Rhetorical Analysis

by: Adriana Valdiviezo

In the article, “Second Thoughts of an Animal Researcher” by John P. Gluck on The New York Times website posted September 2, 2016, he talks about what it is like to be a scientist who is involved with animal testing on the daily basis. John reveals where his mindset was as a graduate student and how his mentality developed on the subject over the years. He told himself that the animals, in this case monkeys were fine. They had all the right essentials food, water, clean cages, good caretakers and even a veterinarian. He believed that was enough to tip the scales and the fact that the pain the monkeys felt was “momentary”. The results would be “worth it” in the long run for him and his fellow colleagues’ ongoing education. He made himself comfortable with the concept that the monkeys were his research partners instead of innocent animals they were just using as experiments. As he started to get older, he starts to slowly recognize what was really going on. He started having a harder time to weigh out the pain in the animals and the results in his work. He later explains that animal testing is wrong and tells the ethical principle other scientists make about animal testing.

Gluck efficiently uses the rhetorical persuasion of ethos and pathos, to convince his readers that animal testing is overlooked and inhumane. The approach he takes through ethos, is using his credibility as a scientist who has had experience in precisely this study. John mentions “I comforted myself with the idea that these monkeys were my research partners”. He was seeing his experiments as data just like any other scientific researcher would, to get farther and to overlook what was truly going on around him. Furthermore, he adds on an alternative pretext “If you are ethically prevented from conducting a particular experiment with humans because of the pain and risk involved, the use of animals is warranted” as a self-justification for himself and many other scientists. Self-justification is where an individual behaves a certain way that contradicts their moral principles and is inclined to condone and suppress any criticism related to the misconduct. Therefore asserting that in his field of work that’s the excuses they give themselves, to justify their actions done on the monkeys in the lab. The next approach he took to entice the audience for his article was pathos, he writes about how he started to perceive the reality of how the animals were in fact being treated and was no longer nonchalant about it. John Gluck states “It became harder and harder for me to argue that the importance of my work always outweighed the pain I caused in doing it”. His views on the topic had been affected by everything he had been witnessing and experiencing and could no longer see things as a researcher but as a person with ethics. Another comment that clarify how his perspective had changed was “No matter what honorable ends you tell yourself you have in sight, if you’re finding yourself having to bowdlerize the description of your work, you are in a morally perilous place and should urgently reconsider what you’re doing.” This citation is stating that if an individual has to censor the details of the workplace where he or she works at and is not proud of what they do then perhaps that person should stop and reevaluate what they are doing and what they would be proud of doing.

In conclusion, this article was written by someone who has had a different perspective early on but then contradicts his beliefs. He starts off his article with the appeal of ethos and the credibility of him being a researcher. He then changes off into the appeal of pathos, where he tells us stories and the experiences he has had within his life with animal testing. To being a professional and having the mindset of a researcher, to contemplating the circumstances, and to gaining the mentality of someone who knows the difference between right or wrong. In the ending of this article he mentions how there is a blank for humans and how the N.I.H should make one for the animals that have the same rights as humans do. “There is no research more valuable than our own integrity and ethical coherence, and our treatment of animals is a direct reflection of our values toward life and one another”. If we’re mistreating animals, then what does that say about our morals towards existence and everything else?

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