An Argument against Animal-Based Research

The following discussion provides substantive and practical arguments against animal-based research to support the claim that animal-based research ought to be discontinued. In line with this, the discussion is divided into three parts. The initial part of the discussion presents the justifications for the argument which will be followed by a specification as well as a rebuttal of the counterarguments for the necessity of animal-based research. Finally, the last part of the discussion extrapolates on the substantive and practical arguments against animal-based research in conjunction to the arguments presented in the existing literature on the issue.

It is important to note from the onset that the concept animal is used as opposed to non-human animals for the sake of simplicity. An animal, as it is used in this discussion, refers to all sentient animate life forms (Pullen 103).  A sentient animal here refers to a conscious animate life form, the consciousness of which is evident in its awareness of its surroundings and its capability of experiencing pain (Monamy 6).  Animal-based research, on the other hand, pertains to any investigation involving the use of animals or tissues derived from animals (Pullen 103). There are three distinct categories of animal-based research, these being applied research, biomedical research, and toxicity testing (Pullen 103-104). The former involves the use of animals for medical investigations and genetic modifications (Pullen 103). Biomedical research, on the other hand, involves the use of animals for observational or invasive biological studies (Pullen 104). Finally, the later form of research involves the use of animals for testing the toxicity level of substances that may have contact with humans (Pullen 103).

The issue in animal-based research can be implicitly derived from the definition of the concept animal and the practices involved in animal-based research mentioned above. Practices in animal based research determine the value of animals based on the utility of an experiment thereby reducing animals to the relative interest of human beings. Such a conception of animals fails to account for their intrinsic value. In line with this different arguments are posited for the necessity of continuing or discontinuing animal-based research.

Arguments For and Against Animal-Based Research
Arguments forD  against the use of animals in research may be divided into substantive and practical arguments. Substantive arguments focus on the moral nature of animals as they specify the properties that animals possessD  lack in order for them to be eligibleD  ineligible to a moral status. Practical arguments forD  against animal-based research, on the other hand, focus on the implications of the practice on the social and political life of human beings. In most instances, substantive arguments provide the support for the practical arguments forwarded forD  against the issue at hand.

Arguments for Animal-Based Research
Several assumptions unify the substantive arguments for animal-based research. First, animals have no moral status or merely possess a derivate moral status compared to human beings (Zamir 61-62). Second, since human beings have a superior moral status compared to animals, their interests take a primary role compared to animals (Zamir 64-66). An extension of these assumptions to the practical arguments for animal-based research leads to the proposition that animals may be used in research as their interests take a secondary role to the interests of human beings (Zamir 61-62). This view is succinctly presented by Carl Cohen as he claims, Humans are of such a kind that they may be the subject of experiments only with their voluntary consent. The choices they make freely must be respected. Animals are of such a kind that it is impossible for them, in principle, to give or withhold voluntary consent or to make a moral choice. What humans retain when disabled, animals have never had (865). Another manifestation of this view is presented by Brody as he argues that although animals interests ought to be considered in research, in deciding whether or not the research in question is justified, human interest should be given greater significance that animal interests (132).

The above mentioned arguments for animal-based research takes the following logical form In cases where in the qualifying properties for determining the relationship between A and H shows that A is inferior to H, it follows that H is justified in harming A. From this formal form of the argument, one may infer that the justification for animal-based research may also be used as a justification for all forms of cruelty to animals. Such a view however remains to be problematic since it contradicts one of the implicit assumptions of those who justify animal-based research. This contradiction is evident if one considers that human beings existence as moral agents immediately places them in a situation wherein it becomes their duty to consider the best interest of the other entities in their surroundings. In other words, human beings have a duty to ensure the well-being of animals and as such they ought to prevent cases of cruelty to animals. In addition to this, one may note that the logical form of the argument presented above also allows instances wherein superior human beings may treat the inferior human beings immorally. From a commonsensical perspective, this proves to be immediately illogical. To merely argue that this form of reasoning is sound in the case of animals and human beings fails to account to for the moral duty of human beings to ensure the well-being of those incapable of formulating moral judgments.

Arguments against Animal-Based Research
In the case of arguments against animal-based research, the substantive arguments take several forms. First, animals have an intrinsic value (Singer 285 Callicot 389 Zamir 16). Second, animals share similar qualities or characteristics with human beings (Singer 285 Callicot 389). Finally, actions andD  or decision that inflicts harm on others is immoral (Bernstein 7). The practical manifestations of these arguments are evident in their opposition to actions that lead to cruelty to animals, one of which is animal-based research.

The initial argument emphasizes that animals exist not merely to further the goals of other entities and as such their right to life ought to be respected by human beings (Zamir 23). The second argument, on the other hand, emphasizes that animals share similar characteristics with human beings, an example of which is their capability to experience pain (Singer 505). This argument in itself may be traced to Bentham who claims, Pleasure is good and pain is evil and an ethical person should attempt, in choosing courses of action, to maximize the one and minimize the other, no matter whose pain or pleasure may be involved (qtd in Callicot 384). Benthams assumption here qualifies animals and considers an ethical person as an entity who ensures the good of others. The final argument, on the other hand, takes the form of Bernsteins Principle of Gratuitous Suffering PGS which places emphasis on the moral implications of the actions performed in animal-based research to human beings. PGS states, It is morally wrong to intentionally inflict (or allow the infliction of) gratuitous pain or suffering on another, innocent individual (Bernstein 7). Bernsteins PGS may also be traced to Benthams utilitarian framework. Another argument against animal-based research emphasize that it leads to the unjust and discriminatory attitudes towards species other than our own (Cigman 47). In other words, human beings treatment of other species is comparable to that of racism in the human species. Singer refers to this as speciesism which is the unjustifiable treatment of other specifies based on standards of how we treat the members of our own species (288). Speciesism thereby involves human beings inability to recognize certain similarities they share with other species on the basis of their self-conceived supremacy over other species.

Counter-arguments to these views typically take the form of arguments that emphasize the superior nature of human beings in comparison to animals. As can be seen from the discussion above, these assumptions for the necessity of animal-research are unsound as they fail to uphold the implicit assumptions of their own arguments. A probable argument that may hold however would the emphasis on the distinction between the natural traits and metaphysical traits of animals and human beings.

Given the arguments for and against animal based research, this discussion holds that animal based research ought to be discontinued. As was mentioned in the initial part of the discussion, several reasons may be given for this (1) the intrinsic value of animals, (2) their possession of similar characteristics with human beings, and (3) the immorality of inflicting harm on others (Singer 285 Callicot 389 Zamir 16 Bernstein 7). In the previous discussion, the counter-argument towards these views which emphasizes the superiority of human beings over other species has already been shown to be unsound. A possible counter-argument which may overthrow one of the arguments against animal-based research is that which emphasizes the distinction between the metaphysical and the natural traits of animals and human beings. Although this may topple the view that animals are moral creatures, one may still posit that animals are moral creatures while recognizing this distinction.

The morality of animals remains by virtue of their association to human beings. Although one may posit that animals cannot be given the metaphysical attribute of morality, they are still affected by human beings moral decisions and as such they stand as direct recipients of our moral actions. Given that animals are the recipients of our moral actions, they continue to be moral creatures as their lives are dependent on our moral decisions.

Within this context, the use of animals in research ought to be discontinued since provides a manifestation of human beings failure to uphold their duties towards other sentient beings. This duty in itself is inherent in our moral nature. Animals as the direct recipients of our moral actions ought to be treated in such a way that recognizes their inherent value as living entities and not merely as objects to be used to further human goals.


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