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e-book Strange Animals: What They Are and the Implications of Their Existence

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Drug D was taken by all the animals up to huge doses with no ill effect. Which of those drugs should we give to some healthy young human volunteers as the first dose to humans all other things being equal? To the undecided and non-prejudiced the answer is, of course, obvious. It would also be obvious to a normal 12 year old child An alternative, acceptable answer would be, none of those drugs because even drug D could cause damage to humans. That is true, which is why Drug D would be given as a single, very small dose to human volunteers under tightly controlled and regulated conditions.

Animal experiments only benefit human beings if their results are valid and can be applied to human beings.

Moreover, a great deal of animal experimentation has been misleading and resulted in either withholding of drugs, sometimes for years, that were subsequently found to be highly beneficial to humans, or to the release and use of drugs that, though harmless to animals, have actually contributed to human suffering and death. Animal rights extremists often portray those who experiment on animals as being so cruel as to have forfeited any own moral standing.


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But the argument is about whether the experiments are morally right or wrong. The general moral character of the experimenter is irrelevant. What is relevant is the ethical approach of the experimenter to each experiment. John P Gluck has suggested that this is often lacking:. The lack of ethical self-examination is common and generally involves the denial or avoidance of animal suffering, resulting in the dehumanization of researchers and the ethical degradation of their research subjects. The use of animals in research should evolve out of a strong sense of ethical self-examination.

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Ethical self-examination involves a careful self-analysis of one's own personal and scientific motives. Moreover, it requires a recognition of animal suffering and a satisfactory working through of that suffering in terms of one's ethical values. The issue of animal experiments is straightforward if we accept that animals have rights: The possible benefits to humanity of performing the experiment are completely irrelevant to the morality of the case, because rights should never be violated except in obvious cases like self-defence.

And as one philosopher has written, if this means that there are some things that humanity will never be able to learn, so be it. This bleak result of deciding the morality of experimenting on animals on the basis of rights is probably why people always justify animal experiments on consequentialist grounds; by showing that the benefits to humanity justify the suffering of the animals involved. Those in favour of animal experiments say that the good done to human beings outweighs the harm done to animals.

This is a consequentialist argument, because it looks at the consequences of the actions under consideration. It can't be used to defend all forms of experimentation since there are some forms of suffering that are probably impossible to justify even if the benefits are exceptionally valuable to humanity. The consequentialist justification of animal experimentation can be demonstrated by comparing the moral consequences of doing or not doing an experiment.

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This process can't be used in a mathematical way to help people decide ethical questions in practice, but it does demonstrate the issues very clearly. If performing an experiment would cause more harm than not performing it, then it is ethically wrong to perform that experiment.

The harm that will result from not doing the experiment is the result of multiplying three things together:. In the theoretical sum above, the harm the experiment will do to animals is weighed against the harm done to humans by not doing the experiment. So the equation is completely useless as a way of deciding whether it is ethically acceptable to perform an experiment, because until the experiment is carried out, no-one can know the value of the benefit that it produces.

Most ethicists think that we have a greater moral responsibility for the things we do than for the things we fail to do; i. In the animal experiment context, if the experiment takes place, the experimenter will carry out actions that harm the animals involved. If the experiment does not take place the experimenter will not do anything. This may cause harm to human beings because they won't benefit from a cure for their disease because the cure won't be developed. And so if we want to continue with the arithmetic that we started in the section above, we need to put an additional, and different, factor on each side of the equation to deal with the different moral values of acts and omissions.

One writer suggests that we can cut out a lot of philosophising about animal experiments by using this test:. Sadly, there are a number of examples where researchers have been prepared to experiment on human beings in ways that should not have been permitted on animals. And another philosopher suggests that it would anyway be more effective to research on normal human beings:. Whatever benefits animal experimentation is thought to hold in store for us, those very same benefits could be obtained through experimenting on humans instead of animals.

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Indeed, given that problems exist because scientists must extrapolate from animal models to humans, one might think there are good scientific reasons for preferring human subjects. The Use of Animals in Medical Research, If those human subjects were normal and able to give free and informed consent to the experiment then this might not be morally objectionable.

In November the European Union put forward proposals to revise the directive for the protection of animals used in scientific experiments in line with the three R principle of replacing, reducing and refining the use of animals in experiments. The proposals have three aims:.

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The proposed directive covers all live non-human vertebrate animals intended for experiments plus certain other species likely to experience pain, and also animals specifically bred so that their organs or tissue can be used in scientific procedures. The proposal also introduces a ban on the use of great apes - chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orangutans - in scientific procedures, other than in exceptional circumstances, but there is no proposal to phase out the use of other non-human primates in the immediate foreseeable future.

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Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets CSS if you are able to do so. This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Water Buffalo Purebred wild water buffaloes may already have disappeared from the world, scientists acknowledge. Domestic varieties or hybrids may be all that remain in Southeast Asia, according to some estimates, or there could be a couple of hundred pure water buffaloes left or possibly thousands.

Researchers do agree, however, that the species is endangered. And the water buffalo has already been eliminated from swaths of Laos, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Chinese Alligator This small, freshwater crocodilian species now numbers fewer than in the wild, mostly restricted to a small reserve in the Anhui province of China, along the lower Yangtze River. Habitat destruction, particularly dam building, has devastated the alligator population, but hunting has also taken a toll. Alligator meat is promoted as a way to cure the common cold and to prevent cancer, and alligator organs are also said to have medicinal properties.

Captive breeding, in an effort to restore the species, has proved successful, and there are now thousands of captive animals and new efforts to reintroduce them into the wild. Asian Elephant Asian elephants were once thought to be relatively immune to poaching—unlike their African relatives, only some males, instead of all adults, have ivory tusks—but that is not true.

The animals are killed for their meat, hide, tusks and other body parts. In Myanmar, for example, small pieces of elephant foot are turned into a paste to treat hernias. Musk Deer Seven species of musk deer are found in Asia, and all are on the decline. Thousands of male musk deer have been killed for their musk pods, a gland that produces the musk that gives the animals their name and has been used in perfumes. Musk deer meat is considered a local delicacy, and musk is still used in traditional medicines for treating cardiac, circulatory and respiratory problems.

Sun Bear The sun bear is just one of several bear species killed for its gallbladder, which is used for treating everything from burns to asthma to cancer. Their population has declined by more than 30 percent in the past three decades due to hunting and loss of their forest habitat. The killing of sun bears is illegal throughout their home range in Southeast Asia, but these laws are rarely enforced.

In addition, commercial farms that raise bears to milk their gallbladders for bile restock by capturing wild bears. Humans killed the animals for their skins and to eliminate competition for water between the zebras and livestock. The zebras can now be found only in northern Kenya and a few parts of Ethiopia. The Kenyan government developed a plan in to conserve the remaining population.

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Tiger While tigers originally lived across Asia, from Turkey to the eastern coast of Russia, their range has now dwindled to roughly a dozen countries in East and South Asia, and as few as 3, tigers may be left in the wild. Their decline is the result of the use of tiger skins, bones, teeth and claws in traditional medicine; they are believed to cure toothaches and protect against malicious curses, among other maladies. Banteng The population of wild banteng, a species of cattle native to southeast Asia, is now estimated to be somewhere between 2, and 5,, a decrease of more than 90 percent since the s.


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While land development and agriculture pose grave problems for the endangered species, poaching is a continued and direct threat, driven by the market for their horns, coveted as hunting trophies and use in traditional remedies. In , banteng became the first endangered species to be successfully cloned, and researchers hope to use this technology for conservation purposes in the future.