Is animal testing ever ethical?For years, animals have been used for testing and experimentation. A Russian monkey was the first living creature to go into space. Animals have been used to help...

Is animal testing ever ethical?

For years, animals have been used for testing and experimentation. A Russian monkey was the first living creature to go into space. Animals have been used to help develop vaccines against diseases like diphtheria and polio. Others have been used for the testing of cosmetics. Often, these animals go through much pain and suffering in order to improve human lives. Many people object to what they perceive as the mistreatment of animals. Should animals be used to benefit humans?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

On difficult decisions such as this, the first order of business is to marshal a logical argument based on facts that can be examined and evaluated and that can form the basis of sound judgement of and decision upon practice. Surely to suggest, as carol-davis implies by the juxtaposition of her sentences, that animal experimentation is solely "to serve the dollar" is the opposite of this step and a logical fallacy that can be easily disproven by the use of historical example. Certainly, pharmaceutical companies have gotten their greedy little hands into the works and sorely muck up the waters (mixed metaphors?) but their egregious behavior is not the beginning nor the end of the motivation, objectives, aims or valuation of animal experimentation. Frankly, I haven't made up my mind on all aspects of the question so am not arguing against logical fallacies from a positional bias.

I have made up my mind on some aspects of the question, however. I am certain that animal experimentation by cosmetic companies to test the effects of synthetic makeup and other synthetic cosmetic products on animals is a grievous wrong, just as it is a grievous wrong to foist such "safe" products off on blindly accepting consumers thus adding to their chemical body burdens. I have not made up my mind yet, though, on questions of health related animal experimentation. I incline toward thinking that pharmaceutical drug experimentation is, a majority of the time, of the same vein as cosmetic testing, but I haven't investigated enough to be sure. And I do know that animal testing hindered the development of the polio vaccine.

While I don't know enough information to make up my mind on all aspects of animal testing, I do know that logical fallacies will do the same thing as animal testing did to the polio breakthrough: it will hinder and delay right thinking and right action and a right end result.

booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I, too, am a pet owner. I take the care and safety of my animals very seriously, as does the rest of the U.S. it would seem—with animal rights organizations, movements to stop testing on animals, and even convictions for cruelty to animals. You may recall that Michael Vick of the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles was convicted of animal cruelty. Not only was there an outpouring of public outrage, but he served time in prison.

Groups often involved in animal testing to a great extent are cosmetic companies—especially testing on rabbits, as well as mice and rats. If these groups didn't put unnatural materials in their products, testing would not be necessary. I wear makeup, but I happily support companies that do NOT engage in animal testing. The European Union has banned such practices.

I know that some testing is done on animals to cure cancer. I cannot deny that a human life is more valuable than an animal's—it is a necessary evil, in my opinion, but I believe it to be ethical because of what motivates the testing. We would hope it is for a cure and not for a profit.

However, cruelty is something I struggle with. Carrying out these tests in a humane way is very important to me. And while some animals may have some similarities with humans on certain physiological levels, animal testing is only so effective. I wonder if it really does contribute meaningful data to cancer research.

carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ethics refers to morals and  the choosing of right conduct versus wrong.  As an animal lover, I do not believe that we have the right to maim, hurt, or kill animals on behalf of the scientific world.  Ethically, it is wrong to use animals for experimentation.  Rats, pigs, rabbits, monkeys, chimpanzees, dogs, cats--all are captured and spend their lives in cages isolated and alone to serve the dollar.   

When I look into the eyes of my pets, no one can tell me that they do not feel love, dislike, and even loneliness.  What is the difference between my pets and the poor animals that languish in cages waiting for the next horrific experiment?  There is none.

Many chimpanzees,  who are our closest cousins and whom we love in the zoos, are extremely intelligent.  They have demonstrated problem solving skills and highly developed emotions, yet scientists have  used them  to make life better for their human counter parts.  No, it is not ethical. 

Man has used up the rain forests, created global warming, and caused holes in the ozone layer.  Unfortunately, the human never learns that he has been placed here as a guardian of the wonderful planet Earth.  Still, he continues on endangering animals species to the point of extinction. 

The creativity of man tells me that if he so chooses there is another way to test makeup, food, and even medicine rather than on animals.  It is immoral to let animals suffer for whatever reason. Scientists should be working on new ways to evaluate products.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the great tradition of American eccentricities, animal testing has come under the scrutiny of such groups as PETA, who have probably caused more damage than benefits to animals.  The question of animal testing must be, as other scientific endeavors, dealt with through rationality and common sense.  Torturing rabbits to test mascara is absolutely unconscionable; however, the great strides made in medicine and disease control could never have been accomplished with the requisite alactrity had animals not aided man.  Questionable, indeed, is the testing with higher-level animals such as chimpanzees was truly cruel, but with lower animals such as mice and rats that are proliferate is certainly acceptable.  Their fates do not seem much worse than those of others who are caught in mousetraps, and are food for snakes, cats, and other predators, etc. 

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that we go overboard on the idea of animal rights.  I, like many, have pets now and have had them for most of my life.  However, I also have raised animals for food and have killed them myself.  I feel a deep attachment to my pets, but I also believe that they do not have the same importance as human beings do.  I cannot imagine putting the life of an animal on anywhere near to the same level as the life of a human being.  Therefore, I do very much approve of animal testing when it is done for the purpose of saving human lives or materially improving human health.  I think it should be done with as little pain to the animal as possible, but I also believe that we should inflict pain if it is necessary.  Human beings are, to my mind, so much above the other animals that our lives are much more important than theirs.

carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In answer to kplhardison, the sentence was misread possibly through my wording.  The statement was meant to say that the animals are sitting in cages isolated and alone.  They are there to serve the dollar.  Of course, I know that some scientists and companies believe that they are helping humanity by using animal experimentation.  Not everyone is out for the "buck." I am not as implied an illogical thinker; I am well aware of fallacious statements that confuse the main issue.  In answering this question, I believed that I was stating my opinion about a subject that I feel strongly. I am not a crusader,  nor do I think that my opinion will have any influence on anyone else.   

My main logical  point was that creative man should be able to find another way to test his products.  My emotional point was that I do not like using animals for experimentation.


Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I own several pets, and my dogs are a very important part of my life both now and in my past.  My belief is that the testing of products on animals as a cost saving measure or for vanity purposes is absolutely wrong.  Submitting animals to torture in order to produce a better cosmetic product or some other trivial product makes me doubt the human race to be honest.

With that being said, I have a much softer stance on the testing of products on animals for medical reasons.  I can't condone the death of animals to ensure shampoo doesn't sting my eyes, but I don't have a problem with animals dying to save the lives of humans.  If the sacrifice of one of my dogs could save my daughter's life I wouldn't hesitate to save my child.

literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Another discussion board post which provokes great interest and concern.

I have to say that I agree with animal testing on a limited basis. As pointed out in lentzk's post, animals should not be used to test vanity products. That said, I do understand the need to use animals for medical testing. It would be far more unethical to test new medications on people. I would rather see the tests ran on animals in order to make human life better for those struggling with certain diseases (like cancer).

Given that many people have very strong feelings about the animals which share our world, I cannot ever see a compromise being made about animal testing.

As for the ethical nature of it, I simply believe that those conducting the tests need to insure that the animals do not suffer needlessly.

shake99 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I love animals and hate the thought of needless suffering, or any suffering on their part. But to be honest, if I was presented with the choice of animal testing that produced a medical product that saved my child's life, I'd have to say that the animals should be tested on. It's a tough ethical delimma.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although I am a great lover of animals, I certainly have no problem with sacrificing them for the sake of medical experimentation that can eventually lead to the saving of human lives. I consider it a necessary evil in medical research, but human life trumps the animal world every time.

thewanderlust878 | Student

Along with many other individuals who have responded, I too am a loving pet owner to multiple types of animals. They mean the world to me, and more often than not I enjoy their company more than other humans company. So for me, I wholeheartedly believe that animal testing is wrong and never ethical, and it should be stopped. 

As a vegetarian, this feeling is instilled deep within me even more. I became a vegetarian at the ripe age of 15, for health reasons. Since then I have discovered more about the different reasons why people become vegetarians, and one of them is obviously animal rights. Nowadays I also believe that slaughtering animals for human consumption is wrong, and unnecessary. We do not need them to survive and live well, and vegetarians and vegans have shown for a long time. 

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