Vivisection: Animal Experimentation

Topics: Animal, Animal testing, Science Pages: 5 (1511 words) Published: October 8, 1999

Many people today, including scientists and doctors, are questioning the suffering and killing of animals for the sake of human beings. Is it morally correct to dissect a frog or a worm for the purpose of educating a high school student? On the other hand, must "We study life to protect life" (1:131) The issue of killing animals for the use of biomedical research, education, and cosmetics can be referred as "vivisection". Twenty-five to thirty-five million animals are spared in the U.S.A. each year for the purpose of research, testing, and education. Although vivisection serves as an important tool for scientists and doctors to work in research and may benefit humans, the harms indeed outweigh the benefits.

Animal experimentation was not common until the early nineteenth century and emerged as an important method of science. The first recorded action of vivisection was the study of body humors by Erasistratus in Alexandria during the third century (1:3). Later, in A.D. 129-200, the physician, Galen, used five pigs to investigate the effects of several nerves (1:4). He is considered to be the founder of experimental physiology. During the Renaissance Era, Andreas Vesalius conducted experiments on monkeys, swine, and goats (1:3). By the late eighteenth century, the methods of scientific discovery were changer to experimentation of live animals by two French physiologists, Claude Bernard and Francious Magnedie. They revolutionized methods of scientific discovery by establishing live animal as common practice (1:4). Claude Bernard believed that in order for medicine to progress, there must be experimental research, and affirmed that "vivisection is indispensable for physical research". This is when the anti-vivisection movement was established ("vivisection").

There are different views as to why or why not there should be animal experimentation. For example, Descartes believed that animals are incapable of feeling pain. He said "The greatest of all the prejudices we have retained from our infancy is that of believing that beasts think" (1:4). In other words, Descartes believes that animals have no sensations. Singer argues and thinks that animals have feelings, desires, and preferences. He observed that stimuli that cause pain to humans, such as hitting and burning, cause pain to animals (1:25). Singer ‘s position is that equal harms should be counted equally and not downgraded for animals. However, he does not say that humans and animals have an equal moral status, for he believes that "humans are superior to their fellow animals by virtue of God-given soul" (12:37). Regan, another opposer to Descarte's view, feels that animals do feel pain and have desires as well. He believes that animals are "Subjects of a life just as human beings are and a subject of a life have inherent values" (1:26). He also feels that animals should not be tested for toxic substances, instead one should use cell tissue cultures (5:26).

The people who favor animal experimentation feel that research is for the purpose of humans. Research is a cultural value to acquire knowledge for knowledge's sake. In other words, the means justifies the end if the end benefits society. (4:62). They also believe that humans are superior to all other creatures (1:28). Research is for biomedical purposes; 1) to add scientific understanding of basic biological behavior, functions, and processes 2) to improve human or animal health by studying the natural history of the disease (1:22). Henry Foster, the founder of Charles River Breeding Laborator, said that "the use of animals in experiments is all for the benefit of mankind. If you don't use animals you don't do research!" (2:45).

Most of the times by doing research one performs tests on animals. For example, rabbits are locked in a chamber and forced to inhale grass, sprays, and vapors. In dermal toxicity studies, rabbits have their fur removed to have substances placed on their skin. In this...
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