What Would You Do: Save a Rat or a Child?

by MELU on February 8, 2015 - 10:17pm

Animal testing in pharmaceutical industries has been an ethical issue for some time now. The debate is mainly based on the fact that should we test medical effects on animals or not. In pharmaceutical science, scientists test drugs on animals like mice, rabbits, cats, or dogs to study their side-effects and efficacy. The experiments are actually extremely important because the drugs will be later used by patients in desperate need. In laboratories, the methods of testing are very limited, animal testing is more accurate since human and animals have a lot in common. It seems to be the only means to the ends: more people are able to get treatment that they need.

For people who are against animal testing, their values are based on the equality. Animals are also living beings that deserve the same respect as human and have their own rights. These people think that the nature of animal experiment is unfair and inhumane. It violates the rights of the animals, even though the purpose is to save lives. This is called   “‘speciesism’ which is as arbitrarily unjust as racism or sexism” like Claire Andre and Manuel Velasquez mentioned in “Of Cures and Creatures Great and Small”. We put our lives over that of the animals which is completely unethical.

From another perspective, the goal is simply to find a cure to the disease. As human beings, we are advanced and intellectual creatures. It is reasonable that we put ourselves on a superior position than other living beings. We are used to manipulate and benefit from other species. We consume them and use them in many different ways, animal testing is just one of them and we have a good reason to justify our action. The reality is that we can sacrifice a rat to save a child’s life. The process may be cruel and abusive for the animals, but it is done for a meaningful ends. If we, instead of testing the medicine on animals, use it directly on patient, the consequences could be even more harmful. Or say some drugs cannot be developed without the testing on animals, and people who suffer from this disease cannot be treated. Is it ethical to watch someone dying when you know that there is a way to help him but you are not allow to do it? Normally, we feel less guilty when the victim is an animal but not one of our own kinds.

It is hard to find a defined solution for this dilemma because both sides have their valid arguments. It depends on one’s own ethical and moral values.For the animal defenders, who focus more on the process, animal testing is definitely an unethical practice. On the other hand, the scientists care more about the consequences no matter any means. If the testing can create more opportunities to save lives, then the process is negligible. Nowadays, technology in pharmaceutical science is still very limited that animal testing is needed. Therefore, let us hope that one day scientist can find other experimental methods that can replace animal testing.




Andre, Claire, and Manuel Velasquez. "Of Cures and Creatures Great and Small." Animal Testing and Ethics. Web. 9 Feb. 2015. <http://www.scu.edu/ethics/publications/iie/v1n3/cures.html>.


Your arguments are extremely convincing and nicely separated. I personally had severe acne a few years back and after using multiple products, I must say some must be better or even tested than others! By using one of the multiple drugstore acne products, I woke up one morning with extremely red skin, burned in a way. Was this specific product tested on a rat? Probably not... By not testing products before using it on humans, we are only putting humans at risks.

About the author