Day 109 — Ethics and Animal Experimentation

While the moral status of animals have been a topic in philosophy since its early beginnings, it’s only become popular in the past hundred years or so to debate the ethical treatment of animals.

The treatment of animals as pets, as livestock, as creatures for testing and research are some examples of issues that have been discussed, with the treatment of non-human animals ranging from independence and autonomy, to completely subject to the will of humanity.

Philosophers and scientists such Darwin observed that animals differ ‘in degree and not in kind’, while utilitarian philosophers such as Bentham, Mill and Singer argue that we have relationships that require a minimisation of harm and unnecessary suffering of animals. There is also a Kantian perspective that we have a duty to animals and should not use them exclusively for human’s purposes.

While the development of the rights of animals in philosophical thought is fairly recent, there are a number of resources, such as animals in industry and experimentation, that draw upon ethical theories.

Further Resources:

Animal Research: The Ethics of Animal Experimentation — Stanford University

The Benefits and Ethics of Animal Research by Andrew N. Rowan, Scientific American 1997.

Animal experiments under the microscope — ABC Radio National

Experimenting on Animals — BBC

Why [Some Philosophers Think] Using Animals In Scientific Research Is Seriously Wrong — John Hadley, Dept Philosophy, University of Sydney

‘You won’t find chimps having this debate’— Discussion by Julian Baggini, The Guardian

Should we experiment on animals? Yes, says Colin Blakemore

Should we experiment on animals? No, says Gill Langley