argument top image

Is animal testing ethical? Show more Show less
Back to question

The ethics of animal experimentation is a topic of hot debate in academia. Animal rights groups consider animal testing unethical due to the harm inflicted on animals. The other side of the debate justifies the harm because animal testing will bring greater benefits to the world.

Animal testing is ethical under certain conditions Show more Show less

From a utilitarian approach, animal testing is ethical if its benefits for humans outweigh its costs for animals. Another perspective is that animal testing is ethical on the condition that the researcher fully follows the related ethical and legal guidelines.
< (2 of 3) Next position >

Animal testing is ethical unless the experiment violates ethical and legal guidelines

Researchers are obliged to comply with ethical guidelines and legal obligations. These ensure that the experiment does not involve animal cruelty or any other violation of animal rights. Unless researchers violate the guidelines, animal testing is ethical.

The Argument

National Committee for Research Ethics in Science and Technology (NENT) has prepared ethical guidelines for the use of animals in research.[1] According to NENT, there are a set of principles (known as “the three Rs”) that scientists are encouraged to follow in order to reduce the impact of research on animals. These include: 1. Reduction: The researchers must reduce the number of animals used in experiments as much as possible. To do that, they may improve the techniques of data analysis or share information with other researchers. 2. Refinement: The researchers must refine the experiment to reduce the suffering of animals. They may use less invasive techniques, better medical care, and better living conditions. 3. Replacement: The researchers must replace experiments on animals with alternative techniques, if possible. The alternative techniques can include experimenting on cell structures instead of whole animals, using computer models or epidemiological studies, and studying human volunteers.[2] There are also legal obligations for researchers to follow while conducting animal experimentation. They differ from country to country. For example, in Australia, it is unlawful to use animals in the skin and eye irritancy tests as well as in the testing of sunscreen products.[3] As long as the researchers follow these guidelines, animal suffering is minimized. Therefore, animal research is ethical on the condition that the researchers comply with the ethical and legal guidelines.

Counter arguments

The three Rs do not take the costs and benefits of animal research into account. They do not ask questions such as “Is the experiment worth pursuing in the first place? Is it too expensive?” Is it important enough?”. It just assumes the experiment is worth doing. Additionally, the three Rs are not comprehensive. They do not discuss animals' basic needs or set limits on how much animals can be harmed.[4] Therefore, complying with ethical guidelines do not ethically justify animal research.

Proponents

Premises

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://www.forskningsetikk.no/en/guidelines/science-and-technology/ethical-guidelines-for-the-use-of-animals-in-research/
  2. https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwi4lJ-V06zsAhW7ShUIHTo-DpwQFjAAegQIAhAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bbc.co.uk%2Fethics%2Fanimals%2Fusing%2Fexperiments_1.shtml&usg=AOvVaw2dD5aBQsYSExlZFBq-pQIM
  3. https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwiB5J3a0azsAhV-VBUIHfRYDbgQFjALegQIHBAC&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.business.qld.gov.au%2Findustries%2Ffarms-fishing-forestry%2Fagriculture%2Flivestock%2Fanimal-welfare%2Fanimals-science%2Fusing-animals%2Flegal-obligations&usg=AOvVaw30ycb-TMfoSjnFhmxdocH1
  4. https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/06/it-time-replace-one-cornerstones-animal-research
This page was last edited on Wednesday, 14 Oct 2020 at 02:25 UTC

Explore related arguments