Animal Experimentation: Consent or Forbid?
Throughout the advancement of human medicine, animal experimentation has been the remaining choice to discover options to improve and extend human life. Consequently, the result of animal testing led to deaths of million laboratory animals before a successful discovery and expected outcome surfaced. Issue arises on animal rights violation because of the exposure of animals to pain and diversion from its natural environment and lifestyle because of confinement in the laboratory. These animal rights advocates believe that same as humans, animals have also basic rights (Reynnells & Eastwood, 1997). These are freedoms from confinement, suffering, confinement, and death due to consumption as foods (Reynnells & Eastwood, 1997). Thus, they are against the use of animals in experimentation because such would impede these freedoms, therefore, invades the animals’ rights.
Amidst this issues raised by animal rights activists, researchers doing these animal experimentations believe that the only way to really tell that scientific innovations will interact with a living is to test it on a living being, that is, the animal. Since human life is considered more precious and critical, the only alternative from human testing is animal testing as seen through decades of scientific studies. There is also a rational and coherent fervor that animals are available for human existence’ reasonable use.
Jerod Loeb: “Human vs. Animal Rights: In Defense of Animal Research”.
In Carol Levine’s “Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Bioethical Issues” book which is a compilation of bioethical issues, Jerod Loeb represented the American Medical Association (AMA) and wrote an essay entitled “Human vs. Animal Rights: In Defense of Animal Research”. Loeb avows that the raised concern for animals is commendable itself, but the developmental methods to uplift the human welfare cannot be encumbered. Therefore, he believes that using of animals for experimentations on the human medical aspects is essential because the need to improve the human well being can never be denied anywhere.
Unlike Machan’s, his argument was presented and explained but unnecessarily gashing the opposing side. Loeb, though recognizing the responsibility of humans to nature which includes animals, believed that we have a greater responsibility in this world for the betterment of humanity.
Tibor R. Machan: “Do Animals Have Rights?”
In Tibor R. Machan essay entitled “Do Animals Have Rights?” under James Rachels’ “The Right Thing To Do: Basic Readings in Moral Philosophy” book, the writer’s argument is that animals do not have rights unlike humans because rights come from the gift and competency to make moral choices, thus, animals cannot have rights. He emphasized that only humans are moral mediators in this world in view of the fact that they alone need moral free will. This moral space is the subject of moral authority wherein the human authority to do something is esteemed, valued, and protected.
Machan considers humans are more vital than other animals, and that survival in this world may necessitate studies on and through animals. He defended that we are not claiming, as humans, to be uniquely important. This is supported by the fact that since we cannot claim such significance, we cannot assign any worth or significance level to animals. In nature, each species has unique features, hence, different importance and purpose.
According to Machan, what made humans differ from other species is on the moral category. The human actions are dictated and judged on what is right and wrong. This moral category entitles humans to have a moral task to thrive as human beings. This task demands knowledge searching to learn further, which usually involves animals especially in the medical field. As he claims, in an animal race, there is no concept of moral responsibility among them, therefore there is no basis for rights. In humans, our moral responsibility gave us the rights to life, liberty, and property since these are fundamentals in our moral actions. It also declares our lucid unique jurisdiction.
Tom Regan: “Should Animal Experimentation be Permitted?”
Contrastingly, in Tom Regan’s essay “Should Animal Experimentation be Permitted?” in Carol Levine’s “Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Bioethical Issues” book, he disagree the use of animals for researches. He initially presented humans to agree having moral rights and at the same time, disagree on what these rights are. But still, most of the people acts in ways that respect other human’s rights.
He posed a challenge that what humans can freely do when someone violates his rights does not mean having the freedom to violate other’s rights without a justifiable reason. Therefore, humans have rights to bodily integrity and to life. Supposedly the animal have these rights, the way it is treated in farms and biomedical research shows violations of its rights, hence, is wrong. If these are wrong then it should be stopped, regardless how much the humanity had been benefited from these in the past or how much the humanity would be benefited in the future. He then argued that if humans have rights, more essentially, animals have also rights after critical examination of existing moral theories humans themselves formulated that provided them the acknowledgment of their rights. He concluded that it is through this that we can also acknowledge animal rights.
Peter Singer: “All Animals are Equal”
The argument of Regan is further sustained in Peter Singer’s “All Animals are Equal” in James Rachels’ “The Right Thing to Do: Basic Readings in Moral Philosophy” book. Singer based his argument against using of animals for experimentations through the concept of equality. Citing humans’ conviction to be equal regardless of race, creed, and sex, he also added humans still differ in moral capabilities, intellectual abilities, and compassionate sentiments to his fellow humans.
Equality was further defined on the basis of interest aside from physical appearance and was considered a basic moral principle (“Animal Rights,”). He stressed that if a being suffers then this is not morally justified. Despite of any living’s nature, if we say equality to suffering means capacity to experience suffering. If it is not capable, then there is nothing to be taken into account. Singer made this a defining boundary on concern of interests to others. Therefore, the capacity to enjoy life is an equality to enjoy life, which all humans exercise, by all animals. As animals have emotions and desires, then they are capable to enjoy life. Singer emphasized that animal liberation is founded on maximizing sentient interest (“Animal Rights,”).
In an individual perspective, though I am not considering animals as less to humans, each being is created towards a purpose. As humans, our ultimate purpose is to direct nature wherein animals are provided to us as tools towards that purpose. The question then from the arguments raised by the writers who oppose using animals for researches is, “Why humans have to be concerned?” and “Why humans have to be bothered when using animals for such researches?”
From the beginning, humans are already entitled the responsibility to “…fill the earth and subdue it, and rule over all the living creatures that move on the earth.” This then give us an understanding of a God-given right of our responsibility to His creatures, but that is toward good. If we kill an animal for fun, therefore, it is morally and spiritually wrong. But if we kill animal for medical scientific experiment or had died because of a cancer study for a noble cause, that is, for human benefit.
We have taken a life for our benefit but since the beginning, humans have taken stuffs from animal and even plants for survival and similarly, animals have taken stuffs to fellow animals to survive. Thus, it is morally and acceptable to take an animal life if for a noble cause and benefit, than of our kind because as created morally upright, that would be spiritually and morally wrong.
It should then be acceptable to use living beings to further human progress, thus, these researches are justified as long it is done morally that is humanely and respectfully. Such action of being humane and respectful is our human nature that made us higher in the moral category than animals. Machan’s and Loeb’s claim that animals do not have rights therefore is correct, since moral capacity permitted us to practice our rights. But it is our responsibility to recognize and give their welfare, which I personally believe and identify.
Singer and Regan should have recognized the animal welfare practiced by the scientific community and the government to be fair on both species. It is a known fact that progress is an inevitable and uncontrollable part of human existence (Gruenbaum, 2001). It is our constant fight for survival on this earth against the natural law and of our own species. This survival awareness pushes humans to utilize any resources and maximize it, and that includes animals.
The concept of equality by Singer is controversial itself because in the human accepted wisdom, having equal rights come equal responsibility. Fair enough, this notion is not imposed by humans to the animal population if given the chance as it is impossible. Through the years, new systems have reduced use of animals in experiments, but it will never be eliminated totally unless humanity can find the best alternative.
In such instances, the good of the many must come before the good of the few or the one. According to Scott Gruenbam, animal testing has brought the human race many advances in the area of medicine and technology, but with dreadful costs. As Scott Gruenbam pointed out, in this changing world where necessity is now being considered more important than morality is to have consideration and judgment in what is really important for survival (Gruenbaum, 2001).
Animal Rights. Retrieved February 11, 2007, from http://www.peta.org/animalliberation/pdfs/liberationguide.pdf
Gruenbaum, S. (2001). Pawns to Advancement: Miami University
Reynnells, R. D., & Eastwood, B. R. (1997). Animal Welfare Issues Compendium. Retrieved February 11, 2007, from http://www.nal.usda.gov/awic/pubs/97issues.htm