Ethics of Animal Testing for Medical Purposes

Topics: Animal rights, Animal testing, Tom Regan Pages: 7 (2751 words) Published: October 10, 2012
Animal Testing for Medical Purposes, is it Ethically Correct?
This paper will discuss animal testing for medical purposes. It will begin by defining the process of animal testing and go through some of its history. It will discuss whether the testing of animals for medical purposes is just or unjust and evaluate which types of testing are ethically acceptable and which are not from a Utilitarian and Kantian viewpoint. It will conclude with evaluations of the different standpoints and state why I believe it is just and ethically acceptable to use animals for medical research.

The subject of animal testing for medical research has been a topic of argument for decades now. With valid points for either side of the argument, it is certainly understandable as to why this has yet to be settled. Some questions everyone is still faced with today are, is animal testing for medical purposes right and ethical? Which types of testing are ethical? What would modern medicine be like today if we had not used animals for medical testing in the first place? All of these questions present strong arguments when answered, and will be addressed throughout this paper. With modern medicine as advanced as it is today, many argue that medical testing on animals should be conducted to make medical advances, while others argue it should not be done; This paper will address and evaluate all of the pros and cons of each side of the argument from a Utilitarian and Kantian viewpoint, proving in the end that animal testing was and still is very necessary for medical purposes.

Defining animal testing for medical purposes is very important to be able to understand and critically analyze the argument of whether it is just or not. To define animal research simply, it is the procedure in which researchers in laboratories use animals as controlled subjects to test different drugs, surgeries, and other such things. Animals are used because although they are clearly not identical to human beings, but certain animals share many anatomical and physiological similarities, which allow researchers to perform tests on them before they expose it to a human being. A range of different animals has been used in the past for testing; rats, mice, monkeys, and pigs to name a few. “Each year, more than 100 million animals—including mice, rats, frogs, dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, monkeys, fish, and birds—are killed in U.S. laboratories for chemical, drug, food, and cosmetics testing” (Collins). Some of the animals are given anesthetics to numb the pain; others are put to sleep, while others do undergo painful procedures without any sort of pain relief. There are certain laws for different countries, this one is from the Northwest Association for Biomedical Research “These requirements are sometimes summarized as the 3R's: 1. Reduction-using the minimum number of animals necessary. 2. Refinement-enhancing animal welfare and ensuring the best conditions possible. 3. Replacement-using other models when appropriate” (Rules and Regulation). The use of animals for research began in early Roman times. To learn about swallowing, ancient physicians cut open the throat of a living pig. To study the heart they cut into its chest. For centuries, physicians and researchers used animals to increase their knowledge about how the organs and systems of the body worked, as well as to improve their surgical skills (Llyod). However, it wasn’t until around the time of the American Revolution that testing on animals rather than on humans became more common, and thus more controversial. As a result of these tests on animals, scientists have been able to control diabetes, test the effectiveness of certain pain killers, discover different cancer-causing properties of certain substances, along with numerous other incredible advances (Mackinnon, pg. 203). While there is factual evidence about how animal research has been so beneficial to the medical world, many people argue that it...

Cited: Barbra, Mackinnon. Ethics Theory and Contemporary Issues. Concise Edition. Boston, MA: 203-215. Print.
Emma Lloyd. “Animal Experimentation: History.” Nov 23, 2008.
Francis S. Collins, M. “Animal Experiments: Overview.” 2010.
Neale, Greg . "Peter Singer: Monkey business." The Independent. N.p., 03/12/2006. Web. 3 May 2011. <>.
"Rules and Regulations." Northwest Association for Biomedical Research. N.p., 2008. Web. 30 April 2011. <>.
Singer, Peter. "The Animal Liberation Movement." Old Hammond Press, 19 Hungerhill Road, St Anns, Nottingham, England, 1985. Web. 3 May 2011. <>.
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