From the researches done in animal experimentation, debates have been held globally about the ethics of the experiments. Well, apart from those who are on the side that opposes the experimentations and argue that it should end, others argue that while it is wrong to carry out such experiments to these helpless animals, it should go on brought about by an a lot of scientific resources that animal models provide. These two sides represent two common positions at the opposing ends on the debate over the ethics of animal testing.
For the cases against animal experimentation, they greatly support their arguments by questioning about the moral status of an animal. They have argued and agreed that animals have at least some moral status. This was not the case in the past where animals were treating of animals was never about respecting the innate rights that they had, but was about maintaining human standards of dignity. The question over the years has been shifting from whether animals have any moral status at all to how much moral status they have and what rights are accompanied by the status.
These people do not mean that animals should be entitled to the same rights as human beings. Instead, animals should be awarded the same level, if not less, of respectful treatment as humans. This means they should not be forced into doing us services or be treated as a means to further our goals, as the laboratory experimentations. Its claimed that moral status comes from the capacity to suffer or to enjoy life. Many animals are just like humans, can feel pain and experience pleasure. Peter Singer in his book, All Animals Are Equal he states that The question is not, Can they reason? Nor, can they talk? But, can they suffer? Therefore, they might be having the same moral status as people, and so they deserve equal treatment. Granting of less moral status to animals is referred to as speciesism which should not be the case since just because we are humans is not fair to declare animals less morally significant.
On the other side of the debate, animals cannot be considered as morally equal to humans. They have said that the benefits to people from animal experimentation exceed or outweighs the harm done to them. The idea of a moral community, in this case, is used to show how animals dont deserve the same level of respectful treatment as human beings.
Moral community is a group of individuals sharing some common traits. Therefore, they take on certain responsibilities towards each other and have specific rights like making independent decisions and with this comes the responsibility to respect each others independence. Animals could not be categorized in moral communities since they do not have the cognitive capabilities of humans and still dont seem to have or pursue specific life goals. With animals excluded from being in a moral community, in this case, they certainly need not be granted all natural human rights and thus, can be exploited for research purposes.
One major drawback with this argument, however, is that infants and the mentally challenged usually lack cognitive abilities and therefore dont fully qualify to be included in moral communities. So, should they also be of lower moral status and be denied full normal human rights? Can they also be test subjects for laboratory researches? But many people are uncomfortable with such a scenario and philosophers have various reasons to put all human beings in the human moral community. Julia also states in her book; Animals, Moral Risk, and Moral Considerbility, that, It is unwise to use humans as a basis for animals moral status since its not clear how much moral status marginal humans have.
Singer, Peter (2007). All animals are equal. LaFollette, Hugh ed. Blackwell Publishing.Tanner, Julia K.H. (2007) Animals, moral risk and moral considerability, Durham theses, Durham University.
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