Skip to main content

Table 2 Responses to the ‘characteristics of non-human-animals’ arguments and counterarguments

From: The ethics of animal research: a survey of pediatric health care workers

Respondent group Is this a good enough reason to justify using animals in medical research? Do any of the following responses make it harder for someone to justify animal research using the argument [i.e. make the argument much less convincing]? Of those convinced by the argument: proportion who judged the counterargument to make the argument much less convincing
Yes No Yes No
Argument (A)/counterargument (CA)
A1. Animals harm other animals.
Pediatrician 1/47 (2%) 46/47 (98%)    
Nurse/RT 4/63 (6%) 59/63 (94%)    
CA: It is unclear why we should take this (we may harm animals) as moral advice from animals, but not take other moral advice from animals (for example, animals rape and kill members of their own species would mean we may rape and kill humans). In other words, animals are not qualified to give moral advice.
Pediatrician    31/47 (66%) 16/47 (34%) 1/1 (100%)
Nurse/RT    37/61 (61%) 24/61 (39%) 2/4 (50%)
A2: Animals cannot really feel anything. They are simply living machines.
Pediatrician 0/45 (0%) 45/45 (100%)    
Nurse/RT 1/63 (2%) 62/63 (98%)    
CA: This would mean that a pet cat or dog is simply a living machine, without any feelings like happiness, sadness, fear or pain.
Pediatrician    33/46 (72%) 13/46 (28%) -
Nurse/RT    36/62 (58%) 26/62 (42%) 0/1 (0%)
A3: Animals are property
Pediatrician 1/42 (2%) 41/42 (98%)    
Nurse/RT 2/58 (3%) 56/58 (97%)    
CA: Since animals can desire things, intentionally act to fulfill those desires, and can understand (even dimly) that it is me that wants something and is trying to get it, they are not simply property.
Pediatrician    30/41 (73%) 11/41 (27%) 0/1 (0%)
Nurse/RT    36/59 (61%) 23/59 (39%) 0/2 (0%)