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Animal Testing

(formerly 'meat eaters')

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FrancisM FrancisM VIC Posts: 62
11 2 May 2011
Karen said:
I think your analogy is interesting, yet Magel questions the legitimacy of one and the same practice (animal testing). You are questioning two different practices (cheering vs playing). Magel's comparison also points to a paradoxical justification (the likeness in embodiment to humans), whereas yours identifies two different, consistent qualities -- location and physical aptitude.

Perhaps it will be easier for us to understand if you can explain what similarities you believe there are between humans and animals that makes it okay to experiment on them, and what dissimilarities you think exist which makes it morally okay to do so?
Hi Karen,

I agree the analogy I tried to make was a bit tenuous, but I think that's actually a limitation of my noggin rather than the principle being invalid. I'll ponder on it more and something will probably (eventually) come to me.
Essentially though, my argument is that Magel's comparison isn't actually paradoxical. It is possible for two things to be alike in some regards and unlike in other regards. If I take Magel's example to the extreme, we want to test on tissue samples of humans because they are like us (i.e. they have a comparable physiological response in a very narrow field of applications) and because they are unlike us (they are not 'aware', or at least we don't believe so).
In fact, exactly the same areas of comparison are employed in support of human testing. Animals are like us insofar as they have (to varying extents depending on species, genetic difference, etc.) somewhat similar physiological and chemical responses and functions. Animals are unlike us insofar as they are in some moral way not equivalent (not as intelligent, depending on your interpretation of intelligence, although Peter Singer rightly has some comments to make about this; not self-aware, although in reality this is not a genuinely applied criteria; etc.).

So in essence, I think Magel's is pretending something is a paradox by clever use of language, rather than through any logical argument.

I do want to point out here that I believe a lot of pro-animal-research folk (and pro-eating-meat, which includes me) do not hold their position for logically considered reasons. I think the reasons came after some intuitive feeling that animals were inferior, or for our use in some way.
I think that very same thing applies to many anti-animal-research folk; the idea of subjecting animals to experiments intuitively horrifies them, and the pseudo-reasoning follows.

Anyway, in summary, I think Magel is playing a linguistic trick to make the animal research issue seem paradoxical. Furthermore, I think that animal research *can* be useful because of a lot of biological crossover between humans and non-human animals (crossover which I believe is, frankly, undeniable). The moral issue is one which warrants a lot of consideration, but one in which I think for a great many people, the moral view comes before the reasoning so the reasoning is inherently suspect. Open engagement in discussion and critique with a willingness to reconsider one's own views (including me being willing to review my own) is probably about the best way I can see to address that cart-before-horse issue.


And to specifically answer why I can personally justify testing on animals? I treat those animals with utmost care while they are alive, do the best I can to ensure that their suffering during or as a result of testing is minimised. I only engage in animal research in which I see a real potential benefit (typically to humans; and increased knowledge can be a benefit) coming from it. Finally, I am quite simply biased in favor of promoting the survival and well-being of my own species. That last one is not a valid or well supported argument; I'm still feeling it out in my mind.
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Compostkitty Compostkitty NSW Posts: 780
12 2 May 2011
I'm going to say trying to justify animal testing on an animal rights forum wasn't a smart move.
i mean sure you can put your points across and we will read and see where you seem to be coming from.
but at the end of the day animal testing is ridiculous! i'm always hearing how advance science is getting these days  surely they could of come up with a way that we don't need to harm any creature including humans.

i hope you eventually find a way to improve your job to "help" human beings......
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xMISSMONSTERx xMISSMONSTERx WA Posts: 2582
13 2 May 2011
FrancisM said:
And to specifically answer why I can personally justify testing on animals? I treat those animals with utmost care while they are alive, do the best I can to ensure that their suffering during or as a result of testing is minimised. I only engage in animal research in which I see a real potential benefit (typically to humans; and increased knowledge can be a benefit) coming from it. Finally, I am quite simply biased in favor of promoting the survival and well-being of my own species. That last one is not a valid or well supported argument; I'm still feeling it out in my mind.
That really isn't a good justification for inflicting pain and suffering on any sentient being in my eyes.

Most humans seem to get very mixed up in the 'my species, their species' concern. Every animal on this earth is here for a specific reason, whether or not we can see that. We are all part of an ecosystem and can benefit mutually from eachothers existence.

And I think magels agenda was to invoke thought.
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FrancisM FrancisM VIC Posts: 62
14 2 May 2011
xMISSMONSTERx said:
FrancisM said:
And to specifically answer why I can personally justify testing on animals? I treat those animals with utmost care while they are alive, do the best I can to ensure that their suffering during or as a result of testing is minimised. I only engage in animal research in which I see a real potential benefit (typically to humans; and increased knowledge can be a benefit) coming from it. Finally, I am quite simply biased in favor of promoting the survival and well-being of my own species. That last one is not a valid or well supported argument; I'm still feeling it out in my mind.
That really isn't a good justification for inflicting pain and suffering on any sentient being in my eyes.

Most humans seem to get very mixed up in the 'my species, their species' concern. Every animal on this earth is here for a specific reason, whether or not we can see that. We are all part of an ecosystem and can benefit mutually from eachothers existence.

And I think magels agenda was to invoke thought.
I'll be honest - I don't think it is reasonable for only one side to have to justify its position. It is quite fair for me to have to justify my weighting the needs and desires of members own species over the needs and desires of other species. Equally, I think it is fair for those who feel that all species should be treated as equals (or all sentient species, whatever criteria may be set for 'sentient') to have to provide justification for that.
I see experimentation on animals for some purposes (not all) and when there are not reasonable alternatives (e.g. when investigating systemic effects where tissue samples are inadequate) as morally acceptable; particularly when the quality of life of that animal is substantially good and suffering is minimised. Then again, I also think that if animals were raised in a healthy and relatively unconstrained environment, lived comfortable lives, and were killed in a painless and non-distressing way then meat production could be ethically acceptable. But I'm very open to debate on that too.

Also, I don't actually believe that there is any 'reason' that any species is here apart from that it turned out to have good survivability up until now'. The absence of reason doesn't mean we should use animals as we see fit with no consideration to their experience, though.

And if Magel's agenda was to invoke thought, it looks like he's doing pretty well.
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FrancisM FrancisM VIC Posts: 62
15 2 May 2011
Compostkitty: I think perhaps on an animal welfare/rights site is the most important place to discuss animal testing. If I only ever discussed it among other researchers, then I'd never have anyone to challenge my views; it'd just be a big groupthink.
Whether you consider animal testing is ridiculous depends on a whole range of things - the value of human and animal health and wellbeing; the relative moral value and cost of suffering vs. killing; whether you have already been convinced that animal research is a total waste of time or money because better alternatives are available.

In terms of alternatives: for some things, alternatives are indeed available which is excellent. Over time, I think alternatives (tissue culture, computer modelling systems, etc.) will replace animal-based testing procedures in some or many areas. I don't believe that these alternatives are sufficiently advanced to wholesale replace animal testing at this stage, so if the research is valuable animals  (human or non-human) must be used in it.
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xMISSMONSTERx xMISSMONSTERx WA Posts: 2582
16 2 May 2011
FrancisM said:
xMISSMONSTERx said:
FrancisM said:
And to specifically answer why I can personally justify testing on animals? I treat those animals with utmost care while they are alive, do the best I can to ensure that their suffering during or as a result of testing is minimised. I only engage in animal research in which I see a real potential benefit (typically to humans; and increased knowledge can be a benefit) coming from it. Finally, I am quite simply biased in favor of promoting the survival and well-being of my own species. That last one is not a valid or well supported argument; I'm still feeling it out in my mind.
That really isn't a good justification for inflicting pain and suffering on any sentient being in my eyes.

Most humans seem to get very mixed up in the 'my species, their species' concern. Every animal on this earth is here for a specific reason, whether or not we can see that. We are all part of an ecosystem and can benefit mutually from eachothers existence.

And I think magels agenda was to invoke thought.
I'll be honest - I don't think it is reasonable for only one side to have to justify its position. It is quite fair for me to have to justify my weighting the needs and desires of members own species over the needs and desires of other species. Equally, I think it is fair for those who feel that all species should be treated as equals (or all sentient species, whatever criteria may be set for 'sentient') to have to provide justification for that.
I see experimentation on animals for some purposes (not all) and when there are not reasonable alternatives (e.g. when investigating systemic effects where tissue samples are inadequate) as morally acceptable; particularly when the quality of life of that animal is substantially good and suffering is minimised. Then again, I also think that if animals were raised in a healthy and relatively unconstrained environment, lived comfortable lives, and were killed in a painless and non-distressing way then meat production could be ethically acceptable. But I'm very open to debate on that too.

Also, I don't actually believe that there is any 'reason' that any species is here apart from that it turned out to have good survivability up until now'. The absence of reason doesn't mean we should use animals as we see fit with no consideration to their experience, though.

And if Magel's agenda was to invoke thought, it looks like he's doing pretty well.
I just don't think that's morally right.

If the tables were turned, and you were the one being tested on - how would you feel about that? How is testing on any animal different if they are similar enough to humans to be tested on to begin with?


Why should animals not have similar rights to humans?
Apart from obvious issues such as being able to sue others, or form civil unions etc.
I believe they should still have similar fundamental rights, how is that not a hard idea for one to understand?

maybe instead of the senseless murder of thousands of animals annually for 'scientific purposes' we should be working on alternative means to reach the same outcome.
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FrancisM FrancisM VIC Posts: 62
17 2 May 2011
xMISSMONSTERx said:
I just don't think that's morally right.

If the tables were turned, and you were the one being tested on - how would you feel about that? How is testing on any animal different if they are similar enough to humans to be tested on to begin with?

Why should animals not have similar rights to humans?
Apart from obvious issues such as being able to sue others, or form civil unions etc.
I believe they should still have similar fundamental rights, how is that not a hard idea for one to understand?

maybe instead of the senseless murder of thousands of animals annually for 'scientific purposes' we should be working on alternative means to reach the same outcome.
It is perfectly within your rights to have the view that it isn't acceptable to test on animals, and it's good for me to try to understand your reasons because that could effect my views.

I'm sure I'd hate to be tested on, but to then apply my views on it to a non-human animal would be anthropomorphism in the extreme - and such anthropomorphism is actually very problematic (as it leads to treating animals like humans, which isn't necessarily healthy for them). Mind you, I'm not going to claim the animals *like* to be tested on, just that we can't necessarily apply human standards to animals directly either.

I agree that animals should have some similar rights; and indeed they do. Codified in law (such as Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1986, and its subsequent amendments), and codes (such as the Australian code of practice for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes, 7th edition, 2004). In fact, the rights of animals used in research are much greater than those used in most agriculture, or in fact those unwanted pests found in the home (e.g. you would never get ethics approval to kill a rat using a rat trap in research, with the possible exception of to actually try to build a more humane rat trap). When, how and to what extent it is acceptable to cause injury and suffering to an animal, and indeed how they can be killed, is regulated. University animal ethics committees in Australia are required to have a vet, and also a person to represent animal welfare unaffiliated with the university (among other things) and ideally nominated by or a member of an animal welfare group. The university I am at also has an vet working as the Animal Welfare Officer. The animals are certainly not afforded full human rights, but if I (for example) performed surgery on an animal from which it would recover I would have to be performing sterile surgery, administering painkillers prior to and (depending on the surgery) for some days after surgery. I would have to complete monitoring sheets to ensure the animal is healthy. If there was any indication of trouble I would have to contact the Animal Welfare Officer, and if the animal was in substantial untreatable distress, that animal would be put down irrespective of its perceived investment value in research (e.g. 6 months of reward-based training).

I don't believe that most animal research is senseless murder - mine certainly isn't. If senseless murder-by-research is taking place, then the ethics committees of the relevant institutions need to be reviewed. Some of my research simply cannot be conducted in any other way, and I believe the research is sufficiently valuable that it should be done. Then again, I would. Otherwise I wouldn't be doing it.
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Karen Karen Australia Posts: 993
18 2 May 2011
Unleashed Admin
Thanks for taking the time to respond, FrancisM.

FrancisM said:
Animals are unlike us insofar as they are in some moral way not equivalent
...because...?

FrancisM said:
I treat those animals with utmost care while they are alive, do the best I can to ensure that their suffering during or as a result of testing is minimised.
Pardon me for playing devil's advocate here, but if you don't believe there is anything morally wrong with experimenting and inflicting pain on animals why is there any need to minimise their suffering at all?
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..1 ..1 TAS Posts: 2265
19 2 May 2011
FrancisM said:
And to specifically answer why I can personally justify testing on animals? I treat those animals with utmost care while they are alive, do the best I can to ensure that their suffering during or as a result of testing is minimised. I only engage in animal research in which I see a real potential benefit (typically to humans; and increased knowledge can be a benefit) coming from it. Finally, I am quite simply biased in favor of promoting the survival and well-being of my own species. That last one is not a valid or well supported argument; I'm still feeling it out in my mind.
This made me feel rather sick.
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Nobody Nobody QLD Posts: 593
20 2 May 2011
Human babies have low intelligence - but we don't not keep them in cages and perform painful tests on them.
The species really doesn't matter. There is little difference between humans and animals. We're all earthlings. We all feel joy, love, sadness, anger, fear and pain. We all deserve free lives.
Using and abusing any species in any way is wrong.

"All beings tremble before violence.  All fear death.  All love life.  See yourself in others. Then whom can you hurt? What harm can you do?
-Buddha
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