Monday, October 24, 2011

Bio Ethics

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For years, humans have been using animals for the testing of hundreds, if not

thousands, of products. We have also been using them for the sake of the furtherance of

science. One question on my mind has always been whether animals have the same level

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of consciousness as humans. Another burning question is if animals should be afforded

the same rights of humans or are they to remain within the category of property. If so, do

we reserve the right to do what we want of these creatures?

According to various scientists, the idea of consciousness varies. Descartes says that

animals possess six basic emotions, those being love, hate, astonishment, desire, joy, and

sorrow. However, according to James, he only defines four emotions within the animal

kingdom. Those would be love, fear, grief, and rage. Then again, Watson presumed that

only three emotions are present in animals; fear, anger, and love. (Masson & McCarthy,

15). Whether or not animals can actually express or experience emotions have been in

question. In some Western cultures, it is felt that since animals lack a language, that

emotions cannot be expressed. With that being said, an animal without language can be

compared to a person who is mute and lacks the ability to effectively communicate.

Although these people cannot communicate, that does not mean they cannot feel love or

express rage and anger. The same would be true for the severely retarded. They to can

express all the emotions afforded to man. It can be said that both humans and animals

use emotions for the art of survival. Avoidance of danger is also motivated by emotions

such as fear. (Prior, 15)

Throughout history, man has used animals for a variety of purposes. Those being

food, clothing, sacrifice to gods, and as man’s best friend. While I agree that we must

allow animals certain rights; I also feel that certain rights cannot be afforded. One such

right would be the right to freely multiply. One Center, the Johns Hopkins Center for

Alternatives to Animal Testing (CATT), has made it their mission to explore alternatives

in hopes of substituting other avenues in place of animals. Even though CATT does not

ban the use of animals; they do promote a system of using replacements. (Barnard, 18)

What will be the ultimate fate of animals in the hands of us? Whether for or against

the use of animals for the name of science, at the present time, even I cannot see another

choice. Although the continued use will be a debate for years to come, I see the use of

animals as a far better cry than the use of human beings. I do not agree that animals have

no conscience or that they cannot express emotions. However, with my limited

knowledge in this area, I feel that they do not express or feel emotions in the same respect

as humans. According to Palmer, it is felt that it is still necessary to use animals instead

of humans. The wait for human volunteers would be long and the impact would be

detrimental to many valuable advances in science. (Palmer, 1)

With everything that I have read on this subject, perhaps it was Palmer who said it

best. He stated “Nature itself does not guarantee a right to life for any living creature, or

form, it is humans with the capacity to acquire and evaluate knowledge, that have the

moral and ethical responsibility to maintain the balance.

Masson, J.M. and McCarthy, S. (15). When elephants weep, New York Delocorte Press

Palmer, T. (1). The case for human beings. The Atlantic, 6, 8-88

Prior, K., (15) On behavior, Washington Sunshine Books I

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