In all matters, including medicine, the well-being of the human race comes before any other consideration. This is the justification for the use of nonhuman animal testing in medicine. Of course this argument brings issues into play that are both ethical and professional and need exploring before a definitive answer can be given.
The Rights of “Lesser Life Forms”
Animals have rights. This is a statement that very few people will disagree with. Animal cruelty as an end unto itself (i.e. for entertainment) is just wrong. Short of being a sociopath I really can’t imagine anyone saying or thinking otherwise. The real ethical question comes when humanity can benefit from a “cruelty” committed against an animal.
As far as life on this planet goes, we appear to be at the pinnacle of creation. Though we have only been here for less than the blinking of an eye, as far as our small planet is concerned, we have achieved heights unparalleled by any species to grace the world before us. Because of this we have looked at the rest of existence as lesser than us and therefore present for our use.
A Respect for All Life
This view of superiority has begun to diminish only very lately. The first reason for this elevated respect for nonhuman animals comes from the same source as our concern for our fellow human beings: compassion. As a species humans have, for whatever reason, developed the ability to conceptualize ourselves in the place of other things we observe. While this ability is strongest when dealing with other humans, it is even possible to do this with humans. This is of course followed by hard reasoning as to why nonhuman animals do have rights.
Peter Singer, a professor in bioethics, is believed by some to have begun the modern animal rights movements with his writings. In his book Animal Rights and Human Obligations Singer illustrated animal rights as the next logical step to follow those against racism and sexism. He describes our current state as a speciesism where we have decided that we are superior to animals for no better reason than any discrimination within our own race has ever had.
Ideologies such as these lead to the formation of animal rights organizations. Probably the most well known animal rights group is People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). This organization is against everything from animal testing, to meat eating, and even pet owning. On the Frequently Asked Questions section of their website they even speak in support of organizations such as the Animal Liberation Front, an organization that resorts to destruction of property and vandalism in service to the cause.
Overall there are an abundant number of sights on the internet of organizations against animal testing. All of them operate on the basic premises that we shouldn’t cause harm to animals and even use the argument that animal testing doesn’t work. These last arguments will be addressed later.
Why Animal Testing is done