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Medical Experiments on Animals Should be Banned Across the EU

Animal tests are considered a vital stage in the drug testing process and must be carried out to ascertain safety prior to tests on humans. At present they are highly regulated. Each individual project must be licensed and demonstrate that they are minimising suffering wherever possible. But is this enough? Can medical tests on animals ever be justified?

Medical Experiments on Animals Should be Banned Across the EU

Yes because... No because...

Speciesism

What grounds do we have to distinguish non-human animals from humans? The only real distinction is mental capacity, because humans are the only self aware animals. But this is not adequate grounds to justify carrying out animal tests, because the capacity to suffer pain is not based on intelligence. It is merely about the possession of a central nervous system. If two beings have an equal capacity to suffer pain then it is entirely arbitrary to cite their differing mental capacities as reason to hurt one and not the other. If mental capacity was really our distinction then people would have no problem with regarding a baby or someone with severe brain damage as suitable test subjects. But the fact that this is not the case shows that it is pure sentiment that makes the distinction. Once we have shown that this distinction is not valid then we must be willing to test on any animal including humans, or non at all.

Rights are a social construct, an agreement between members of a society (see below). Babies and the mentally disabled are members of society so we grant them rights. Animals are not, so we have no obligation to do so.

By the argument for it would also be true to say that preventing animals from voting in the European elections or holding them captive even though they have committed no crime is speciesism. We should also hold all animals regardless of species responsible for their actions, including the murder, rape or burglaries that they commit.

Medical Experiments on Animals Should be Banned Across the EU

Yes because... No because...

Rights

We have conceded that animals deserve some consideration by trying to minimise their suffering during the testing process. This shows that we accord them some rights, namely the right not to be excessively harmed. But in medical tests we routinely deny animals the right to life because all test subjects are destroyed afterwards. This is morally inconsistent because without the right to life, no other rights can be exercised. Being alive facilitates the animal’s ability to benefit from the rights we grant it. So if we maintain that animals do in fact have some rights, then denying them the right from which all others stem is morally abhorrent.

We try to minimise the suffering off animals in the testing process not because they have rights, but because we are sentimental. We have a tendency to anthropomorphise animals, to imagine that they are like us. This is not however true, and we have no obligation to take their rights into account.

Providing animals withe the right to life is an unreasonable suggestion. Would cattle then have a right not to be slaughtered for the table? Would chickens have the right to breed freely preventing us form using their eggs as a foodstuff?

Animals have no rights under law quite rightly but are accorded some honorary rights by the anthropomorphises described above.

Medical Experiments on Animals Should be Banned Across the EU

Yes because... No because...

Alternatives

Animal testing is regarded as a safeguard before drugs are tested on humans, but because of the physiological differences between humans and animals there is no guarantee that drugs will have the same effect. Other methods such as computer modelling, stem line testing and low concentration testing on healthy humans serve the same purpose and are more accurate because the biology of a human cell is different to that of an animal one.

Many years of research have proven the link(s) that exist between animal testing and eventual human trials. The types of animals chosen for testing on are used because in the area of testing they have enough similarity with human characteristics to demonstrate reasonably accurately whether the drugs in test will be harmful or beneficial to the human patient.

To suggest that stem line modeling which usually involves the use of human embryos as source material is a preferable course of action to animal testing is to suggest that the human fetus has less rights than a guinea pig or laboratory rat.

Computer modeling can only take into account that which is known. Computers are not capable of guessing or establishing information that is not programmed into them. The ability to test new biological and chemical compounds on living tissue before construction of computer models and human trials is vital to the fast and safe development of medical science.

Low concentration testing on healthy humans can be used in some cases (where prior testing has been carried out) to ensure the safety or measure the side effects of new treatments however it will not usually prove whether a suggested treatment will cure or prevent the illness it is being developed for. Preventing this very basic testing of a new tratment will waste considerable financial and laboratory time resource which could otherwise be spent on improving our general health or researching other treatments.

Medical Experiments on Animals Should be Banned Across the EU

Yes because... No because...

Rights are a Social Construct

There is no such thing as an inalienable right. Rights are just agreements between individuals within societies which make that society a better place to live in. For example if the member of a society decide that everyone has the right to life, they you can live safe in the knowledge that no-one is going to kill you. Rights are a convenient construct for social harmony, but nothing more. Animals do not make these kinds of agreements, because they do not have the concept of a mutually beneficial society so cannot buy into our society. Because they are not social actors they do not have social rights. We grant animals some rights for sentimental reasons but have no obligation to do so. This means we do not need to take their rights into account when doing animal testing.

Medical Experiments on Animals Should be Banned Across the EU

Yes because... No because...

Lesser of 2 Evils

Medical testing on animals has produced some of the most useful drugs known to mankind, saving countless lives. This means sacrificing some animals for potentially huge amounts of benefit for the people who will be taking the drugs. Without these drugs some patients will go through huge amounts of suffering before dying. Even if we did accept that animals had rights, this is clearly worse than an animal having a short period of suffering followed by death.

Debates > Medical Experiments on Animals Should be Banned Across the EU
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