Evaluating the use of animal research

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  • Evaluating the use of animal research
    • Practical strengths
      • Animals for research are raised in controlled environments so the effects of prior experiences have been controlled
      • Conditions during the research can be more precisely controlled
      • Laboratory species tend to have much shorter life spans than humans, allowing life span effects to be more easily monitored
      • Animals that are genetically similar can be tested in different conditions, so removing the genetic variables
      • Animal research is usually cheaper (amount of drug needed is less) time scales are shorter and adequate conditions and welfare are also less expensive than for humans
      • Results can be used to produce a model of how addiction may happen that can then be investigated in humans under less rigorous conditions
    • Practical weaknesses
      • There is no guarantee that what happens in rats will occur in humans, so findings from animal research can only be applied to humans with great caution
      • It cannot be used to explain the interaction between experiences, genetics and drugs found in human use
      • The financial benefits of using animals may be spurious if the results cannot be generalised
      • cues present in the environments can make people respond more or less quickly to a drug even make a normally 'safe' level of intake lethal. This cannot be investigated using animals
    • Ethical strengths
      • Studies that are ethically impossible on humans can be conducted on animals, as animals can be seen as expendable
      • If there are long- term negative consequences of a drug, it is thought better for a non-human animal to be affected than a human
      • Provided the ethical guidelines for animals research are adhered to, then animals research tends to be more straightforward that similar research on humans
      • In Britain the use of animals in labs is monitored and regulated by Home Office licence, so checks on the welfare of animals are more likely than on the welfare of human participants
    • Ethical weaknesses
      • A study may be ethically preferable but useless because of species differences, so animals may have suffered for no good purpose
      • Causing harm to non-human animals instead of humans is speciesism according to Ryder. If researchers are not willing to conduct the research on humans it should not be done
      • Ethical guidelines do not, according to some people go far enough in protecting animals


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