Non-human ethical issues


Why use animals?

  • Non-humans fascinating to study and such research may benifit them in the future.
  • Animals offer the opportunity for greater control and objectivity in research as human beings and non-humans have sufficient physiology and evolutionary past in common.
  • Mostly animals are used in research when such procedures would not be possibel with huam beings. E.g. Selye (1936) reserach of the GAS model - would not be ethical to do this on humans.
  • Some people think of moral justification and believe that the questuion remains as to whether 'science at any cost' is justifiable. E.g. there is a debate on whether animals experience pain (i.e. whether they are sentient).
  • Evidence that they respons to pain but may not be the same as conscious awareness.
  • Adifferent line of argument is that in relation to sentience, some humans lack it, such as brain damaged individuals and babies, but they would not be used in reserach without consent.
  • Not enough evidence to say that the lack of sentience provides a moral justification for the use of animals in reserach.
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  • Regan (1984) - no circumstances under which animal research is acceptable. Claimed that animals have the right to be treated with respect and should never be used in research.
  • Can be challenged by examining the concept of rights - having rights is dependant on having responsibilities in society - therefore be said that as animals do not have any responsibilities they do not have rights.
  • Constraints and legislations to allow for proper animal research - ensure that animals are not treated unfairly and that the research is benificial. E.g. UK animals act (1986) requires that animal reserach only takes place at licenced laboratories with licenced researchers on licenced projects - only granted if potential results are important enough to justify the use of animals or the research cannot be done using non-animal methods.
  • Arguments about wether legal constraints work. Dunayer (2002) argues that animal legislation simply set standards for the imprisonment, enslavement, hurting and killing of animals. Claims that laws are similar to laws that cnfided norms of black enslavement in America, suggesting that making animal research legal, does not make it right.
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