A rational defense of animal research
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A Rational Defense of Animal Research. Nathan Nobis, Ph.D. Philosophy Department University of Alabama, Birmingham www.NathanNobis.com [email protected] 3,000-6,000 animals killed every hour of every day by U.S. scientist and those employed by them

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A Rational Defense of Animal Research

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A rational defense of animal research

A Rational Defense of Animal Research

Nathan Nobis, Ph.D.

Philosophy Department

University of Alabama, Birmingham

www.NathanNobis.com

[email protected]


A rational defense of animal research

  • 3,000-6,000 animals killed every hour of every day by U.S. scientist and those employed by them

  • Recent review suggests just being in lab is harmful for animals

  • Video footage of Covance’s labs in Vienna, VA

    • Are these actions of harming animals morally permissible, or are they wrong?

      • Is it wrong to treat us these ways, and if so, why?


A rational defense of animal research

Us?

  • ‘conscious, sentient beings’ – many animals are like us

  • ‘us’ = ‘humans’ – be careful

    • Is the suggestion that anything that is biologically human is wrong to treat those ways?

      • Would imply it is wrong to destroy (living) cells, tissues, organs and embryos/fetuses


A rational defense of animal research

Us?

  • A being has 'moral rights' only if "rational" or "intelligent" or "autonomous"?

  • But, severely mentally challenged, senile, seriously demented and babies – all considered to be morally significant 'us' -- have rights, even though not rational, intelligent, autonomous

    • If they have rights, then basic moral ‘bar’ is set low

    • Cannot be set at ‘being human’ – cells/organs

    • Therefore, set at ‘consciousness’

      • Ability to feel pleasure and pain

      • Perspective on world


A rational defense of animal research

  • What is morally relevant, not species but mental life of individual

    • Comparable mental lives deserve equal respect and equal consideration and thus, nearly all animal experimentation is wrong.

  • This reasoning defended by many, criticized by few, philosophers


Recent objections

Recent Objections

  • Why Experimentation Matters: The Use of Animals in Medical Research, 2001

    • Defense of animal experimentation


Philosopher r g frey s essay

Philosopher R.G. Frey’s essay

  • “Justifying Animal Experimentation: The Starting Point”

    • Animal experimentation vs. human experimentation


Scientist adrian morrison

Scientist Adrian Morrison

  • “human beings stand apart in a moral sense from all other species”

    • Does not identify morally-relevant characteristics humans have that animals don’t

      • Therefore, he can’t rationally criticize opposing views

  • “Self preservation”

    • Doesn’t explain why human experimentation would be wrong

  • Vivisectors have “God’s blessing”


Biologists charles nicholl and sharon russell

Biologists Charles Nicholl and Sharon Russell

  • “Evolution has endowed us with a need to know as much as we can”

  • “to refrain from exploring nature in every possible way would be an arrogant rejection of evolutionary forces”

    • Then why isn’t it arrogant to perform experimentation on humans?

  • Purpose of evolution

  • Since animals act some way, humans can too


Others

Others

  • Scientist Jerrold Tannenbaum

    • Scientists may “befriend” animals

  • Scientist Stuart Zola

    • “basic” vs. “applied” animal research

    • No backup provided

  • Philosopher Baruch Brody

    • Special obligations from humans to humans

      • Also special obligations from humans to animals to discount animal interests

    • To try to benefit humans, we must inflict pain, suffering and death on animals

    • More reflection and argument needed


Philosopher h tristam engelhardt

Philosopher H. Tristam Engelhardt

  • Dissenter – defends animal rights

    • “to be skinned”

    • “transformed into fur coats”

    • “produce knowledge of interest to humans”

    • “to be the object of culinary arts”

    • Little discussion of scientific issues

    • Remarks scattered


Morrison

Morrison

  • “medicine cannot progress without animal experimentation”

    • What about clinical and in vitro research, computer and mathematical modeling, epidemiology, etc.


Tibor machan s putting humans first why we are nature s favorite

Tibor Machan’s Putting Humans first: Why We Are Nature’s Favorite

  • Claim that animals possess moral rights is “a fiction” and “a trick”

  • Humans can see difference between right and wrong, animals can’t

    • Therefore humans have rights, animals don’t

  • However, only some humans, not all have these rights

    • Machan’s theory provides no protection for these humans


Tibor machan s putting humans first why we are nature s favorite1

Tibor Machan’s Putting Humans first: Why We Are Nature’s Favorite

  • Human babies and severely mentally challenged don’t “lack moral agency altogether”

    • Must consider them as existing “normally, not abnormally”

    • However it is not true that, in general, all features of normal beings are shared by abnormal beings

    • Therefore, vulnerable humans do not meet Machan’s necessary condition for rights; his defense of the rights of them fails and thereby so does his argument that animals have not moral rights


Tibor machan s putting humans first why we are nature s favorite2

Tibor Machan’s Putting Humans first: Why We Are Nature’s Favorite

  • “politically incorrect” animals

    • Morally permissible for us to act like some animals and kill other animals

  • “Humans are more important, even better, than animals, and we deserve the benefits that exploiting animals can provide”

    • Strong arguments not given to justify this


Tibor machan s putting humans first why we are nature s favorite3

Tibor Machan’s Putting Humans first: Why We Are Nature’s Favorite

  • Unanswered rhetorical questions too often take the place of arguments

  • Arguments not carefully and precisely developed or defended

  • Position on the use of animals is unclear and ambivalent


Utilitarianism and animal use

Utilitarianism and animal use

  • Few advocates of vivisection accept utilitarianism

  • Calculated indirect harms and opportunity costs that result from funds being directed towards vivisection and not towards others

  • Nobody has tried to show that some specified amount of vivisection is (likely) indispensable for bringing about the greatest possible overall medical benefits

  • Nobody has argued that, despite all the other research methods available, other methods would be better than animal research for human benefit


Conclusions

Conclusions

  • Status quo regarding animal use, especially in scientific research

  • Carl Cohen fails because his strategy implies that animals actually have rights and humans have none

  • Reasoning given in favor of some anti-animal perspective is faulty because it either depends on false an/or rationally indefensible premises


Conclusions1

Conclusions

  • Those who harm animals attempt to develop a plausible justification for doing so

  • It is likely morally obligatory that those who use animals in harmful manners cease in their deeds


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