Stopping Animal Testing: Why Humanity Would Be Better Off (Part I)

color-rat-399706_640Animal testing is one of the most controversial and misjudged of all animal rights issues. Since the medical and scientific benefit to human is so great, opposing animal experimentation is regarded as heresy, as though one doesn’t care about human suffering.

As it turns out, dropping animal testing as a practice could not only clear society’s conscience, but consumer safety and scientific progress may potentially be better off without it.

Animal testing is one of the darkest ways in which we exploit animals. It is the reduction of individuals into objects – objects to be used for the benefit of the dominant species.

This is a tremendous abuse of power – we mutilate, weaken and kill innocent beings to further our own species’ longevity. If someone said that you can prosper, but to do so you must take advantage of, and physically main and mentally injure another, we would say no, that is unethical.

But don’t you care about human suffering?

Opposition to animal experimentation is quickly reduced to this simple, narrow argument: “Stopping animal testing would hinder the development of medicine and science, which would harm humanity considerably.”

This line of thinking misses the big picture. Animal rights advocates recognise that no matter how desperately we want human medicine to advance, no matter how much we want to reduce human suffering, there is a moral limit to the methods we use to achieve this. Those who believe that other animals deserve not to be tormented and suffer in the name of medical progress care just as much about human suffering, however they recognise that the moral cost of animal experimentation is too high a price to pay. We cannot choose to ignore the injustice and harm caused to animals who are imprisoned and sacrificed on our behalf, just because we happen to benefit.

Misunderstanding the Issue

The issue of animal testing is often misrepresented through some form of the following question:

“Is a human life not worth more than a (non-human) animal’s life?”

This question is dangerously misleading as it reduces the entire issue of animal testing to a simplistic dichotomy of human vs other, automatically sidestepping the issue of animal rights. Rather that attempting to quantify the value of a life of one species relative to another, it is better to consider the morality of the deed itself.

An animal’s right to not be used as property trumps all other considerations. If we are suggesting that if a great enough reward was gained, it would be permissible to commit moral crimes, then by that reckoning theft or even murder would be tolerable if you stood to gain “enough.”

Lessons in Morality

If one was to steal $1 000 000 and then proceed to donate it to charity, does that morally excuse the theft?

Let’s try a more ridiculous case. If eating babies enabled you to live to be 1000, would that make it okay? If the end benefit is so great, are the means justified? Even if those means are deeply deplorable?

What about torturing and subjecting fellow conscious, sentient beings to prolong your own life?

Animal testing teaches us that if the reward is considered great enough by the more powerful party, they are permitted to exploit the weaker party, no matter how extreme and barbaric the exploitation is.

We pay for our increases in medical knowledge with the torturous exploitation of hundreds of millions of animal beings. We reduce fellow animals into mere tools, which is a gross breach of individual liberty. This is ethically reprehensible, yet most of us are oblivious to the significance of this. It is haunting to consider that – as a society – we are seemingly comfortable with inflicting colossal amounts of pain and suffering onto hundreds of millions of animal beings each year, justified by our own sense of self-importance.

Ending Animal Testing in Medical Research

There are various areas in which animal testing is unnecessary or of highly limited use. Ending cosmetic testing on animals, as well as the pointless experiments satisfying scientific curiosities, face little opposition. Animals suffering and dying for our vanity and curiosity, almost all would agree, is unnecessary.

When it comes to medical research though, the moral line becomes harder to distinguish for most people.  Since the rewards of violating animal rights become greater, people find it more difficult to acknowledge the moral wrong in using animals for medical research. Cosmetics and scientific curiosity are easy to dismiss as justifications, yet when human suffering and medical gain are entered into the equation, we hesitate in condemning the abuse.

Part II will explore the obstacles to abolishing animal experimentation, as well as taking a look at the alternatives in development.

5 thoughts on “Stopping Animal Testing: Why Humanity Would Be Better Off (Part I)

  1. An excellent article highlighting an area of animal abuse most of us tend to ignore or justify. I agree there can be no justification for using animals in this way. Such experiments are never conclusive, many medications once approved after tests that have resulted in unimaginable suffering for animals are often later found to have some unexpected and dangerous side effects, the most obvious example being Thalidomide. I think if we humans want to take medication, we should do so at our own risk without involving the use of animals. Experiments on animals is to my mind extremely unethical and not worthy of any modern society. Animals have their own lives which are as important to them as ours are to us and it is time we respected that fact.

    Like

    • I very much agree.

      It’s unfair that other species foot the bill for medical research that benefits our species; they pay for us, with their lives. Why should they be abused and killed on our behalf?

      Animal testing is a blemish on modern society – one that outwardly preaches compassion and justice, yet inwardly ignores it when convenient or profitable. Sadly, animal exploitation, and many other social issues, are not handled in a manner consistent with our morals.

      Like

  2. As you know, animal testing is only a small part of the problem, and it’s not only used for medical and scientific research. It’s used to test everything from cosmetics to cleansers.

    A friend of mine wanted to get out of stocks whose companies used animal testing. Her stock broker told her it was way too complicated, so she gave up the effort. I believe people can make strong statements by identifying the worst case corporations and calling for massive sell-off of their stocks.

    Whether these new patented medications are worth more than the cost of the patents and FDA approvals process is doubtful, at least to me. We haven’t seen any truly innovative medications in a long time, and these are usually plant-derived. Early man learned what to eat and what to avoid by watching animals in their natural habitats. To me this is true scientific research. Lab experimentation sets up such an artificial environment that any results are suspicious.

    Like

    • Hi Katherine, has your friend managed to sell their stocks yet? Any idea what the broker meant by “way too complicated?” Should they not have complied with your friend’s request?

      Great point about the power of boycotts. Voting with your dollars is a good way to get companies to take notice. When their profits are adequately threatened, they are more willing to compromise.

      Liked by 1 person

      • She gave up on the idea, and I didn’t push it. Like many people my age, Boomers, she has invested too much for too long in Wall Street to get out easily. She is considering taking some money out to buy farmland, though.

        Like

Agree? Disagree? Got something to add? Please share your thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s