Animal Use in Biomedical Research: Killing In the Name of Science

by platonicorchestra on Février 8, 2015 - 11:49pm

Animal Use in Biomedical Research: Killing In the Name of Science


The use of animal test subjects has played a crucial role in the development of modern biomedical science and pharmaceutics. Animals such as mice, dogs, fish etc. are used as models instead of humans in order to better understand our complex physiology as well as the body’s basic processes, such as digestion, respiration, movement etc. Today, the use of animals in scientific or cosmetic testing is issue of an ethical debate. On one hand, research scientists argue that it is an essential part of scientific research, while on the other hand animal rights activists claim that it is an inhumane, cruel act of murder.

            Although the exact number is unknown, it is estimated that millions of animals, including a majority of rats, are being used in laboratories in order to advance scientific research. Some treatments that were developed using animal test subjects include the polio vaccine and the discovery of insulin, which ultimately helped save millions of lives. Some argue about the cruelty of the testing, since many of the animals die as a result of painful and “inhumane” methods. To combat against animal testing, many animal rights groups such as the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PeTA) vehemently protest against it, arguing from a deontological ethical point of view: if an action does not adhere to the categorical imperatives which all people should follow, it is deemed unethical (Merrill 11). They reason that any form of murder is immoral, so animal testing is also unethical, especially because they believe that animals should have equal rights as humans. However, scientists reply that there are no other alternatives to animal testing, and claim it is a necessary evil for scientific development. Thus they speak from a utilitarian standpoint: the end would justify the means if the end were the greatest happiness for the greatest number (Merrill 21). If animal testing results in treatments that can save millions of people in the long term future, it is deemed that the animals’ deaths are a necessary sacrifice to push human society to a higher level. Even though both sides of the debate try to come up with alternative methods to animal testing, there does not seem to be an adequate one. Studying with petri dishes or computer simulations simply do not provide enough information on how a treatment could act on all of the body’s interrelated processes including the endocrine system, the nervous system, etc.

            Thus, it seems that animal testing is a necessary evil for the development of science, unless an equally efficient method can be developed in the future. For now, the challenge lies in creating a balance between scientific research and animal rights. All testing should proceed in a regulated environment using humane methods, in order to minimize animal cruelty and maximize the results obtained from their sacrifices. Therefore, for the time being, killing in the name of science might be necessary to further advance humanity.



Work Cited

"Why Animals Are Used." Animal Research: The Global Resource For Scientific Evidence in Animal Resesarch. Web. 02 Feb. 2015.

Merril, John. "Overview: Theoretical Foundations for Media Ethics." Controversies in Media Ethics. 3rd ed. New York: Routledge, 2011. 3-32. Print.