animal experimentation - PHL116 Bioethics Ethics of Animal...

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PHL116 Bioethics Ethics of Animal Experimentation 05.20.028 Introduction No one would likely doubt that the use of animals in experimentation is essential for finding cures for a vast number of diseases that afflict human beings (e.g., cancer, diabetes, heart disease, AIDS). Ethicists typically fall on one or the other side of the line on the use of animals in biomedical research. Some think that it is morally acceptable to procure animals for the purpose of biomedical research, because we gain essential information for the welfare of human beings. Such ethicists place the value of human life above that of “lower” animals (like apes, dogs, rats, cats, sea slugs). [And let’s not forget the use of animals in commercial research, to prevent negative consequences for human beings.] Other ethicists claim that to value human life at a higher price than animal life and to use that as a justification for sacrificing animals for biomedical research is a form of speciesism (Singer), essentially, putting one species above another (or all the others, as it were). Typically, ethicists who are for the use of animals in biomedical research argue about what kinds of features a species must have in order to qualify as having rights like those we ascribe to human beings. But in this debate, we must take into consideration that there is a whole host of animal research that goes on with the aim of increasing human knowledge about, for example, the brain, learning and memory, digestion, etc., that may not be in any interesting way considered biomedical research. What about the use of animals in these kinds of experiments? Given that humans may derive little benefit from the knowledge gained, at least in terms of direct utilitarian benefits, can the use of animals in such research be considered on a par with their use in traditional biomedical research? Is it less ethical? There are additional issues as well, concerns about what can really be gained from studying a disease in a species in a highly controlled environment and extrapolating useful information for understanding that disease in a “more complex” species in a completely uncontrolled environment. So there may even be worries that animal research of any form will be severely limited, and it would be better to investigate with human species. And this is in part the line that Singer takes. 1. Peter Singer, “Animal Experimentation” 1990 Singer is an Australian and is currently a Professor at Princeton University. When he was hired in 1998, there were protests given his extreme stance on the use of animal in experimentation. He has been an outspoken member of the animal liberation movement, as a utilitarian liberationist, who argues, on utilitarian grounds that 1
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because animals can experience suffering, their suffering must be taken into account in any moral philosophy. To exclude animals from that consideration, he argues, is a form of discrimination called “speciesism”. The article:
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This note was uploaded on 06/15/2011 for the course PHL 116 taught by Professor Sullivan during the Fall '09 term at University of Alabama at Birmingham.

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animal experimentation - PHL116 Bioethics Ethics of Animal...

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