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Should animals be used in research… the ethics!

Animals have been used for many aspects of human life including education, breeding and defense research. They are more commonly known for being used in scientific research, whether this is a psychological theory to be tested or a new type of medication that needs to be tested on animals before reaching humans.

Personally, I do not believe that animals should be used in any type of research that could cause them harm or even death. According to Animal Liberation Front (www.animalliberationfront.com) animals are sentient beings, meaning that they are capable of being aware of sensations and emotions, of feeling pain and suffering and of experiencing a state of well-being. Linking this to some types of studies animals have been subjected too… this means that they feel everything they are undergoing, they feel the pain of the drugs working through their systems and of the electrical shocks they may be subjected to.

In terms of the ethical guidelines, it can be argued that little or none of the guidelines in place are met when animals are used in research. The animals can not inform consent as they are incapable of speech or signing a form, they are not debriefed after the study as they would not understand what they are being told, they are not given information before the study, they are deceived as they do not know what they are being subjected to and they have no input as to whether or not their details are kept confidential and finally they do not have the right to withdraw, the experimenter would not know if the animal wished to withdraw unless it can be seen that they are in considerable pain through sounds. All of these may seem a little obvious, but in terms of an animal being sentient, they feel the pain of the research they may have undergone, yet do not have the ethical guidelines behind them to keep them safe.

There have been studies into animals and whether or not they have personalities. Dr Samuel Gosling conducted research into whether dogs had personalities or not… to put it briefly, he asked humans who knew the dogs and knew specified humans to rate their personalities in aspects of things like extroversion, openness and neuroticism, he compared these scores to participants who did not know the dogs or the humans and found that the scores were closely fitted, concluding that the participants believed the humans and dogs to have the same personalities.

However, some people believe that animals do not have personalities, are not sentient and should be used in scientific research, they believe that humans are ranked higher than animals and therefore we should be able to used them to discover new things that could change the way medication is taken or theories are written. York (2009) conducted a study where he asked children to rank in order humans, animals and plants. All of the children ranked humans as the most important in the list, but did add that all living organisms are important and that they should not be labeled as unimportant.

In conclusion, I do not believe that animals should be used in scientific research where they could get hurt as it has been shown that animals are sentient and can feel emotions and pain, therefore conducting the experiments on them would be harming a living creature, and its not as if they have the ethical guidelines to fall back on should they feel mistreated at the end of the experiment.

The top 5 shocking animal experimental facts:

  1. More than 100 million animals are poisoned, burned, crippled, and abused in other ways in U.S. labs each year.
  2. No experiment is illegal, no matter how cruel, irrelevant to human health, redundant, or painful.
  3. Ninety five percent of animals used for experiments are excluded from the only federal law offering any sort of protection.
  4. Even when valid alternatives to animals are available, the law doesn’t require that they be used.

5. Ninety two percent of experimental drugs that are safe and effective in animals fail in human clinical trials because they don’t work or are dangerous.

Research found from: http://animals.howstuffworks.com/animal-facts/do-animals-have-personalities1.htm





Comments on: "Should animals be used in research? 11/03/12" (12)

  1. You make a very good point that the ethical guidelines applicable for humans, such as informed consent and debriefing, can not be used to reduce distress in animals. However I feel the real issue is not with the type of ethical guidelines used, but whether or not animals actually have rights in the first place. Michael Strawser *, in the ‘Animal Rights from an Libertarian Perspective,’ suggests rights only belong to those with moral agents; a conscience. Animals do not have such higher-ordered thinking skills enabling them to choose between right and wrong, but instead they make decisions based on instinct. Similarly, Strawser argued if an individual has rights they must also have responsibilities. It could be said animals do not have any responsibilities within society, hence they have no rights. So following this rule, animals could be used in all types of research- regardless of whether they are sentient beings, (as you highlighted in your blog,) or not. However if the determinant rule governing rights is morality, consciousness and responsibilities- mentally ill humans do not have rights either…!?

    * http://reason.com/archives/2011/09/23/do-animals-have-rights

  2. I agree with you that it is wrong to harm animals and especially cause death through using animals in research however I feel you focused on all the negatives when there is actually many positives which may even be beneficial to the animal. Firstly both medical and scientific organisations agree that animal research is essential for medical progress. Yes many years ago animals may not have been treated right but now science has developed a wide range of experimental techniques which are used in preference to animals. This has saved and improved the lives of millions. It is also important to note that before a new medicine is launched it is tested on 15 times as many people as animals. So should humans not take part in research either. All in all animal research has “advanced the treatment of infections, helped with immunisation, improved cancer treatment and has had a major impact on managing heart disease, brain disorders, arthritis and transplantation” (Winston, n.d.).

    Also across the world there are regulations in place for the use of animals in research. In fact the UK was the first country in the world to protect animals through a law set in 1876 even before laws to protect children! The law seeks to strike a balance between scientific/medical progress and animal welfare.

    Lastly a public survey since running since 1999 for 10 years found that 9 in 10 people agree with animal research providing that conditions are met those being:

    -There is no unnecessary suffering.
    -The research is for serious medical or life-saving purposes.
    -There is no alternative.

    and I agree if those conditions are met 🙂

  3. I agree that animals should have rights and should not necessarily be used in research. In the past, animals have been used to test cosmetics and the likes, and we have since learnt that this is a hugely ethical issue, and it was banned. Even recent laws, have stated that scientists must avoid using animals whenever possible. The 3Rs state that animals should be replaced with humans where possible, the number of animals used should be reduced and procedures should be refined to minimise any pain and suffering, (Medical Research Council). So its not to say that animals have no rights.
    But animal research has played a central role in psychology. Plous (1996) found that out of nearly 4000 members of the APA, the majority supported the use of animals in research for observations and teaching, but disproved of any animal research involving pain and death. As long as it is essential and unavoidable, the Experimental Psychological Society support the use of animals in research.
    Therefore, although I can see the issues with using animals in research, they are important in the discovery of incredible advances in psychology and medicine, and I think without them, we may not be where were we are today in terms of scientific advancements. As the above comments says, the number of lives that has been saved and improved is immense. And so maybe the ends do justify the means.

  4. Animal research is always a controversial topic within the scientific community, but I think it does seem to be more realistically accepted then human research. This of course does not mean that just because animals are being used as test subjects means they should be treated badly and with minimal concern for their well-being, but unfortunately research does sometimes involve animals getting hurt. Those facts you listed make this type of research even more controversial because of the obvious negative affects this research has on the animals. However, whereas I believe animals should not be treated unfairly where possible, I would still rather animals being tested for the more dangerous type of research than humans.
    Now I know that sounds slightly unfair and unjust towards animals, but trust me I am an animal lover and my justification for thinking research and testing on animals is necessary is that if animals weren’t tested then humans would have to be. Thus involving the risks being passed onto humans, and imagine if it was a member of your family being tested, if something happened to them instead of an animal I would feel much more horrified.
    In conclusion, the welfare of the animals being tested should be a priority for the researchers but this type of research must be conducted for the health of humans and our friends and family in particular.

  5. I think your blog covers a wide variety of aspects associated with testing on animals and why it may be seen to many people as being unethical. However, in contradiction to some of the points made I want to put forward the question that some people may want to know the answer to. Rats are tested on quite often for different research purposes. What do people think about animals which are also referred to as vermin being tested on?

    According to statistics in the US, over 20 million rats and mice are used for research purposes in 1 calender year. This is due to the fact that they are easy to come across, they reproduce at a very quick pace and they are rodents (carry harmful bacteria). However, the most important reason is due to the fact that mince share 99% of their genes with humans! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_testing.

    That is astonishing! So yes, i do agree that animal testing can be considered wrong for many different reasons but it is important to weigh the advantages with the disadvantages when considering testing on animals such as rats and mice.

  6. After reading your blog i see why animal testing can be bad but i have to disagree with you. i believe animals should be tested on with pretyy much everything before its tested on humans, apart from make up product and washing products, (though there is nothing wrong with a fresh smelling dog wearing lipstick). For example would you rather have someone you know use a deadly drug and get very ill or have an animal die in there place? also in terms of animals having a personality and being subject to psychological harm, if they become too mentaly scared then they can always be put down so they dont have to suffer. unlike humans who would have to live with it because of the law. also if the animals need to be put down they can then be recycled into a fur coat or other clothing item 🙂

    in conclusion i belive it is better to have an animal die rather than a person because that person will have friends and family who would miss them if they died. where as an animal most probaly wouldnt really care as they kill each other in the wil anyway.also if you had to choose between your pet or your friend you would choose to get rif of your dog coz you can just buy new ones. so the benefits out way the costs.

  7. I do not think animals should be used either. I think it is a bit selfish of our kind to have ethics guidelines for humans and if not followed we could be penalised but we do not really care if animals suffer. According to Darwin (1859) we are animals as well. According to most of the scientists we evolved from fish or monkey ( I can’t remember which one ) . As you mentioned none of the ethics (consent, debrief, protection from psychological harm etc.) cannot be gained. Therefore if we follow that argument we are inflicting pain to animals that cannot defend themselves which is really bad as it shows we do not have conscious. We are kind of research ‘’Hitler’’ as we poses the power . Sheriff and King (1974) conducted research into obedience using animals. Puppies were administered with real electric shock. They were able to do so and they were found ethically ok . Whereas there was a big concern about the ethic principle (protection from harm ) in Zimbardo study that resulted in termination of the study as humans were injected with pain and were suffering. I know there is something called cost versus benefits when considering using animals in psychological research but still I do not think it is appropriate to use them. I think we are just taking advantage of animals under the ‘’psychological research’’ cover. 🙂

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