The current moral status of animal experimentation (

1,523 views

Published on

  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

The current moral status of animal experimentation (

  1. 1. The Current Moral Status of Animal Experimentation (and why it matters for human-centered medical ethics)<br />Medical Ethics-Online<br />Summer 2011<br />Eli Weber-Instructor<br />
  2. 2. Lecture Goals<br />Review the history of ethical concerns regarding animal experimentation<br />Discuss the “extreme positions,” as well as the sensible middle ground.<br />Present some of the relevant contemporary considerations and discuss how this issue bears on other questions in medical ethics.<br />
  3. 3. The Fall of the Husbandry Ethic<br />Husbandry Ethic<br />Close connection between animal treatment and viability<br />“what’s good for the animals is good for us”<br />Restrictions limited to the prevention of cruelty<br />Big Ag/Big Pharma<br />Technological advances/economic developments weakened close connection<br />Cruelty laws clearly inadequate for addressing animal suffering in these contexts<br />
  4. 4. Do Animals Have Moral Status?<br />No<br />Moral status requires having qualities that no animal has (but which all humans have)<br />Reply: Any difference between animals and humans is not morally relevant. Drawing a moral line based on such a critierion is unacceptably arbitrary.<br />Yes<br />Beings count morally in virtue of their capacity to suffer, and animals can clearly suffer.<br />Animals have interests that matter to them. In virtue of this, it makes sense to talk about animals having rights.<br />
  5. 5. Might Medical Research Be Justified Anyway?<br />Yes<br />The Benefits Argument<br />Why think human benefits outweigh horrific animal suffering?<br />The Less-Valuable Lives Argument<br />Is this a form of Speciesism? <br />Denial of Rights Argument<br />Is there a problem with extending rights to a kind?<br />No<br />The Extreme View<br />Animals, like humans, have a right not to be experimented on without their consent. Since no animal is capable of consent, no animal experimentation is justified.<br />The Moderate View<br />Animals and humans should be considered equally when making moral decisions. Thus, the only animal experimentation that is legitimate is experimentation that is so important, we’d be willing to use human beings.<br />
  6. 6. The Moderate View<br />Singer version<br />If an experiment is sufficiently important that we are willing to perform it on an animal, we ought to be willing to perform it on a severely disabled orphan.<br />We are rarely willing to perform an experiment on a severely disabled orphan.<br />Therefore, an experiment is rarely sufficiently important to be performed on an animal.<br />
  7. 7. The Moderate View<br />Frey version<br />If an experiment is sufficiently important that we are willing to perform it on an animal, we ought to be willing to perform it on a severely disabled orphan.<br />We often think experiments are sufficiently important that we are willing to perform them on an animal.<br />Therefore, we ought to be willing to perform the same experiment on a severely disabled orphan. <br />
  8. 8. What Does the Moderate View Imply?<br />Singer: We should subject animals only to experimentation that is really important, and the test for whether some experiment qualifies is whether we’d be willing to do the experiment on a severely disabled orphan.<br />Frey: Given that we think animal testing is okay, we should explore the possibility of more human testing than we currently allow. <br />Weber: There is a substantial burden of proof on anyone who wants to say that animal testing is morally acceptable, but that it would be morally wrong to do similar kinds of tests on a human. <br />
  9. 9. So What?<br />Most of the remainder of the course will deal with questions about quality of life. What makes a human life worth living, and what makes it no longer worth continuing?<br />If we can answer the question of what makes human life more valuable than animal life, we can gain traction regarding how to deal with some of these human end-of-life questions. You might think that whatever makes human lives uniquely valuable, once that feature is gone, things like euthanasia or refusal of treatment are probably acceptable. <br />
  10. 10. Where Are We Now?<br />Animal testing is significantly restricted. Most experiments involving animals go through a number of institutional controls to ensure proper treatment of animals.<br />Much of the debate concerns proper care of experimental animals, as well as what sorts of procedures are not acceptable, rather than the general question of whether animal experimentation is legitimate. <br />Further concerns: rats and mice exclusion, privately funded testing, globalization, problem of animal well-being<br />
  11. 11. What’s the Point?<br />If there really is a morally relevant difference which makes all human life more valuable than any animal life, we should be able to say what that is.<br />There is a connection between how we answer this question and how we deal with end-of-life/quality of life questions in human medical care.<br />Even if we think that some animal testing is permissible, the hard questions of which experiments, what type of care, and how to regulate, monitor, and enforce still have to be dealt with. <br />

×