Animal testing or animal research is the use of non-human animals in scientific experimentation. It is estimated that 50 to 100 million vertebrate animals worldwide — from zebrafish to non-human primates — are used annually. Although much larger numbers of invertebrates are used and the use of flies and worms as model organisms is very important, experiments on invertebrates are largely unregulated and not included in statistics. Most animals are euthanized after being used in an experiment. Sources of laboratory animals vary between countries and species; while most animals are purpose-bred, others may be caught in the wild or supplied by dealers who obtain them from auctions and pounds. The research is conducted inside universities, medical schools, pharmaceutical companies, farms, defense establishments, and commercial facilities that provide animal-testing services to industry. It includes pure research such as genetics, developmental biology, behavioural studies, as well as applied research such as biomedical research, xenotransplantation, drug testing and toxicology tests, including cosmetics testing. Animals are also used for education, breeding, and defense research. The topic is highly controversial. Supporters of the practice, such as the British Royal Society, argue that virtually every medical achievement in the 20th century relied on the use of animals in some way, with the Institute for Laboratory Animal Research of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences arguing that even sophisticated computers are unable to model interactions between molecules, cells, tissues, organs, organisms, and the environment, making animal research necessary in some areas. The U.S. and British governments both support the advancement of medical and scientific goals using animal testing, provided that the testing minimizes animal use and suffering. Others, such as the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, question the necessity of it, these opponents make a range of arguments: that it is cruel, poor scientific practice, cannot reliably predict effects in humans, poorly regulated, that the costs outweigh the benefits, or that animals have an intrinsic right not to be used for experimentation.
“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” This means that humans have the sovereign right to subdue and control animals for man’s own purposes.
“There is, too, the fact that we humans have been eating animals as long as we have lived on this earth. Humans may not need to eat meat in order to survive, yet doing so is part of our evolutionary heritage, reflected in the design of our teeth and the structure of our digestion. Eating meat helped make us what we are, in a social and biological sense. Under the pressure of the hunt, the human brain grew in size and complexity, and around the fire where the meat was cooked, human culture first flourished. Granting rights to animals may lift us up from the brutal world of predation, but it will entail the sacrifice of part of our identity–our own animality.”
This fits into the notion of “dominion” in important ways. It relates “dominion” to how we have evolved in the animal kingdom: we have become dominant naturally. To deny our dominance is to deny our natural position in the animal kingdom and the nature of the animal kingdom itself. It is also to deny the vary instinct that led to civilization and our ability to reflect on these matters; the instinct to succeed (ie. dominate). We should embrace both our natural dominance and our instincts to remain dominant, and consider them God-given (or Nature-given). This means accepting the notion of our having “dominion” over other animals.
There are certain animals that have evolved with humans, through mutual self-interests in survival, to become “domesticated” by humans. Cats, dogs, pigs, and chickens are examples. Our “dominion” over these animals is certainly biological and evolutionary. Animal testing is certainly justified on these “domesticated” animals.
Even if we apply the notion of “dominion”, and if we deprive animals of rights, the principle of “dominion” should be applied in a way that requires humans to see themselves as “stewards” of animals. As outlined by Matthew Scully in Dominion, humans should apply the principle of mercy to animals, which requires that they inflict no pain or suffering on them. He writes, “We are called to treat them with kindness, not because they have rights or power or some claim to equality but…because they stand unequal and powerless before us.” Part of the significance of this argument is that even if we conclude animals should not have rights, we can still conclude (via the principle of mercy) that animals should not be subjected to pain, suffering, and testing.
Humans have evolved from animals and from a common single cell organism. Humans did not have dominion then over other animals; in-fact, we didn’t even exist. Therefore, how is it possible to claim that we now can have dominion? At a minimum, evolution forces us to recognize that humans do not have an innate-historical claim to “dominion”.
“THE PHILOSOPHY OF ANIMAL RIGHTS The other animals humans eat, use in science, hunt, trap, and exploit in a variety of ways, have a life of their own that is of importance to them apart from their utility to us. They are not only in the world, they are aware of it. What happens to them matters to them. Each has a life that fares better or worse for the one whose life it is[…] By insisting upon and justifying the independent value and rights of other animals, it gives scientifically informed and morally impartial reasons for denying that these animals exist to serve us.”
“We are part of the earth and it is part of us. The perfumes flowers are our sisters; the deer, the horse, the great eagle: these are our brothers. All things are connected like the blood which unites one’s family.”
The ability to reason and to express a free will is essential to rights. This is because rights require that an individual be capable of responsibility.
“The differing targets, contents, and sources of rights, and their inevitable conflict, together weave a tangled web. Notwithstanding all such complications, this much is clear about rights in general: they are in every case claims, or potential claims, within a community of moral agents. Rights arise, and can be intelligibly defended, only among beings who actually do, or can, make moral claims against one another. Whatever else rights may be, therefore, they are necessarily human; their possessors are persons, human beings.”
This is frequent argument of animal rights activists; that animals deserve rights because they have at least as much capacity to reason as do some retarded humans, who retain rights. The problem with this argument is that it fails to see rights as a thing that must be shared among a group of creatures, not something that is extended on an individual basis. Therefore, the question is not whether some humans are incapable of having rights, but rather whether human kind, as a species, is capable of having rights. They are. Non-human animals, conversely, as a class of organisms, are not capable of holding rights.
“By arguing that animals are equal to humans and thus deserve the same legal protection, animal rights proponents reduce human beings to nothing more than biological entities, on par with animals. Animal rights advocates’ view of humanity negates fundamental Christian, Platonic, and Stoic claims that man was created in the image and likeness of God. Humans are clearly superior to animals. Granting animals legal rights would be dangerous and degrading to humans.”
Offering animals rights impedes on many human rights. For instance, it makes it more difficult for a human to defend themselves or their crops or livestock against threatening animals.
Many supposed animal rights activists claim that they desire to see animals have a right against suffering at the hands of humans. This might be a good idea, but it is false to claim that it is a “right”. Such an idea can only be classified within the realm of animal welfare. The main reason is that it is only something that is practiced by humans unto animals, and can never be claimed or defended by animals out of their own accord. In addition, the idea only restricts humans against inflicting suffering on animals, but does restrict animals from inflicting suffering on other animals (not even animals within their own species). Because it is a one-way relationship in this sense (from human-kind onto individual animals), it can only be seen as welfare, not a right that an animal might be able to carry in all their relationships with other creatures.
Humans are creatures of evolution. In evolution, the natural order is to uphold the self-interests of the individual and the species. Therefore, exploiting other animals to advance human self-interests is consistent with the natural order of evolution, and thus ethical. It is only unethical to damage the interests of one’s own species.
Testing substances on humans without being aware of the potential dangers would be more unethical than testing animals. And, yet, we must perform tests on animals or on humans to advance life-saving medicines. Given a choice between testing humans and animals, it is better to choose to test animals.
“Animal testing generally occurs as a result of developing a cost-benefit model. Basically, if the benefit of the research (to humans) looks high, then it is seen as being worth the costs (to animals). For instance it is seen that if animal research is likely to save the lives of many humans that it is worthwhile. However, it can be argued that all sentient beings have the same rights, and that costs to animals are as important as costs to humans. There is no moral basis for elevating the interests of one species over another this is specieism.”
“The question is not, ‘Can they reason?’ nor, ‘Can they talk?’ but rather, ‘Can they suffer?'”
Many opponents of animal rights and supporters of testing cite the fact that animals kill each other without public outcry, and ask, why humans should be held to a higher standard? The answer is that humans have the capacity to make the choice to inflict pain on animals. Animals, having no free will, so do not have this same ability to choose. Therefore, if we determine that it is morally ethical to do no harm to animals, since we have the choice, it is our unique responsibility to do no harm.
“The time will come when people such as I will look upon the murder of (other) animals as they no look upon the murder of human beings.”
“The basis of all animal rights should be the Golden Rule: we should treat them as we would wish them to treat us, were any other species in our dominant position.”
A number of writers indicate that modern humans have become desensitized to animals, having lost daily contact with them in the wild. In particular, some writers indicate that there is infrequent eye-contact between wild animals and humans, and this has damaged our ability to sympathize with their likeness to us, making it easier (wrongly) for us to kill them and exploit them.
“6. Animals don’t respect our rights. Therefore, humans have no obligation to respect their rights either.
Reply: There are many situations in which an individual who has rights is unable to respect the rights of others. This is true of infants, young children, and mentally enfeebled and deranged human beings. In their case we do not say that it is perfectly all right to treat them disrespectfully because they do not honor our rights. On the contrary, we recognize that we have a duty to treat them with respect, even though they have no duty to treat us in the same way.
While critics question where the line would be drawn, fearing that animal rights activists would grant rights to single cell organisms, the general consensus in the animal rights community is that rights should be conferred only to animals that can suffer. This is a psychological distinction that is possible to make in acceptable terms. And, the main right being granted is the right to avoid suffering at the hands of humans.
“Though we perform testing on animals, and even eat the ones with less fur, we are not cannibals; we do not torture our own. Or do we?
A cow has approximately 90 percent of its genes in common with humans. Those genes code for the same proteins, the same nerve tissue, the same basic emotions and pain, that humans can feel. Monkeys have 97 percent of their genes in common with humans, and share even more striking physical, mental and emotional similarities.”
“To my mind, the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being. The more helpless the creature, the more that it is entitled to protection by man from the cruelty of man.”
“Ask the experimenters why they experiment on animals, and the answer is: ‘Because the animals are like us.’ Ask the experimenters why it is morally okay to experiment on animals, and the answer is: ‘Because the animals are not like us.’ Animal experimentation rests on a logical contradiction.”
This argument simply highlights the fact that animal rights are legally untenable.
Animals don’t respect human rights. Therefore, humans have no obligation to respect their rights either.
Why should animals be free from obligations and responsibilities toward one-another in the animal kingdom, while humans might be obligated by “animal rights” to certain responsibilities toward them? Why should humans be alienated from the natural order of the animal kingdom in this way? The answer is that we should not be, and animal rights should not exist.
“My first line of defense was obvious. Animals kill one another all the time. Why treat animals more ethically than they treat one another? (Ben Franklin tried this one long before me: during a fishing trip, he wondered, ‘If you eat one another, I don’t see why we may not eat you.’ He admits, however, that the rationale didn’t occur to him until the fish were in the frying pan, smelling ‘admirably well.’ The advantage of being a ‘reasonable creature,’ Franklin remarks, is that you can find a reason for whatever you want to do.) To the ‘they do it, too’ defense, the animal rightist has a devastating reply: do you really want to base your morality on the natural order? Murder and rape are natural, too. Besides, humans don’t need to kill other creatures in order to survive; animals do. (Though if my cat, Otis, is any guide, animals sometimes kill for sheer pleasure.)”
Animals invariably experience great suffering in the wild. Removing them from this environment can be very beneficial and reassuring for animals.
“beings that lack a rational faculty also lack the capacity to contribute creatively to the values in nature. By contrast, human beings can create value, as a matter of our initiative, not merely exhibit it.” (p. 36).
“Surely this is one of the odder paradoxes of animal rights doctrine. It asks us to recognize all that we share with animals and then demands that we act toward them in a most unanimalistic way. Whether or not this is a good idea, we should at least acknowledge that our desire to eat meat is not a trivial matter, no mere ‘gastronomic preference.’ We might as well call sex–also now technically unnecessary–a mere ‘recreational preference.’ Whatever else it is, our meat eating is something very deep indeed.”
This applies to animal testing in important ways. Humans have long-crafted animalistic instinct to pursue their own ends through the exploitation of animals in various ways. We have, for instance, killed animals for their furs to survive in cold weather. Those humans exploited animals in this way survived. Those that did not, perished. Evolution has favored humans that have exploited animals. We, therefore, have in us now a natural instinct to exploit animals. This is reflected in our instinct to test animals for our own ends. It is wrong to deny this God-given or Nature-given instinct.
“But even assuming that animals are so very different from us, where does this concept of difference justifying mistreatment come from? Is it supported in the modern ethics of developed countries? It certainly was not the principle justifying our war against Nazism, the better part of a century ago, let alone its more subtle ethical variant of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. A central concept of Civil Rights is to treat different persons as well or better (e.g. affirmative action) than oneself – In short, to ascend to selflessness, cherishing diversity.”
“To my mind, the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being. The more helpless the creature, the more that it is entitled to protection by man from the cruelty of man.”
“Explanation: The philosophy of animal rights is respectful of our best science in general and evolutionary biology in particular. The latter teaches that, in Darwin’s words, humans differ from many other animals “in degree,” not in kind.” Questions of line drawing to one side, it is obvious that the animals used in laboratories, raised for food, and hunted for pleasure or trapped for profit, for example, are our psychological kin. This is no fantasy, this is fact, proven by our best science.”
“I saw deep in the eyes of the animals the human soul look out upon me. I saw where it was born deep down under feathers and fur, or condemned for a while to roam four-footed among the brambles,I caught the clinging mute glance of the prisoner and swore that I would be faithful.”
Humans are uniquely capable of acting immorally. In this sense, the superiority of humans is dependent on whether they act morallyor immorally. Animal testing lends may be an example of human immorality, and fittingly strengthen the case that we may be even worse than other animals, and that testing is, therefore, not justified.
Whether an animal is superior or a human is superior is unimportant to this debate. The fact is, no man or animal is superior than any other. Humans that test animals for human benefit also work toward animal benefit. Vetanarians would not be able to help animals if not given the chance to experiment and test using other animals. The benefits gained from using animals benefit all: both man and animal alike. Thus, the question about dominance and superiority does not pertain to this issue because it does not determine any ground.
Many forms of animal testing do not inflict any pain on the animal. They may simply study the effects of a mild drug on an animal or simply test brain activity without cutting or harming an animal in any way. In consideration of this fact, it is inappropriate to call for abandoning all forms of animal testing. Certainly, there is no need to abandon the forms of animal testing that do no harm to animals.
“Nearly all the external signs that lead us to infer pain in other humans can be seen in other species, especially the species most closely related to us–the species of mammals and birds. The behavioral signs include writhing, facial contortions, moaning, yelping or other forms of calling, attempts to avoid the source of the pain, appearance of fear at the prospect of its repetition, and so on. In addition, we know that these animals have nervous systems very like ours, which respond physiologically like ours do when the animal is in circumstances in which we would feel pain.”
Past experience has shown what invaluable advances can be made in medicine by experimenting on animals, and that live animals are the most reliable subjects for testing medicines and other products for toxicity. In many countries (e.g. the US and the UK) all prescription drugs must be tested on animals before they are allowed onto the market. To ban animal experiments would be to paralyse 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.
Human beings share over 99.4% of their genes with chimpanzees and about 99% with mice. It is instructive to consider that humans also share approximately 90% of their genes with cows. The physiologies of humans and these animals are very similar, with very similar organ and nerve systems. For this reason, it is useful and productive to study these animals as a means of advancing human sciences. The reactions of these creatures are a very good guide to possible reactions of human patients.
“Animals make good research subjects for a variety of reasons. Animals are biologically similar to humans. They are susceptible to many of the same health problems, and they have short life-cycles so they can easily be studied throughout their whole life-span or across several generations.”
“In addition, scientists can easily control the environment around the animal (diet, temperature, lighting, etc.), which would be difficult to do with people. However, the most important reason why animals are used is that it would be wrong to deliberately expose human beings to health risks in order to observe the course of a disease.”
“While monkeys receive drugs in the laboratory, they do not become “addicted” in the same sense that humans become addicted. Still, we are able to see how changes in brain chemistry alter the way the brain works — knowledge that is vital to the design of effective medications.”
There are many factors involved in a drug being reported as toxic that are often cited as a result of animal-testing, but which have to do with other factors, such as human error in use or typical blood-type responses to particular drugs. While there are some instances of misleading results from animal testing that indicated a drug was safe when it was not, this is extremely rare. It is rare enough that it is both insignificant or at least consistent with other risks involved in human drug consumption.
“Antibiotics, HIV drugs, insulin and cancer treatments rely on animal tests. Other testing methods aren’t advanced enough”.
“Animal testing has helped to develop vaccines against diseases like rabies, polio, measles, mumps, rubella and TB”.
Animal testing is not the core of medical advancements in the world. It has certainly been a factor in some cases, but the vast majority of medical research has nothing to do with animal testing. Therefore, the overall impact of ending animal testing will be negligible. Furthermore, alternatives are being developed to replace animals as sufficient mediums for testing and advancing medical practices.
While it is undeniable that scientific advancements have been made on account of animal experimentation, these advancements have been too rare to justify animal testing. The basic problem is that there is never any guarantee that any instance of animal testing will lead to any advancement in science. There is always a significant risk that an entire line of study that involves killing thousands of animals will lead to no substantive scientific benefits. This makes it highly inconsistent that the ethical trade-off is “worth it”, if it ever is. This inconsistency means that a large portion of tested animals will not meet the ethical criteria of being “worth it”, and could thus be called ethically wrong.
“One of the main arguments against the use of animals in research is that animal studies can’t actually confirm or refute hypotheses about human physiology or pathology. In straightforward terms, it can be argued that only research done with humans is relevant to humans.”
Uncaged – “to subject animals to painful, distressing and lethal experiments when the results are not applicable to humans.” Some drugs like thalidomide and clioquinol proved safe in animal testing but were devastating in human consumption. The bigger point is that it is arguable that drugs have been used massively and inflicted massive harm on humans because they were falsely assumed to be safe for human consumption on the basis of animal tests.
“We must remember, however, that animals are not ‘little people,’ and their bodies often respond differently than ours do. As a result, the animal-based research and testing methods continue to fail legitimate human needs, while new discoveries in the field of alternatives have led to new and improved techniques that do not involve live animals.”
A chimp’s skin is very different than the skin of a human. Animals and humans have very different pores and skin sensitivity levels. Therefore, completing experiments on them to see how a product will work on people is a waste of innocent lives.
In fact few breakthroughs have been made as a result of animal experimentation – its advocates have overstated its achievements. There has been a catalogue of errors and failures in animal testing, which its advocates gloss over; as many as half the drugs that have been approved in the US and the UK after animal testing have subsequently had to be withdrawn because of harmful side-effects. Furthermore, there are alternatives to many tests that are currently done on animals – e.g. growing tissue or cell cultures from human cells in the laboratory.
Animals are used as pets and for work in the agriculture and police industries. In all of these cases, they are being exploited for certain human ends, without too much concern for their “rights”. It should not be of major concern, therefore, that animals are being exploited experiments for human ends. And, given that the exploitation is aimed at saving human lives, it is possible to argue that the degree of exploitation could be even more sever than in other cases of animal exploitation where the human-interests are less compelling.
Animals are hunted and fished and are culled by animal controllers (raccoons, rats mice for the purpose of pest control). 10 times the amount of animals that are used in animal testing are killed for other less honorable reasons. Cats and dogs are euthanized every year for not apparent reason than bored owners. Other millions of animals are killed by automobiles (Cats, dogs, raccoons, foxes, deer).
It is not a justification for animal testing that some humans eat and hunt animals. A tenant of the animal rights community is that any form of harm to animals is wrong, usually if it can be easily avoided with reasonable substitutes. It is, therefore, also not appropriate to say that “the eating and hunting of animals goes without much public outcry, so why alienate animal testing?” The truth is that the eating and hunting of animals is met by substantial protest by animal rights activists. Again, hunting and meat consumption do not provide cover for animal testing.
In equivalent, killing of animals and animal testing is wrong!
“everybody has benefited immensely from scientific research involving animals and that virtually every medical achievement in the past century has depended directly or indirectly from this type of work.”
So that if there is a decent chance that an experiment will result in an important medical breakthrough that will reduce human suffering and death then it is justifiable to allow animal suffering. Animal experimentation is the (sometimes distasteful) means to much greater ends.
“[animals] allow us to test possibly life-saving treatments before they are considered safe to test in humans.” If animals were not available to use in testing drugs, it would be more difficult to determine the safety of a drug to humans, which would delay the release of potentially life-saving drugs. This could cost human lives.
While it is true that it is considered worse to harm sentient creatures than microbes and less-sentient creatures, sentient creatures are the most like humans and so the most valuable for making discoveries that are applicable to humans.
The potential human benefits of a particular animal test are typically weighed against the harms that it will entail for animals. Scientists are not wanton in inflicting tests on animals. Rather, they are often bound to meet specific ethical requirements in the trade-off. The harm of the testing must be thought “worth it” for the benefits that it will produce. animal research is justified because it has reducing human suffering.
If we can kill and take life animal life for certain ends, don’t we undermine the value and dignity of life generally?
It is a common argument that it is dangerous and invalid for the ends to justify the means in society. This is often argued against utilitarian government actions that are performed with the intention of producing a certain desirable societal end, but whose means are unethical and violate human rights. Animal experimentation falls squarely into this ethical trap of justifying the ends (human benefits) by the means (animal testing). This is wrong, particularly because animals should enjoy many of the basic rights extended to humans, such as life and/or dignity. It is not acceptable to argue, “it’s true that animal testing is really tortuous, but the human benefits justify it”. Such utilitarian arguments fallaciously violate basic animal rights, and so can never be justified, no matter how great the supposed human benefits.
“Vivisection is a social evil because if it advances human knowledge, it does so at the expense of human character.”
Animal testing and the subjugation of animals undermines a fundamental scientific reality; that humans and animals are kin. With humans and Chimpanzees sharing 99.4% of their genetic code, and humans and mice sharing 99% of their genetic code, it is important to recognize that humans are, on a scientific basis, the kin of animals. The testing of animals undermines this scientific understanding by subjugating animals. This is harmful to broader scientific progression in society.
Because animal rights can be seen as an individual moral advancement, it can also bee seen as a societal moral advancement.
Many argue that animal rights activists are simply anti-science. This misunderstands the intentions of animal rights activists. They fully acknowledge that they science is important and even that animal testing can lead to major advancements in science. But, as is typically said, before science should ask if it canmake certain advancements, it needs to ask if it should. Ethics has authority over all human endeavors, including science.
“Vivisection is a social evil because if it advances human knowledge, it does so at the expense of human character.”
Bernard Rollin argues that any benefits to human beings cannot outweigh animal suffering.
“Animals are still used to test items like cleaning products, which benefit mankind less than medicines or surgery”. Animal testing should only be conducted where it could potentially save human life. This is the only way in which the intentional harm and destruction of animal lives could be justified.
Oregon Regional Primate Research Center are known to impregnate monkeys, expose the mothers and their unborn babies to nicotine, and then test and kill the born baby to discover the effects of tobacco. This is unethical.
“Six million Jews died in concentration camps, but six billion broiler chickens will die this year in slaughter houses.”
What is often overlooked in this debate is the subject of veterinary medicine. It is in the interests of animals themselves that experiments be done on animals to test medicines and surgical procedures for using on animals themselves, not just on humans. Animal experimentation can be in the interests of animals as well as of humans. Heart worm medication was devised from research on animals and has to day helped in saving the lives of many dogs. Animal research has also provided better understanding of cat nutrition and the reasons behind as to why cats live longer and remain healthier are better understood.
It is only acceptable to test human medicines on human beings if they give their consent. Non-human animals are never able to give such consent. It is therefore never acceptable to test medicines on perfectly healthy animals, even if the treatments are for use on other animals.
People that have pets typically develop an affection and even love for their pets, and often believe that their pets return that love and affection. They generally believe that animals have feelings, express happiness, and feel pain and suffering at times. Most would never allow their own pets to be subjected to testing for most of the above reasons. Why then would they believe it acceptable to subject other animals to such testing; animals that have the same capacity for the above feelings?