Ashley Caras Ms. AdelmanGreat Ideas28 January 2018Animal Rights EthicsThe rights of animals is a long-disputed topic. Animals are denied basic rights of life regularly for the sole purpose of human benefit, which has been so long-integrated into human culture that it has been widely accepted as justified. Much of modern medicine came from the process of animal experimentation, but concern arises from the morality of this way of testing. Is it ethical to test vaccines and other products on animals? Animal testing is a morally unjust method of experimentation and should only be done when absolutely necessary. Bioethicist Samual Garner claims that “(animal research) is a choice that we make, a choice that its proponents believe is a necessary means to the end of further medical advances. Such advances are undoubtedly of significant moral importance, but even if we grant the assumption that animals are necessary for medical progress, this does not equate to a moral justification” (Garner). I agree with his stance on this topic because testing on animals has become such an integral part of the research process that scientists deem it necessary to do in order to test the safety of a product and work out potential issues. Even so, the amount of animals that have died for and by humans well exceeds any justification that it serves for the “greater good”, especially because humans are the only population that reap the benefits of such advancements in medicine. Millions of animals are forced to sacrifice their lives for the sake of human convenience, which is morally incorrect as they are unfairly placed in situations that in no way benefit them. By experimenting on animals, one is forcing them into further submission by denying them of any form of rights and making life-threatening decisions for them although they can neither consent nor deny. In an explanation of Kantian ethics in “Ethics at a Glance,” Dr. Deb Bennett-Woods explains that “we should not experiment on people solely for the benefit of others; and, if it were wrong to involve one set of subjects in dangerous research without their consent, then it would be wrong to involve any subject in dangerous research without their consent.” (Bennett-Woods 20). To clarify the message that he is summarizing, if consent is what is necessary to perform an experiment, then all experiments (besides those of which are explicitly saving the life of that individual) can only be performed under direct consent of the subject. In this case, animals, who cannot consent, should be pardoned from experiments. In support of this, Garner states that “while nonhuman animals cannot provide consent to research participation, we have reasoned in the case of humans that an inability to consent entitles an individual to greater protection and not lesser protection” (Garner). Vulnerable members of the population who cannot consent on their own, namely those with disabilities, infants, and the elderly, are given extensive protection, so innocent animals should be allowed the same basic rights. Animals are subjected to tests because humans find them to be dispensable and lesser in value. Immanuel Kant offers another opinion relating to the topic. In his words, “if they are beings without reason, (they) have only a relative worth, as means, and are therefore called things, whereas rational beings are called persons because their nature already marks them out as an end in itself, that is, as something that may not be used merely as a means” (Kant 79). This idea supports the idea that animals deserve to be treated like things because they were not perceived as rational. I disagree with a portion of this idea, but animal neurology in the 1700s was limited, so the flaws in Kant’s argument can be overlooked to support the underlying meaning. The message asserts that: if a being possesses rational thought, meaning to make decisions based on reason and logic, then one is considered morally equal. It has been proven that animals do, in fact, possess logical, problem-solving capabilities, along with emotional responses and understanding, therefore proving them to be capable of rational thought. In this sense, it is entirely wrong to deny them of their basic rights of life for the sole purpose of another species of rational thinking beings. If the right to life was based off of brain functionality then anyone other than educated, fully able adults should be given the same rights as animals have now. It is not, however, and that argument for rationality is only used when justifying animal abuse, proving that animal testing is wholly unethical. The morals of Kantian ethics and Garner’s point of view both agree that someone cannot be used solely for the benefit of others unless by a consenting individual. In Garner’s opinion this applies to the unethical nature of animal testing, where vaccinations and other medicines are tested to assess their safety for human use. I agree with this stance on the rights of individual humans and animals, although Kant offers some contrasting viewpoints that I do not necessarily stand by. In Practical Philosophy, Kant alludes that he does not believe that animals should be granted the same rights as humans due to their “irrational” nature. I disagree with this idea, not only because rational thinking should not be the basis of value of a being, but also because tests on animal cognitivity depict strong rationality. Additionally, inhumane experimentation takes the lives of millions, whereas more reliable results could easily be contracted from additional research instead, so lab animals are not fulfilling any dire need that humanity necessitates. For these reasons, animal testing and all other forms of animal abuse are not ethical. Works CitedBennett-Woods, Deb. “Kantian Ethics.” Ethics at a Glance, Regis University, 2005,, Samual. “The ‘Necessity’ Of Animal Research Does Not Mean It’s Ethical.” NPR, NPR,  ____14 Feb. 2016, Accessed 29 Jan. 2018.Kant, Immanuel, et al. Practical Philosophy. Cambridge University Press, 2008.

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