Examine and consider religious and ethical responses to animal experimentation
One philosopher that strongly is against animal testing is Peter Singer; he became involved after studying the work of Jeremy Bentham. He is most famously known for his book named animal liberation which states that The Institute of national health spent over $11 million on experiments that involved direct manipulation of the brain, over $5 million on experiments that studied the effects drugs have on behaviour, almost $3 million on learning and memory experiments, and over $2 million on experiments involving sleep deprivation, stress, fear, and anxiety.
This government agency spent more than $30 million dollars on animal experiments in one year. This surely arises the question of how can these things happen? How can people who are not sadists spend their working days driving monkeys into lifelong depression, heating dogs to death, or turning cats into drug addicts? How can they then remove their white coats, wash their hands, and go home to dinner with their families? How can taxpayers allow their money to be used to support these experiments? (Singer, 1975). The simple answer to this question is we tolerate cruelties inflicted on members of other species that would outrage us if performed on members of our own species
Jeremy Bentham also shares similar view on animal testing as Singer, Bentham is regarded to many as the first major scholar of animal testing and argued that the pain that animals feel is similar to the pain we as humans feel. He also argued that the ability to suffer and not the ability to reason should be the criteria we look at when deciding animal testing is right or wrong, if the ability to reason was the criteria used than the humans who had the best reasoning then many humans would still be slaves. Of course this now is rejected by society however they still feel it is morally correct to treat animals as ‘things’. Bentham holds the view that instead of treating animals differently because of the lack of reasoning we should treat them similar to us as they have similar pain and pleasure levels. (Bentham, 2005)
However in contrast to the views of Bentham and Singer many people feel that animal testing is the right way forward as it provides many benefits for the human race. Most medical advances such as vaccines against diseases like rabies, polio, measles, mumps, rubella and TB and antibiotics for HIV drugs, insulin and cancer treatments rely on animal tests.
This is mainly because other testing methods aren’t advanced enough. Scientists claim there are no differences in lab animals and humans that cannot be factored into tests; this means that the results are going to be relevant and much clearer than any other alternative method of testing. Also Operations on animals helped to develop organ transplant and open-heart surgery techniques, however this would only make animal experimentation right if you believed that animals were less important than human life which arises the issue of Charles Dawkins theory of evolution which states that species develop over a period of time from a common origin, in this case mans origin evolved from Apes, however many Apes are still used for animal testing.
Something to think about is why we as a society are actually conducting animal experimentation. Some may say that it is being conducted because drugs are needed because of a health problem and science through animal experimentation can provide drugs to make people healthier, this is seen as the scientific reductionist approach and was mainly developed by Descartes + Bacon who were two western philosophers.
However there is another way to look at it is to concentrate on the health problems and see what else can be done about it, the majority of the time this is due to political ills. For example it is apparent that Malaria has been eradicated from most of Europe; however it is still a major problem in African and Asian countries. The cure for the eradication in Europe was due to improved sanitation, better diets and cleaning marshes and other habitats for the malaria virus. However we still see in countries where malaria still exists drugs are being developed to cure the problem when an approach in lifestyle could be brought about as it was in Europe.
Humans possess a similar genetic code to those of Monkeys/Apes and have approximately 99% match, however phenotypically humans and apes radically different at the behavioural phenotypical and biological level. So how can experimentation on animals ascertain how drugs will perform in humans when the certainty in the methodology in instable? This is a scientifically contested point.
Discussing animal testing from a religious view creates a whole new argument. Speciesism is a hierarchy placing humans above animals and is practiced by Jews and Christians who base their superiority on God’s words in Genesis. The word dominion is used in the Bible and Torah which leads Christians and Jews to believe that man alone is created in God’s image, and man alone is given dominion over all the animals on earth, this therefore provides Christians and Jews to benefit from the use of animal testing as they have power over the earth. The bible says “let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth and over all the creatures that creatures that move along the ground” genesis (1:26, 28)
However since the Bible has been translated from Latin different translations have been made, other translations of the Bible replace the word Dominion with Steward A steward is a man who manages or takes care of another’s property, this means that the world belongs to God and we are just looking after it for God, this means that humans do not have superiority to do what they want and have to treat animals with respect as they belong to God just as we do.
Let them rule over the fish of the sea…” should not be taken as dominance but as caring. (1:26, 28), choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15), for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10), To the LORD your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it (Deuteronomy 10:14), The world is mine, and all that is in it (Psalm 50:12).
Muslims only have one interpretation and also uses the word Steward, Muslims believe that everything that they own has been given to them as an amanah (trust) from Allah. However the Q’uran also goes on to say Man can make use of the flesh, skin, feathers, and bones of animals (Al-An`aam 6:143). As the animals have been created for the service of man they must be utilized in the name of God. Man should thank God for the permission to utilise animals by making humans slaughter the animals in the correct way after praying to God.
Mankind should remember that the earth belongs to all living creatures: And He has set out the earth for all creatures (Ar-Rahman 55:10;). Muslims feel Human responsibility to animal beings is to feed them, maintain them, and use them in suitable ways with kindness. All creation, living and non-living, participates in the divine eternal plan and, therefore, merit appropriate care and attention from the humans who are commissioned to tend it. This means that animal testing would not be accepted in Islam as they need to treat all of Gods creations with kindness.
V.A. Mohamad Ashrof an Islamic pliosopher states that we live in a world inhabited not only by humans but also by countless other creatures that share the world with us. Animals provide resources and services that we use. They form part of the life-support system of the earth on which all life depends. Every kind of thing is produced on the earth in due balance and measure, basically by conducting animal tests we are upsetting the balance of the earth set by God and intervening in his divine plan.
Christian philosopher Andrew Linzey feels that Animals should have some rights because of their status as creatures of God. Their position comes from their position of vulnerability. He believes one fundamental Christian principle of the duty of the strong to help the weak, as animals do not have a chocie wheather to participate in animal testing I would regard them as weak, in order to be a good Christian it would make sense to protect the weak and claim an end to anumal testing. (Linzey, 1990)
Emmanual Kant felt that respect is only due to rational beings, this can be seen as a strong claim, many also argue that animals don’t have rights as rights are only appropriate for those with self -awareness or have some sort of social system, can express their desires and can be accountable for their actions. Rights imply responsibility you cannot have rights unless you are prepared to accept the limitations on your actions, which means animals do not access the choice of whether they are used in animal testing or not, I feel this is a good way to look at animal testing and provides an adequate reason why human testing should not be conducted, this is simply down to the fact that humans have rights and can decide whether or not to participate in testing. I believe it is the ability of moral judgements which places humans above animals. (Fox, 1986)
The number of testing on animals has halved in the last 30 years as jurisdictions have become tighter, British law requires that any new drug must be tested on at least two different species of live mammal. One must be a large non-rodent however UK regulations are considered some of the most rigorous in the world – the Animals Act of 1986 insists that no animal experiments be conducted if there is a realistic alternative, almost every medical treatment you use has been tested on animals. Animals were also used to develop anaesthetics to prevent human pain and suffering during surgery. Almost every medical treatment you use has been tested on animals.
Animals were also used to develop anesthetics to prevent human pain and suffering during surgery because the fact is that almost every medical treatment has relied on animals to develop it. This is the reason why it sometimes does not seem logical to argue against animal testing as it is indirectly placed within our lives and is basically impossible to be against animal testing without being a hypocrite and using products that have been developed using animal test either on you or your family. However they are groups that do not use any products that have produced through animal testing such as indigenous people living in the Amazon and resort to other solutions such as African healers, herbal remedies and do not engage with pharmaceutical products.
It has also been scientifically proven that you can generalize animal results to humans satisfactorily. Scientists claim there are no differences in lab animals and humans that cannot be factored into tests this is the reason why Operations on animals helped to develop organ transplant and open-heart surgery techniques and almost every medical treatment you use has been tested on animals
Cultural changes have also made animal experimentation a lot more moral. When animal experimentation first began thousands of animals were being killed needlessly, however in the 21st century procedures are a lot more necessary and reduce the amount of pain endured by the animals. As technology progresses fewer testing on animals are being carried out as they can compile data that they have already gathered or use alternatives. Also with the help of more organisations such as PETA animals that have been used and survived experimentation now have a place to go to instead of being put to death.
I gathered the following quote from a forum that I found on the internet which required comments between the comparison of animals and humans: “Nobody likes to see undue cruelty to anything, especially in the field of cosmetics or similar egotistical selfish areas. But you show me the animal I have to kill to save my child’s life and I’ll tear it apart with my bare hands if I have to – no question of doubt in my mind.” (Internet forum, 2007).
This shows that the appreciation of human life is much higher than the appreciation of animal life. “A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy”. Testing is a “holocaust on animals” (Ingrid Newkirk is the co-founder and president of PETA). Looking at this from a world view it is hard to compare the significance a holocaust on animals to a holocaust on humans as many of the world value their lives much higher than animal life, this is a valid explanation to test on animals in order to save human life. (Scruton, 1997)
In terms of the philosophers I have mentioned I feel that V.A. Mohamad Ashrof has the stongest argument as he demonstrates how animal testing can be used appropriately to protect our world but also shows how animals are in our care and we should not use animals inappropriately, the weakest argument would from PETA as they are protesting about the use of animal testing while being hypercritical by saying that is impossible to live without products linked with animal testing. I also favour the utilitarian approach to animal testing as it takes sensible decisions for example if using 10 pigs and possibly killing a thousand pigs creates a cure for HIV it is the right thing to do as it will benefit a third of the worlds population.
I feel that overall the Pros for Animal experiment heavily overweigh the cons both from a religious and secular point of view. In order for the human race to continue their needs to be sacrifices and animals are one of these, it makes sense that if millions of animals are being slaughtered across the world for food and skin it provides a valid excuse to use them in experiments that benefit the human race. I would rather work for a ban on animals being used as meat and fur that for animal experimentation as we can have alternative food but there is no alternative especially for medical science that can provide the accuracy than animal testing provides. This decisioin was based after examining and considering ethical responses from secular and non secular views drawing up the image that human structure, rights, values and emotions are far more perplex than those of an animal.