Experiments are done using testing of many different species. Scientists use humans to determine certain things about society and use animals to test products, medications, or diseases. Such experiments can be ineffective or unnecessary due to these animals not even being able to attract the same diseases or disorders as many humans. With that being said, I argue that animal testing should not be tolerated under any circumstance because they are cruel and unreliable testing methods. Moral theories such as Utilitarianism and Deontology relate to the topic of animal testing and help me to enforce this movement. In this paper, I argue that the utilitarian stance on animal testing provides a superior argument about animal testing over the moral theory of deontology.
John Stuart Mill wrote Utilitarianism and is known as one of the most influential theories on society even 150 years after it was written. Utilitarianism or the Greatest Happiness Principle is defined, in The Ethical Life: Fundamental Readings in Ethics and Moral Problems, as, actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness, (Mill 98).
The most important part of this theory, I believe, is that to achieve the goal of happiness in a utilitarianism aspect, is to not only achieve the happiness of just the agent, but all of those who are concerned. This means that in a situation where more than one being, or living thing, all’s happiness must be taken into consideration and accounted for. In an NCBI article titled Utilitarian and Deontological Ethics in Medicine, discusses utilitarian and deontological approaches that deal with conflicts and complications in medical ethics.
It states, In the utilitarian approach, decisions are chose based on the greatest amount of benefit obtained for the greatest number of individuals. It continues on to say, According to rule utilitarianism, a morally right decision is an action complying moral codes/rules leading to better consequences, (Mandal Ponnambath Parja paragraph 3). It is important to understand how the definition of utilitarianism emphasizes the importance of focusing on the happiness of all those that are concerned and not only the specified agent.
Immanuel Kant discusses good will and categorical imperative using deontological ethics in The Ethical Life: Fundamental Readings in Ethics and Moral Problems. Though he does not specifically define deontology in the text, it is defined by an Ethics Unwrapped article from the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas as, an ethical theory that uses rules to distinguish right from wrong. This theory is associated with Kant because he believed that ethical actions that are seen as morally correct are related to moral laws such as refraining from lying, stealing, or cheating.
In the textbook, Kant discusses how we could act morally as a society and enforce good will overall. He sets out two tests for morally acceptable action, one being, actions are morally acceptable only when the principles that inspire them can be acted on by everyone consistently, and the second being a requirement to, treat humanity always as an end in itself, and never as a mere means. With these things being said, it is hard to determine the true definition of good and all of the abstractions that can come from these definitions.
Both moral theories help me to argue against the subject of animal testing in different ways. Utilitarianism is discussed in an extensive article titled, Animal Rights Theory and Utilitarianism: Relative Normative Guidance. Gary Francione uses this article to explain animal rights along with utilitarianism while discussing the pros and cons of both topics. I will be focusing mainly on the cons of animal testing and the pros of utilitarianism as it pertains to the subject in order to build and shape my argument against animal testing.
Peter Singer has his own utilitarian theory that are similar to Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill, them being utilitarians as well. Singer believes that the consequences of the contemplated act are the ones that matter as opposed to those that follow. Francione writes, Pleasure and pain matter because they are a part of what humans and nonhumans desire or prefer or seek to avoid. In Animal Liberation, Singer argues that in assessing the consequences of our actions, it is necessary to take the interests of animals seriously and to weigh any adverse affect on those interests from human actions as part of the consequences of those actions.
I believe the most important part of this sections of the article is how Singer believes speciesism is discrimination just as sexism or racism is. This is an important part of my argument because this stresses how if we are not able to discriminate against humans, what makes it right to harm or take the lives of animals? Humans are not of a higher power over any other species and were never personally given the right to take the lives of other living things unless it was a necessity to survive.
One may argue that animal testing is done in order to allow humans to endure a longer life by finding ways to cure cancer or other life-threatening diseases, but with the technology that has evolved, we must use those resources to prevent health and medical issues instead of taking the lives of other species. The article continues on the say, For Singer, the rightness or wrongness of conduct is determined by consequences, and not by any appeal to right. Francione then writes, Singer opposes most animal experimentation, only because he thinks that most animal experiments produce benefi
ts that are insufficient to justify the animal suffering that results. This is also an important part of the article because this helps to emphasize how animal testing does not have an end result of happiness for all of those concerned.
The Hastings Center Report from The Ethics of Animal Experimentation and Research, written by Strachan Donnelley and Kathleen Nolan explored the complex ethical issues surrounding animal testing in depth. With deontology focusing solely on the immediate decision of whether an action is good or bad, ignoring the following consequences, Tom Regan is a contemporary deontologist that believes animals have a significant moral status and that any animal testing or experimentation is immoral and must be avoided at all costs. The article reads,
The deontological emphasis on respect and justice for the individual often underlies the judgment that it is wrong to be callous or casual about the use of animals even where those attitudes don’t result in actual harm, (Donnelly Nolan 6). This is important to understand because deontology explains that even if there is no harm caused during the process of animal testing, it is still immoral to act on them for experimentation.
Personally, I believe the utilitarian argument against animal testing is a better argument. In the article I used to create my deontological argument, Donnelly and Nolan also discussed the utilitarian views. It reads, Probably the most common justification is that the benefits gained from such research far outweigh the suffering of experimental animals, (Donnelly Nolan 4-5). It continues to say on page 5 that, Unless one is prepared to argue that animals simply lack the capacity for morally relevant interests and desires, any consistent form of utilitarianism that includes pleasures, suffering, or interests in its account of good must accord sentient animals a significant moral status.
Overall, the utilitarian argument is a better argument as opposed to deontological theories because the definition on its own speaks for all species. Anyone who is involved must be accounted for in any action to promote happiness in utilitarianism while deontology focuses on good or bad actions without focusing on the following consequences. If animal testing was to be done to find a cure for cancer, and the animal ended up losing its life, a deontologist would say that the decision was good or moral because they found a cure for cancer and did not focus on the animal’s life following the experiment. A utilitarian would make the decision to not test on the animal because it would cause the opposite of happiness for all species or living things involved.
I personally believe that the human species should refrain from acting on animals for the sake of their own species. The utilitarian position provided a clear and concise argument against animal testing while deontology leaves a lot of unanswered questions.
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