Animal Experimentation: a Necessary Evil

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Animal Experimentation: A Necessary Evil

It is time for society to realize that no one benefits from the suffering of animals used in expensive and useless experiments. Animals may not be able to speak like humans but it does not negate the fact that they are capable of suffering. The human species has taken the liberty of deciding what is valuable in the world, and therefore they prize themselves as the highest level of the food chain. The human species has used animals for transportation, food and companionship since the dawn of time. Animals are at the mercy of humans and sadly, they are also very trusting of humans. Humans abuse this trust and have subjected these defenseless animals to their exploratory experiments. The benefits of this exploratory research do not outweigh the suffering that these powerless animals have encountered since the beginning of time. Or do they? Is it not human nature to value life, the lives of children, loved ones, family and friends? Is it not the suffering of these individuals which should be avoided? Is it not these individuals that should be protected? While defenseless animals should be protected against humans, animal experimentation is necessary to continue advancing medicine because research produces important scientific developments which save lives.

The use of animals in research for the advancement of science and understanding of humankind is not a practice developed in contemporary society. Documented animal use is rooted in ancient Greece with Hippocrates and Aristotle (Baumans, 2004). Experimental research using animals parallels the birth and development of medicine. Both Hippocrates and Aristotle expressed their knowledge on structure and function in Historia Animalium and Corpus Hippocraticum based on their experience with dissection of animals (Baumans, 2004). These texts are timeless and contain an immense quantity of information. The details captured in these volumes are irreplaceable. Aristotle captured information on the individual organs of dozens of mammals, amphibians, primates, birds, reptiles and crustaceans. He also studied the form and function of everything he examined to gain an understanding and compare each creature. Hippocrates compiled approximately 70 volumes of work which can be separated into six larger categories within the Corpus Hippocraticum. The Handbooks make up over half of the entire Corpus Hippocraticum and cover the areas of surgery, internal medicine and gynecology (Weissenrieder, 2003). Animal experimentation contributed to the discoveries and theories documented in this body of work. The text and details are so precise and accurate in the Corpus Hippocraticum that even three-thousand years later, the Corpus Hippocraticum is still highly regarded in medical and scientific community. Even Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, retained a physician that performed animal experiments for purposes of research. “Galen (130-201 AD)…performed physiological experiments on pigs, monkeys and dogs” (Baumans, 2004, para.1). Galen was not a brutal butcher experimenting on animals. The root of his research was based on observation and reasoning. Galen performed early physiological experiments that explored kidney function and the spinal cord in controlled research. The research he performed became the basis of medical practices for centuries thereafter (Baumans, 2004). Even though Hippocrates, Aristotle, and Galen laid the foundation of structure and function, contemporary animal experimentation uses this foundation to explore the effects of medication, medical procedures, diseased cells, toxins and foreign substances on live tissue and organs of live animal subjects.

The critics of animal experimentation focus on the ethical dilemma of whether or not man has a right to use animals in experiments. Descartes believed animals could not think and were more like machines. In opposition, Bentham argued that it was not a matter of animals thinking, but...
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