Animal Experimentation: Unethical According to Utilitarianism

Topics: Animal rights, Animal testing, Ethics Pages: 6 (2038 words) Published: October 10, 2011
Animal Experimentation: Unethical According to Utilitarianism Introduction:
One of the most debated ethical issues is Animal Rights. Animals are so much a part of our lives and world that it is impossible to ignore the ethical issues we are faced with pertaining to the treatment of animals. What is difficult about these issues is that although animals have many similar attributes as humans they lack the developed brain function that humans have. Although many animals can feel pain, experience happiness, even form attachment, they are not able to speak for themselves and so humans take charge of their fate. A highly debated topic within the focus of Animal Rights is the morality of Animal Experimentation and under what circumstances, if any, it is morally permitted. In order to address this issue there are two questions that must be answered. The first is, whether or not animals have intrinsic value. The second being, if they are have intrinsic value, in compliance to Utilitarianism is the experimentation producing more harm than good. Assuming that the answer to both questions is yes then aaccording to utilitarianism, because animals have intrinsic value it is unethical to practice animal experimentation. Background information:

Before delving into the morality of animal testing it is important to understand what animal testing entails. Recent United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) statistics list a total of 1,136,841 (a one-year increase of 7%) primates, dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, and other species as being subjected to experimental procedures. The species by species listings include: 72,037 dogs, 69,990 primates, 65,615 pigs, 236,511 rabbits, 22,687 cats,172,498 hamsters, 31,106 other farm animals, 13,240 sheep,136,509 other animals and 207,257 guinea pigs. There are thousands of different types of animal testing. Two examples of animal testing are Xenotransplantation and Toxicology testing. Xenotransplantation is used to deal with the shortange of human organs for organ transplantation. It involves transplanting organs from one species to another. Currently many tests are done using primates as the recipients of organs from pigs that have been genetically-modified to reduce the primates' immune response against the pig tissue. Toxicology testing, also known as safety testing, is conducted by pharmaceutical companies testing drugs. According to 2005 EU figures, around one million animals are used every year in Europe in toxicology tests; which are about 10% of all procedures. According to Nature, 5,000 animals are used for each chemical being tested, with 12,000 needed to test pesticides. Many times animals are used in psychological experiments. In these experiments animals are put under stressful situations where they are forced to react in a certain way due to an out side stimulus. In many cases the stimulus is an electric shock given to the animal and depending on the goal of the experiment, forces the animal to react in different ways. It is easy to think about animal experimentation in an emotional way. It is never easy to see an animal suffer in pain. Many oraganizations such as PETA use the emotional side to create an argument against using animals for experimentation. While this may be an effective way to tug the heart strings of others, it does not put forward actual ethical theories that prove that animal experimentation is unethical. Therefore by using intrinsic value and utilitarianism one comes to the same conclusion: animal testing is not ethical. Intrinsic Value is often thought to be at the heart of many ethical dilemmas. Many ethical questions generally come down to whether or not an agent has intrinsic value instrumental value. Instrumental value means that something is only valuable because of its use. For example, a pen is only valuable because it enables us to write. To have intrinsic value means to have value because of what the agent is itself, in its own...
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