Ethical Issues in Non-human animals


Ethical Issues in Non-human animals


  • CONVENIENCE- good subjects as they do not require consent and do not try to understand the purpose of the experiment. Also, more controllable
  • EVOLUTIONARY CONTINUUM- researchers use the theory of evolution to argue that animals and humans share common ancestors so they may be made of the same 'building blocks'. It makes sense tostudy simpler organisms first and then generalise to human behaviour. (Therapies can be established, such as aversion therapy derived from classical conditioning which was creative with Pavlov)
  • ETHICAL REASONS- moral obligations to help humans first and without animal research, many benefits for humans would not exist. (Seligman- electric shocks to dogs to hind legs, learnt helplessness = helps us to understand depression)
  • SPECIESIM - JEFFREY GRAY (1991) - We have a special duty to care for humans (speciesim not equivalent to Racism)!


  • PAIN AND DISTRESS- inflicting any suffering of another creatureis morally objectionable. In many cases the suffering of animals has not been justified by the knowledge gained from the studies.
  • Jauvet- experiment to do with sleep deprivation using cats on a small island surrounded by water. This research could have been seen as redundant as there is already research into sleep deprivation with humans
  • Sneddon et al- injected rainbow trout with bee venom who started to rock side to side, their breathing rate went up and they rubbied their lips on the tank. However, it cannot be said that fish do feel pain from the poisonous stimulus.
  • HUMANS ARE DIFFERENT TO ANIMALS- such as differences in many things such as: human consiousness, brain structure etc. HOWEVER Gray counteracts this with his research into anti-anxiety drugs with rats where he found similar results to those when experimenting with humans suggesting there may be a possible generalisation.
  • EMPTY CAGES- REGAN argued that animals should never be used in research no matter what the benefits and no matter how well their needs are looked after. Regan argues that justice does not demand larger and cleaner cages, BUT empty cages.


In the past it may have been a necessity to conduct animal researchHowever, in today's society where there are many viable alternatives available (e.e growing cell cultures and also brain/body scanning/imaging techniques) that it is highly questionable to use animals at all in research.


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