Animal Experimentation and Research
In the basement of the psychology department here, a poster hangs on the wall; on it is a picture of two white lab rats and a caption that reads, ?They?ve saved more lives than 911.? This poster hangs on the wall of the room where I performed brain surgery on a rat. Many people would be morally opposed to this and any other form of animal research and experimentation and feel that it should be banned. This heated debate has been going on for centuries with each side possessing strong arguments. A central argument to this debate is whether or not animals are moral patients, with feelings anId the ability to suffer, and if we as humans are entitled to use them as means. Many people feel that we have made great medical advancements that would not have been possible without the use of animals. Alternatively, some feel that despite the medical advancements made, the use of animals remains an unethical practice. I feel that animal experimentation has the capacity to be very beneficial to medical research. However, scientists should try to prevent as much suffering as possible. Likewise, it would be a good idea to prohibit unnecessary testing and experimentation, especially with the recent development of many alternatives.
Despite mounting controversy, many people still find animal experimentation to be a moral and correct practice. A widely accepted thought of some philosophers is that animals are not morally equal to us; therefore, we do not have to treat them as such (Fox, 3). Furthermore, according to Michael Allen Fox, author of The Case for Animal Experimentation, ?animals fail to meet the conditions specified for full membership in the moral community and likewise fail to qualify for having rights? (57). The conditions that he feels animals do not meet are characteristics humans posses: self-awareness, complex language, and the ability to make long-term decisions, among others (50). Likewise, R.G. Frey, who wrote a book titled Interests and Rights: The Case Against Animals, said that even though animals can experience unpleasant situations, they have no true desires, preferences, or memory (?Right from Wrong? 26). If we consider their arguments, it is possible to conclude that animals are not on the same level as humans, which morally allows us to use them for experimentation. Clearly, if everyone agreed that an animal is a member of the moral community?meaning on the same level as humans?then we would not have an ongoing debate. Perceiving an animal to be on the same level of humans in terms of moral implications would then mean that we must treat them as equals.
This begins to introduce another fundamental issue involved in this debate: suffering. Jeremy Bentham introduced this idea with the ubiquitous statement, ?The question is not, Can they reason? nor Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?? This ability to suffer is often attributed to somebody who is a member of the...