence for most people.


Those who argue for the continuation of painful experimentation on animals state that society has an obligation to act in ways that will minimize harm and maximize benefits. Halting or curtailing painful experimentation on animals would have harmful consequences to society. Indeed, pain is an evil to be minimized, and scientists at Procter and Gamble do work to minimize pain when possible. Contrary to sensationalistic reports of animal rights activists, Procter and Gamble's scientists are not a society of crazed, cruel, curiosity seekers. But there are instances when the use of alternatives, such as painkillers, would interfere with research that promises to vastly improve the quality and duration of human lives. Animal research has been the basis for new vaccines, new cancer therapies, artificial limbs and organs, new surgical techniques, and the development of hundreds of useful products and materials. These benefits to humans far outweigh the costs in suffering that relatively few animals have had to endure. Society has an obligation to maximize the opportunities to produce such beneficial consequences, even at the cost of inflicting some pain on animals.


From an Act Utilitarian point of view, Procter and Gamble's animal testing does not only harm the whole animal kingdom; it is harming the human race and the environment as well. Animal testing is one of the main reasons of having various animals such as chimpanzees, macaques and white rhinos under threat, the threat of extinction. And as clarified earlier, animal testing is not the adequate way to save human lives. On the contrary, it is putting their lives in danger as well.

A Rule Utilitarian who takes into account fairness and justice would add to the previous points that there is neither justice nor fairness applied when human beings "use" animals as disposable machines claiming that this is the only way to save as much human lives as possible (which is of course not true). Thus, According to the Act and Rule Utilitarianism theories animal testing held by Procter and Gamble is unethical.

Casuist Theory:

The casuist theory compares a current ethical dilemma with examples of similar ethical and their outcomes.


Comparing our current ethical dilemma of Animal Testing and contrast the same with use of Canines as human companions, or use of animals for human safety would raise more doubts about our sincerity and perseverance to the issues raised in our society. Do we fail to conceptualize the degree of our social environment that would create a clear ethical ground that justifies why we do what we do. Although most of the training is under acceptable standards, some safety patrol dogs need rigorous training which can be brutal and inhumane.


Looking at the issue from a casuistic point of view, a perfect similar ethical dilemma would be of human slavery. Caucasians used to believe that they are superior to others and therefore used to slave Africans and treat them in a very inhuman way claiming that by doing so they are maximizing the benefits for the whole world. This was considered one of the norms back in those dark times. Nowadays it is considered immoral, unethical and completely unacceptable in every nation and society to treat another human being in an inferior way. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights clearly states now that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and that everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. People's awareness for human rights has been increasing throughout the years and this was the reason behind this Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Unfortunately, "scientists" at Procter and Gamble are still unaware of the fact that animals are entitled to have their own rights. They are oblivious to the fact that we as human beings have no right to mistreat animals. They have no right as human beings to capture them, torture them and kill them with no mercy under the veil of "saving human lives". On the contrary, animals should have the right to live peacefully with their nature and we as the rational creatures on this earth are obligated to defend the helpless kingdom and protect them from any harm. Thus, animal testing at Procter and Gamble's laboratories can be simply ceased by declaring it unethical.

Consumers First

Looking at the whole idea from P&G's point of view. According to P&G's Human Safety Brochure and Sustainability (2009) overview, we have to first realize the fact that on an average about 4 billion people in the world use P&G products every single day. This makes it their utmost priority that they reduce the risk of any type to the end-user.

It has been for this very fact, that P&G has been indulged in Animal Testing. The underlying factor here is that, we, as Humans, would be biased over the fact that if a particular product is tested on animals, and is guaranteed not to harm us or our children, we instantly change our opinion about the use of Animal Testing.

According to Davis and Donald, we cannot have the ultimate assurance of the safety in the products we buy and use independent of animal testing. They specifically quote "with present day technology, if the cost of achieving such assurance mandates the sacrifice of an occasional hairless mouse or rabbit or laboratory rat, then it is a price that we are prepared to pay. It is a delusion and a sham at this point to say we can achieve one without the other."

Although the Ban on animal testing in various countries have given rise to various companies that are not indulged in Animal - Testing, the Body Shop was one company that started off even before the ban with one view in mind - Cruelty Free products.

Many Researchers and Authors like Goldemberg and Robert (1992), believe that although a company's final product may not be tested on animals, but there is always a chance that down the line, some of the ingredients used were tested on animals by its suppliers or somebody else in the industry.


Medical Advances such as various vaccines, Insulin, treatment for kidney through dialysis, etc. Has been possible as a result of animal testing. At the same the use of various personal care products such has shampoos and cosmetics have been certified safe for human consumption as a result of constant development through Animal testing and research. During this journey, we have failed on many occasions to successfully justify animal testing when researches have gone wrong and caused harm and in certain cases death to Humans.

Although we understand that Animal Testing has resulted in numerous data and statistics that would help generate computer simulation models and prove as a bench mark for further research, we can never stop Animal Testing as whole as it is fueled by our hunger for innovation. There is always room for efficiency and least harm. This can be achieved by the 3Rs theory developed by British zoologists William Russel and Rex Burch in 1959.

The theory focuses on Replacement, Reduction and Refinement of animal testing and experimentations.