The Ethics of Animal Use in Biomedical Research

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Both in and out of philosophical circle, animals have traditionally been seen as significantly different from, and inferior to, humans because they lacked a certain intangible quality – reason, moral agency, or consciousness – that made them moral agents. Recently however, society has patently begun to move beyond this strong anthropocentric notion and has begun to reach for a more adequate set of moral categories for guiding, assessing and constraining our treatment of other animals. As a growing proportion of the populations in western countries adopts the general position of animal liberation, more and more philosophers are beginning to agree that sentient creatures are of a direct moral concern to humans, though the degree of this concern is still subject to much disagreement. The political, cultural and philosophical animal liberation movement demands for a fundamental transformation of humans’ present relations to all sentient animals. They reject the idea that animals are merely human resources, and instead claim that they have value and worth in themselves. Animals are used, among other things, in basic biomedical research whose purpose is to increase knowledge about the basic processes of human anatomy. The fundamental wrong with this type of research is that it allows humans to see animals as here for them, to be surgically manipulated and exploited for money. The use of animals as subjects in biomedical research brings forth two main underlying ethical issues: firstly, the imposition of avoidable suffering on creatures capable of both sensation and consciousness, and secondly the uncertainty pertaining to the notion of animal rights. Although human beings exploit animals for multiple different purposes, the use o... ... middle of paper ... ... Rights.” In In Defense of Animals. New York: Basil Blackwell, 1985. pp. 13-26. Regan, Tom. “The Case for Animal Rights.” In Animal Rights and Human Obligations, 2 ed.. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1989. Rollin, Bernard E.. “The Ascent of Apes — Broadening the Moral Community”. In The Great Ape Project. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1993. pp.206-219. Singer, Peter. “All Animals Are Equal”. In Animal Liberation. New Jersey: 1989. pp. 148-162. Singer, Peter. "Animal Interests." The New York Review of Books, March 28, 1985, Vol. 32, No. 5. Taylor, Angus. Magpies, monkeys, and morals: what philosophers say about animal liberation. Peterborough, Ont.: Broadview Press, 1999. Wilson , James G. S., “Rights”, Principles of Health Care Ethics, Second Edition, eds. R.E. Ashcroft, A. Dawson, H. Draper and J.R. McMillan. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. 2007. pp. 239.