In philosophy, ethics is a branch of thought that deals with questions about what is right and what is wrong. There are various ethical dilemmas which are found in other more complex areas. For example the widely discussed moral question concerns are the use of animals in scientific experiments. Clearly, humans have the power to use other creatures in this way. PETA also known as People for the Ethical Treatment of the Animals (2014) conducted an undercover investigation on the laboratory of Philip Morris, an international cigarette manufacturing company. Inside their laboratories scientific research are carried with the use of Beagle dogs to study the effects of smoking in the lungs. In other circumstances, rats are used in experiments wherein scientists mix the extracts of honey, molasses, cocoa and coffee to the cigarettes. These animals are subjected to inhale smoke for 90 consecutive days before dissecting them for post mortem study. In addition, the French philosopher and mathematician Rene Descartes claimed that animals are mere machines that lack inner feelings and consciousness (McKinnon & Fiala 2013 p. 449). In contrast, animal welfare activists countered Descartes’ philosophical belief by stating that animals can feel pain, pleasure, grief and anger. They are regarded as sentient, suffering beings because they lack the ability to speak and express their thoughts and feelings which made them extremely vulnerable to exploitations and animal abuse. Animal experiments are considered an age old practice which dates back in ancient Egypt in the third century BCE (McKinnon 2013).
“Human beings are animals after all. But we are also the only animals that raise questions about the morality of killing other animals” (McKinnon 2013; McKinnon & Fiala 2013 p.441).
What McKinnon points out on this particular sentence is that humans is no different from animals; the only things that humans possess are the ability to speak and to think critically, however, an animal will remain an animal no matter what. Since humans are animals, their right to live must not be taken away or exploited for the means of obtaining human good. In addition, McKinnon also argued that animal experimentation was closely related to utilitarianism. By placing few animals to suffer, the results will eventually benefit many people. As a conclusion, animal experimentation is not an ethical because it makes the animals suffer from pain and torture. Moreover, no matter if the result will benefit the human society, a death is still a death and for the people to live a sacrifice is needed.
Further investigations and study relating to animal experimentation are also found in the horse racing industry. Horses used in racing are drugged with chemicals or performance enhancers to boost their speed. The widely debated chemical called ‘Lasix’ administered along with Butazolidine as pain killers are another way of improving a horse’s speed and at the same time good for conducting research to develop new products that will benefit both the horses and the horse racing industry. However, the administered drugs combined with corticosteroids as anti-inflammatory gave the horses’ side effects rather than benefit. Susan Stover Ph.D. (2008) a member of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons stated the side effects of using chemicals in horse racing for the purpose of winning and experimentation.
“From 1990 up to 2006, injuries relating to the musculoskeletal system of horses still belongs to the primary reasons of horse death in race tracks. The number of thoroughbred horses with a fatal bone and muscle injuries has risen by approximately three out of five horses for every one thousand races. Sadly, the statistics also shows that because of this reason, almost 19-33% of race horses in the United States leave their training within a span of a three months or less for unrecoverable injuries ” (as cited from Allin 2011 n.p.).
In some cultures, there are different ways of animal treatment. In Spain for example, bulls are killed for entertainment because bullfighting is an integral part of the Spanish culture whose history dates back into the 1726. Bulls that are used in the feasts called Corrida de Toros preserves the traditional Spanish unity and spirit. In addition, it promotes the Spanish culture as well. However, animal activists view bullfighting as a blood sport concealed in merry feast. Animal suffering is evident before the event of bullfight. Bulls are drugged with various chemicals to deplete their strength. In addition, they are confined in tight and dark cages to lose their eyesight. Their eyes are rubbed with chili pastes and jelly lubricants to blur their vision. Many scientists also conduct experiments during or before the bullfight; they record and observe the effects of drugs in the bulls’ body and performance. For this reason, several products have been developed to maximize the bulls’ potential during the fights (Singer 1977).
Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, donkeys are important to the society because they are used for transportation and as a symbol of royalty. In poor countries such as the countries belonging to the African continent, they see animals as food and not as a living being mainly because to suppress hunger. In rich societies, people can take care of animals because they have other means of feeding themselves. Furthermore, animal testing and experimentation does not guarantee that the drugs tested on animals will work on humans. For example, Alexander Fleming the inventor of the penicillin tested his discovery on rabbits without knowing that the animals themselves secrete penicillin in their urines. Again, McKinnon (2013) claimed that animal testing is not entirely accurate because human body is different from the anatomy of animals. There are issues concerning the genetic predisposition which can lead to variable results. The same goes for the fact that a medicine might not be effective on other people simply because each body is made with a different feature on it.
Allin, J. (2011). The Chemical Horse - Drugs in Racing. Horsefund.org. Retrieved 22 June 2014, from http://www.horsefund.org/the-chemical-horse-part-7.php
Hursthouse, R., 2000, Ethics, Humans and Other Animals, London: Routledge.
MacKinnon, B. (2013). Ethics: Theory and Contemporary Issues, Concise Edition (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
McKinnon, B., & Fiala, A. (2013). Ethics: Theory & Contemporary Issues (8th ed.). Boston: Wadsworth College Cengage Learning.
PETA, (2014). Smoking Experiments on Animals. Retrieved 22 June 2014, from http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-experimentation/animals-used-experimentation-factsheets/smoking-experiments-animals/
Singer, P. (1977). Animal liberation. Towards an end to man's inhumanity to animals. Granada Publishing Ltd..