Animal experimentation is a controversial issue that has been debated for thrity-five years. In early 1970, a group of students of Oxford academics shared their opinions about animal rights by writing an article for the Sunday Times. One member of the group, Richard Ryder, wrote three articles in the Daily Telegraph stating his views concerning the wrongness of animal rights and scientific experimentation. After doing so, Ryder wrote a pamphlet titled Animals, Men and Morals: An Inquiry to the Maltreatment of Non-Humans, and in response to Ryder’s pamphlet, an Australian philosopher, Peter Singer, put forth his beliefs about animal rights. After Singer responded, he published a piece called Animal Liberation: A New Ethics for our Treatment of Animals in 1975. This portion of work noted the beginning of the Animal Rights Movement, also known as Animal Liberation Movement. Many animal-rights activists, professionals, and philosophers argue that testing is morally wrong, while scientists, who test new products on our furry, little friends, argue that there is nothing wrong with it. This paper will explain the outlooks of those who are against animal experimentation and believe animals deserve the same rights as humans, those who are moderate, feeling that a middle ground should be established, and one who conducts the experiments and is for animal experimentation.
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Animal Rights uses each chapter to explain a person’s beliefs concerning animal rights. The introduction begins by mentioning Peter Singer and explaining his arguments for animal rights. In Animal Liberation, Singer states “People hold animals in a state of tyranny. This tyranny has caused and today is still causing an amount of pain and suffering that can only be compared with that which resulted from the centuries of tyranny by white humans over black humans (7).” He argues that animals should be treated with the same rights as humans. He asks for humans to really question animal treatment and to “give animals the same consideration as any other species, including humans (7).” Four basic principles were outlined as a result of the animal rights movement beginning in 1975. First: “Pain is bad, no matter whose pain it might beâ€¦This does not mean that pain is the only thing that is bad, or that inflicting pain is always wrong. Sometimes it may be necessary to inflict pain and suffering on oneself or othersâ€¦.But this is justified because it will lead to less suffering in the long run; the pain is still in itself a bad thing. Second: Humans are not the only beings capable of feeling pain or sufferingâ€¦.Of course, the nature of the beings will affect how much pain they suffer in any given situation. Third: When we consider how serious it is to take a life, we should look, not at race, sex, or species to which that being belongs, but at characteristics of the one being killed, for example, its own desire about continuing to live, or the kind of life it is capable of leading. Forth: We are responsible not only for what we do but also for what we could have preventedâ€¦. We should consider the consequences both of what we do and of what we decide not to do (7, 8.)”. However, some animal-rights activists and organizations believe that Singer’s views were not enough. He opposed most experimentation if it was not for the benefit of science, when the argument should have been all experimentation.
An individual introduced after Singer in Animal Rights, Steven M. Wise, is an author and a law professor who generally shares the beliefs of Singer, but he is one that agrees that the controversy that all animal experimentation is unacceptable. Wise argues that animals deserve legal rights just as the human race does, because, although many don’t believe him, he thinks that animals are just as dependent as humans. Many humans believe that because animals are, most of the time, dependent on humans to take care of them, they don’t deserve the basic legal rights, but Wise counters this argument by stating, “Human babies, for example, do not act autonomously, yet they have rights (64.)”. He also counters the particular argument that animals lack the ability to think rationally, make decisions, and understand emotions such as the human brain and therefore don’t deserve rights, with the growing evidence that “some animals, particularly nonhuman primates, have extraordinary mental capabilities (64.)” He continues to fight for and teach others about animal rights and experimentation.
Contradicting the proposals of Singer and Wise, is the philosophy that “animals lack souls and the ability to reason, justifying the use of animals for experimentation (122.)” Animal Experimentation is used mainly in the Cosmetics Industry but also in the Drug, Food Additives, Supplements, Household Products, Pesticides, and Industrial Chemical Industries, and is still conducted in the United Kingdom and possibly in Universities, medical schools, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, and military defense establishments. Animal experimentation has been proven in many cases to improve medicine and science, and this is the viewpoint in which Professor Carl Cohen bases his beliefs that animal experimentation is necessary. Cohen argues that “experiments on animals are necessary in order to safeguard and improve human health and well-being (128.)” In saying this, he implies that without experimentation on animals, vaccines for malaria and polio would have never been invented. He feels that none of the above industries could have advanced today without animals to experiment on.
Frank Gannon is an individual who has quite a different opinion than Singer, Wise, and Cohen. Animal testing can be both beneficial and non-beneficial, and Gannon feels that a middle ground must be reached. Gannon published a journal article in EMBO Reports stating, “The debate over whether and how scientists should use animal models has been inflammatory, and the opposing viewpoints are difficult to reconcile (519.)” Animal-rights protesters argue that the use of animals for experimentation should be completely abolished. According to Gannon, “Many scientists insist that some experiments require the use of animals and want to minimize regulation, arguing that it would impede their research,” but most scientists try to limit experiments on animals. Gannon believes that “society must find the middle ground-avoiding the cruel and unnecessary abuse of animals in research while accepting and allowing their use if it benefits society.” He feels that in order for our society to flourish and become more medically advanced, it’s necessary to test on animals as long as it’s not flagrant abuse. New products have to be tested in order to be proven effective.
William Hamblin, author of another online journal article, takes Gannon’s belief to the next step. Hamblin mainly supports animal experimentation by stating “Animal testing is used in several areas of research. The three main areas are pure research, drug testing, and the testing of cosmetics, and many good things have come from experiments in these areas.” Animal testing has played a very important role in medical advancement. He’s for it, because less than ten percent of house pets are used for experimentation. He speaks against the ethical argument pointing out that even though humans know animals experience pain, “non-human subject suffer less due to their incapability to remember and anticipate pain.” Hamblin supports animal testing, because so many advancements as an outcome outweigh all of the rodents that die, because most of the animals used in testing today are, in fact, lab rats and mice.
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An interesting viewpoint pertaining to animal experimentation, using Hamblin’s beliefs as a basis, comes from Tipu Aziz, a neurosurgeon in Oxford who is pro-animal testing and speaks publicly about using animals to test cosmetics products. Aziz disagrees with the host of writers in Animal Rights. Aziz said, “People talk about cosmetics being the ultimate evil, but beautifying one has been going on since we were cavemen. If it’s not proven to reduce suffering through animal tests, it’s not wrong to use them.” Aziz uses monkeys in his research in order to research improvements towards Parkinson’s disease. Primates are very similar to humans, especially on the intellectual level. He isn’t afraid to be a “vocal supporter,” according to interviewer for The Guardian, Jane Marshall, and would like to inform others that animal testing is necessary for medical and scientific advancement. After all, he’s doing it for the benefits of the human race. His justifications for animal experimentation, along with those of Gannon and Hamblin, are that this is how we humans advance in industries, especially medical and scientific which are needed for our society to develop. He reasons that it’s not a fact that animals suffer from testing, and until proven, it’s acceptable to improve our civilization through testing. Testing helps researchers develop cures for diseases and save human life. The only way to learn about something is to test it, and as long as animals don’t suffer, there’s nothing wrong with it.
After researching and reading various beliefs of professors and philosophers who are for animal rights and against experimentation, journal authors who believe in a compromise, and scientists who see no wrong in experimenting on animals, my argument for animal rights and against experimentation has slightly changed. I still feel that animals should have legal rights, just as humans, and experimentation is unethical, but I agree with Gannon and Hamblin on the fact that “society must find the middle ground.” As long as the testing that occurs isn’t abusive, it’s important for our society to become more medically and scientifically advanced. The animal-rights activists need to accept within all reality that in the labs, it’s not proven that scientists are abusing animals. Scientists test new products on rats and mice for the improvement of human life. As long as animals aren’t being hurt and we are finding cures for diseases, there needs to be a compromise and the controversy should end.
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