The Evasive Tactics and Deceptive Arguments of Animal Research Proponents
Animal research is generally regarded as the most controversial of
animal rights causes, and even many animal activists are divided on the
issue. Although the anti-vivisection movement is undoubtedly burdened by
this obstacle and others, it is also graced with the advantage in
ethical consistency and common sense.
When examined carefully, the argument against animal research is so
easy to explain and understand (and the case for it so weak and
unreasonable), that it would be amusing if not for the nefarious bigotry
and selfishness of its most ardent defenders and the terror, misery, and
violence that encompasses the lives of its victims.
When presenting the issue to the public, an animal rights activist
(or ARA) should not only be able to argue his/her own side effectively,
but also that of their opponents. Too often animal rights debates falter
and lose perspective because the animal activist is not prepared for the
enemy's attack strategy, as flimsy as it might be.
Due to the inarticulate nature of many scientists, and the illogic of
their ethical views and ideology, animal research proponents rely on a
standard catalog of remarks, excuses, and argumentative tactics designed
to divert attention from the topic, put the ARA on the defensive, and
spare themselves the embarrassment and discomfort of being shown unable
to answer fundamental questions and criticism in a radio, TV, or live
debate forum. The animal activist can capitalize on this. Being able to
anticipate the objections and counter them keeps the argument focused
and robs the research proponent of their meager verbal arsenal--thus
exposing them to the public, and hopefully getting a few fence-sitters
off their behinds..
This essay will endeavor to list these evasive tactics and strategies,
explain their intent, and provide thorough, effective, and irrefutable
responses to educate and encourage animal activists to argue more
But first, it is necessary to comment on one argument that is
frequently used by the anti-vivisection movement. This is the Fraud
argument. In brief, it states that animal research is primarily done to
keep scientists employed and protect companies from lawsuits. It also
contends that animal research is unnecessary because it can be replaced
by computer models and cell cultures. And furthermore, it reveals that
animal research is dangerous to humans, because the results are assumed
to be applicable to human anatomy--and many times they are not
While there is nothing wrong with any of these points, the Fraud
argument tends to be narrow-sighted in assuming that people would be
persuaded by this, since there are many examples of animal exploitation
(such as meat eating, hunting, fishing, rodeos) which are certainly not
"necessary"--and yet continue.
Furthermore, it tends to portray ALL researchers as being driven by
monetary as opposed to (misguided) altruistic incentives. This can
provide the research proponents with an opportunity to divert the topic
from a defense of animal research (and the weak arguments supporting it)
to a defense of the scientist's character--which can be successfully
mounted in some cases--to the detriment of the animal activist's
credibility, and political cause.
It also inevitably leads into a technical debate between scientists who
support animal research, and those that don't. And the public is more
likely going to trust the side that is providing them with medical
treatments and drugs. This argument approach can be too soft, and does
not tackle the big issues--which concern ethics, religion, and human
1) Know thy enemy
Before we examine the arguments of the animal research proponent, it is
important to consider three factors that nurture the vivisection belief
a) The first is the mindset of vivisectors. To best illustrate this, let
us imagine that a man is walking along the street and he sees person A,
who has a crippling disease, and person B, who is healthy. A typical
compassionate reaction from the man would be: "Poor A, I feel so sorry
for him, if only I could do something to help." The man may decide to
offer money, food, shelter or companionship.
But if the Man is an animal researcher, he would think: "Poor A. I feel
so sorry for him, if only I could--wait! I got it! I will find a way to
give B the disease, then try to cure him! When i do I'll confirm it by
doing the same to C,D,E,F,G-Z, then give A the cure! This way I can cure
In other words--killing Peter to heal Paul. CAUSING suffering and death
in the hope of preventing it.
Animal researchers, and many other scientists, tend to be narrow-minded
thinkers. Narrow minded thinkers have difficulty empathizing with the
suffering of others, and an even greater problem contemplating the
ethical or environmental ramifications of their actions. They lack
This is the reason researchers who recently proposed they could extend
the human lifespan by 200 years (based on genetic experiments done to
insects and rodents) were perplexed when confronted by individuals who
were opposed to the work on the grounds of overpopulation and resource
These researchers never stopped to examine the implications of their
work, whether it is the effects on society, or the suffering of a
genetically engineered mouse.
Yet as "mad" as many vivisectors are--they operate under the generous
auspices of government, industry, and the public sector.
b) Western society in particular is driven by a strong belief in the
necessity and inherent good of scientific exploration and a faith in the
doctrine of Progress - "that the advancement towards perfection or the
possible state in knowledge, power, and happiness will result through
endless unrestricted material investigation, development, and growth,
regardless of any and all detrimental effects to present day
society--the solutions to which may only come through more research and
science (i.e.?organ transplants. While they have extended or improved
the health of many human lives, they have also created a new criminal
enterprise--organ theft. The solution? More scientific research,
including the possibility of using animals as organ banks after they
have been genetically engineered. And of course, if this leads to new
viruses or other complications, then the answer is: more research!). In
this climate of scientific materialism, donations to medical research
take on the secular equivalent of the church collection plate, based on
a belief in the ingenuity of Man and a hope for medical salvation
through its clergy: the scientists.
This new religion, like many older world religions, is founded on a myth
that is the most important factor in the vivisection belief system:
c) Anthropocentrism. This is routinely defined as: 1.Regarding human
beings as the central element of the universe. 2.Interpreting reality
exclusively in terms of human values and experience.
It is worthwhile to compare this definition with Ethnocentrism, which is
usually defined as:
1.Belief in the superiority of one's own ethnic group.
2.Overriding concern with race.
Anthropocentrism can then be redefined as: Belief in the superiority of
one?s own species.
Most of the arguments employed by the Animal research proponent are
based on a belief in human supremacy (even if they deny it--and they
often will). Inconsistency, contradictions, and double standards
frequently emerge as a result of this belief. Animal oppressors condone
the treating of non human life in ways that they would not condone for
even the worst criminals in their society. This is significant, because
it shows that they believe the life of their worst enemy is worth more
to them that the life of an innocent mouse. What is the reason for this
The belief that something about being human makes them special.
In the 19th century, humans of non-European descent were seen as being
sub-human or ?monkeys? by Western society. In the 20th century one of
the more prominent arguments used in moral debates to justify abortion
was that fetuses are not yet human. The idea is that if something is not
human, you can do what you want to them. Those that oppose animal rights
are usually exhibiting the same kind of bigotry or chauvinism that one
associates with gender and ethnic discrimination.
The core of this chauvinism is the belief that: humans are superior in
value as a species to other life according to what we may call either a
"spiritual humanist" or "secular humanist" perspective and set of
The spiritual humanist will argue that humans are superior according to
the belief that they are the chosen of one or more deities (usually
anthropocentric and anthropomorphic), or because they are believed to
possess some quality (free will, a soul) which they deny to exist in
other life forms, or to exist in a significantly lesser degree.
The secular humanist believes that humans are superior as a species to
other life forms according to the belief that they possess the capacity
for reason, or free will, or some other quality which they contend makes
them more important in the universe (since they don't believe in a
deity). They might argue that humans are superior as a species according
to some belief in evolution (similar in purpose to the Great Chain of
Being of medieval Christian doctrine) or a philosophical ideal.
But this racist notion is taken for granted--so much so in fact that it
is engrained in the language. Most insults are derived from derogatory
comments made about members of other species. Even words like humane and
inhumane are founded on the idea that to be human is good, to be non
human is evil. It should not be surprising therefore, to discover that
Anthropocentrism is an important factor in the animal research debate.
Many, if not all of the reasoning and excuses employed by the
vivisection advocate suffer from the consequences of what may be called:
"Anthropocentric Myopia." That is, the ethical and practical arguments
they use in an attempt to justify the harm caused to animals, fail to
address and counter the effects these very same arguments would have if
applied fairly and equally to humans. It is this oversight which poses
the greatest challenge to the animal research defense, and the greatest
opportunity for the animal activist. Anthropocentrism and the myth of
human superiority will be addressed in more detail later on, however it is worthwhile to remember its importance as we examine the following
MEANS TO AN END Arguments
a) Benefits excuse "Animal research is justified because of the benefits
(to human health, happiness, knowledge, progress, science, companion
animals, wildlife, etc)."
Analyses: This defense is a popular one among vivisectors. It seeks to
silence the critics and seduce the audience by highlighting the material
gains promised from the animal research.
Its basic problem is that it is stating the INTENT of the Animal
research, not a moral /ethical DEFENSE of it.
?Why are you torturing animals to death??
?Because we hope to benefit from it.?
A casual observer would hope that they benefit from it, or why else
would they be doing it?
This argument is an appeal to Selfishness.
A thief steals because of the benefits to him or others. A rapist rapes
because of the benefits. If the rapist defended his act by pointing out
that others could benefit by taking items from the unconscious victim's
house, would that justify the rape? If one accepts "benefits" as a
justification for animal research, and applies it fairly and equally to
human relationships, then it allows anyone to commit an act on the basis
of the perceived benefits to the perpetrator or others--whether the
victim is human or not. In order for the Animal Research Proponent to
mount a defense of this argument, he or she MUST first show how humans
are deserving of preferential treatment, or why non-humans are not.
Human superiority MUST be proven. (see below Anthropocentrism)
b) The Necessity Excuse
This argument admits that "animal research is cruel, but asserts that it is necessary (in the pursuit of cures for illnesses, advancing human
This defense is often applied in the attempt to make a concession (that
animals suffer) while at the same time suggesting that vivisectors are
only doing what MUST be done.
It implies that animal research is a necessary tool in the goal of
medical research (without defining/proving the necessity) which in turn as stated to be of absolute importance (again, without defining/proving
Anthropocentric Myopia: By stating that medical research is of the
utmost importance the animal research proponent is faced with answering
Why not use other humans, either volunteers (offered substantial
financial benefits to themselves and families) or criminals for medical
experiments since the results would presumably be faster and safer than
using non-human subjects who differ in physiology from the human
patients? If the goal is to find cures for diseases, and if it is of the
utmost importance, would not the best course of action be an obligation?
Most vivisectors would quickly respond with alarm or disgust, answering
that they would never use other humans even if they could cure cancer by
experimenting upon one human test subject. This betrays their argument
that medical research is of the utmost importance.
It may also be noted that in war the same people may say that the
maiming and killing of innocent civilians is unfortunate but necessary
in order to defend borders, protect resources, and uphold ideological
beliefs?all would seem to be more important than finding a cure for
2) CHANGING THE SUBJECT Arguments
a) Attacking the person (argumentum ad hominem)
(i) "Do you eat meat?" (ii) "What are your shoes made of?" (iii) "Do you
eat plants?" (iv) "Would you accept a medical treatment that had been
tested on animals if you got sick?"
Quite often, an animal research proponent will attempt to change the
subject to avoid the issue of animal research, and their need to defend
it. They will attack the person making the animal rights argument
instead, using one of the above questions, which are designed to suggest
that moral perfection must be achieved or attainable from an ethical
philosophy in order for it to be valid.
Examples (i) and (ii): Although the issue of meat eating and/or animal
by-products is a valid and important issue in animal rights, it does not
have anything to do with the moral and ethical problems of animal
research. The fact that an animal activist making the anti-research
argument may be inconsistent in those ways does not in any way detract
or invalidate the argument on animal research. It is a separate issue.
ANTHROPOCENTRIC MYOPIA: If South Africa was being criticized by the
United States for their treatment of blacks, and the South African
government responded by pointing out the United States' poor treatment
of tribal communities within their own country, would this mean that the
treatment of blacks by South Africa was morally defensible? Of course
not. It would just mean that there are other issues that need to be
addressed APART FROM the treatment of blacks by South Africa.
Example (iii) "Do you eat plants? Fruit? You are killing anyway.":
Sometimes an Animal Research Proponent will go one step further, arguing
that even if the animal activist was a strict fruitarian, and had
avoided any and all forms of unnecessary exploitation of non-human
living beings, the very fact that they eat living matter (fruit and/or
vegetables) nullifies his/her anti-vivisection argument. It is implied
by this attack that the animal activist should not even try to stop
exploitation and killing, since it cannot be avoided in all situations.
ANTHROPOCENTRIC MYOPIA: The animal research proponent, by employing this
attack, fails to consider that if killing cannot be avoided, and one
should not try to stop it, the spectator is under no obligation to limit
their lack of concern to non human living things. The animal research
proponent would have to explain why the spectator should not care about
animal suffering and killing while at the same time care about human
suffering and killing.
A moral justification for the double standard would need to be presented
by the Animal research proponent.
Example (iv): "Would you accept a medical treatment that had been tested
on animals if you got sick?"
This attack implies that if an animal activist would use a medical
treatment that had been tested on animals then the activist is guilty of
hypocrisy: contradicting his/her argument, and must either refuse any
future medical treatment, or abandon the animal rights cause. The
activist is pressured to be a moral perfectionist before endorsing
animal rights---and since perfection is not possible--then it alleged
the animal rights agenda is a false one.
Of course, perfection is usually assumed to be impossible, and under
most ethical debates it is not a factor in the argument. Animal and
environmental issues are susceptible to this attack because of the
all-pervasive nature of the exploitation in the world and the ease with
which the animal research proponent can point out this fact in lieu of a
Nevertheless, this tactic fails because it draws an unrealistic
connection between the present act of vivisection, and the already
existing products of that vivisection. In order for the animal activist
to be guilty of hypocrisy, he or she would have to consciously
participate in or endorse the present and future activities of
vivisectors, not the medical treatments that resulted (in part) from
policies that included animal experimentation (i.e. saying they are
against vivisection, then paying a researcher to do it). The activist
could counter-argue that since the research was already done, it might
as well be utilized so the animals did not "die in vain."
It also makes an unrealistic demand upon the activist--to remove
him/herself from a world where all governments engage in some form of
exploitation (or have connections to those that do) before beginning to
make protests and arguments that seek change.
NOTE: This argument reveals how vivisectors attempt to make the
recipient of their works feel guilty because they may have benefited
from their research. It perverts the altruism of the medical profession
by tainting the recipient with the tag of a conspirator!
ANTHROPOCENTRIC MYOPIA: If this "moral perfection first" approach is
applied fairly and equally to human-related issues-it has the following
consequences for the animal research proponent: Any patient who benefits
from a procedure that was based upon the human experiments of the Nazis,
effectively endorses those atrocities committed, and cannot declare
otherwise (In 1989 concentration camp survivors attempted to get Nazi
research destroyed--but were rebuked by the medical establishment which
argued the research could be employed for the greater good).
An organ recipient, who receives a transplant from a victim of a car
wreck, or shooting, cannot claim to be against such tragedies, since
he/she benefited from such incidents.
Furthermore, --a Chinese student living in Bejing, could not protest for
democratic reforms since he receives his food, shelter, and financial
support through agencies of the government he is attacking.
And someone in North America could not claim to be for Indian
rights--unless they remove themselves from their present dwelling and
let aboriginals move in.
No one could protest, or seek to make reforms for any social cause
unless they first removed themselves from all imperfections. Since it is
impossible--all attempts to make the world a better place would have to
Of course the animal research proponent does not intend or even think of
this consequence of their attack. In trying to portray the animal
activist as a hypocrite, they put forth an ethical standard which they
do not apply fairly and equally to themselves--thus revealing who the
actual hypocrites are.
Once again the animal research proponent must first define and support
the preferential treatment being extended to humans and denied to non
3)APPEAL TO THE PATERNAL/SPECIES ARGUMENTS
a) "If your child was ill, would you sacrifice the life of a rat in
medical research to save it?"
This hypothetical argument implies that since the activist would most
likely choose the life of their child over that of a rat---then they are
endorsing the principle behind vivisection whether they admit it or not.
If they say no, then they do not love their child and are a terrible
The first error with this is the unrealistic nature of the hypothetical
situation. Can a cure for an illness be attained by killing one rat,
without any human clinical trials? Of course not. Such a scenario is an
oversimplification intended to force the validity of animal research and
portray the vivisector as someone capable of making miraculous
treatments if only he/she is allowed to exploit animals as they wish.
It also perverts the nature of altruism and compassion by suggesting
that one must prioritize the recipients of such altruism and compassion.
If your child was sick, would you sacrifice the life of your neighbor's
child in medical research to save it?"
If you say no, then you obviously don't love your child as much as you
may claim to, especially since you know that the chances for a treatment are greatly increased by using humans--and wouldn't you want only the
best for your child?
Again, this is not the type of scenario that the animal research
proponent intends be extrapolated from the initial example, but
consistency demands it.
The animal research proponent must first show why and how humans deserve
preferential treatment before such an argument attack could even begin
to have validity.
b) Species Unity
"If you saw a burning barn filled with humans and cattle, who would you
The intention here is to force the animal activist to admit that there
is a situation where he/she would choose the life of a human over a non
human, thus validating the animal research position. The trouble here is
that even if the activist chooses to save the life of a human over a non
human, it does not then mean that the activist is endorsing factory
farming or the vivisection industry or making any policy decision.
Anthropomorphic myopia: Rephrasing the scenario, what if the burning
barn is filled with humans...half are white and half are black. If you
are white?who do you save?" The animal research proponent does not
intend that the burning barn scenario be considered in this way--but it
must be for consistency.
The original scenario attempts to prompt the activist into deciding
between "us (humans) or them (non humans)."
If the research proponent objects to the notion that one may choose
between "us or them" based on ethnic or gender, or some other criteria,
then he/she must first show how discrimination based on species is
justified, before such an argument could even begin to be considered
valid for the animal research issue.
NOTE: An animal research proponent might counter that it is in the best
practical interest of human beings to have respect and care for each
other (Golden rule) but this would not be a necessity or a moral
obligation. If someone could benefit from exploiting other humans (as we find in the real world all the time) then this argument would be
invalidated. Why shouldn?t someone exploit others if they can benefit
from it? This is what the animal research proponent must address.
NOTE 2: Another form of this argument is to suggest that only humans can
form moral contracts with other humans?since we cannot make social/moral
contracts with other species, we should not care about how we treat
them. This has a few problems.
Why does a moral contract have to be reciprocal? We make special
arrangements for infants, and humans that are mentally
challenged?without requiring that they ?return the favor.? Why should
other species be treated to a different standard?
Furthermore, it must be pointed out that we can and do have social and
moral contracts with other species. We know that if an animal, its
offspring, or its territory is threatened, or it is hungry, we can
expect it to react accordingly. That is a contract.
By contrast, there are humans who make moral and social contracts with
other humans?and then break them. And yet we do not turn them into
ANTHROPOCENTRIC MYOPIA: If this argument is applied fairly and equally
to a human rights scenario, then it would have significant consequences
for humans that are either children, or are stricken with brain damage,
mental illness, or some disease which prevents them from making a
social/moral contract with others. By the logic of this argument? these
humans could be exploited for medical research.
NOTE 3: Some argue that one cannot say that humans and non humans are
equal and also say that humans and non humans are not bound by the same
rules and code of moral conduct. This is assumed to be a fallacy in
Definition: Conflicting Conditions--that they cannot be equal and
unequal at the same time.
This confuses two different definitions of "equality." The first
definition is that non humans and humans are equal regardless of their
differences (the "Martin Luther King jr." sense of the word: "All men are
created equal." ). The second definition is not a value judgement, but
an observation of the fact that everyone has different attributes. The
animal rights proponent stresses equality in value while acknowledging
inequality in attribute. There is no conflict.
Other species are equal to humans in value, but they do not possess the
attributes to think and behave the way humans do--just as the mentally
retarded or children do not have the same attributes but are afforded
equal moral protection and ethical regard.
ANTHROPOCENTRIC MYOPIA: We say a man with arms and a man without arms
are equal in worth, but we don?t say because they have different
abilities that the one with arms deserves more "rights" than the other.
By the logic of this attack, in order for all humans to be granted equal
rights and respect, they would have to possess the same attributes
(mentally, physically etc).
The animal research proponent must first show why and how humans deserve
preferential treatment before such an argument attack could even begin
to have validity.
4) SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST
Sometimes a research proponent may argue that vivisection is justified
because humans can subdue and control other creatures for whatever
purpose they wish.
This approach would attempt to bypass any discussion of ethics and human
chauvinism, and attempt to suggest that humans are following the "law of
Nature." The act of vivisection is seen as being no different than a
lion chasing down a gazelle. The proponent may even concede that if an
alien race were to do the same thing to humans it would be justifiable.
The first problem with this approach is that it suggests vivisection
serves a natural purpose, similar to the act of killing for food. Yet
the act of killing for food is a primordial instinctive need shared by
all life, while only a small number of modern humans engage in the
practice of vivisection.
It also conveniently ignores the harsh reality of life and death. One
could counter-argue that disease exists to control population?a
thoroughly natural process--and that the vivisectionist is deliberately
obstructing that process by attempting to prolong human life-spans. What
about the impact on food and natural resources? A vivisector would
probably answer that the solution lies in more research, colonizing
space, etc. Nevertheless, the claim that vivisection is a natural
process in harmony with the realities of life can be strongly protested.
Anthropocentric myopia: Despite the concession made for extraterrestrial
exploitation, one does not need to go so far out to discover the
consequences of such a philosophical position.
By "survival of the fittest," one could then justify killing or enslaving their next door neighbor. The philosophy ordains that if they
can do it, then they are justified. A thief, murderer, rapist,
--practictioners of any of these professions would find the vivisector's
reasoning to be very useful.
In order for the research proponent to nullify their claims, he/she
would have to show why humans are deserving of preferential treatment
while non humans are not.
As we have seen, most if not all of the arguments listed above rely on
the unspoken belief that humans deserve preferential treatment which is
not to be extended to other life forms.
If one questions this racist idea that humans as a species are superior
in value to other life forms, then one discovers that the same arbitrary
standards that plague gender and ethnic based forms of discrimination
are also present in human chauvinism or speciesism.
As mentioned earlier, there are two ideological forms of
anthropocentrism: spiritual humanism and secular humanism.
Spiritual humanism relies on the belief in a deity or deities which the
adherents claim are of absolute power/importance, and who have made it
known through specific revelation (such as the Bible) that humans are to
be treated with greater concern than other species. It is usually argued
that humans possess some special quality, a soul, free will, or mental
capacity, which is not present in non human life forms, or is present to
a lesser degree.
The greatest problem with spiritual humanism is the lack of certainty
inherent in the belief. One can doubt the existence and nature of the
deity, doubt the uniqueness and importance of the qualities cited as
making one worthy of special treatment, and doubt human possession of
them (and doubt the claim that other life forms do not possess them).
The Problem of Evil: one important part of the spiritual humanist form
of anthropocentrism can be demonstrated in the arguments concerning the
existence of evil. If the deity determining human superiority is
omnipotent, omniscient, and benevolent, then how can bad things happen
to humans? The common reply by theologians to this vexing question is
that in order for humans to possess free will, the possibility of
choosing evil needs to be present.
God could have created a universe free of evil, it is said, but then the
inhabitants would be "innocent automata," without choice, without the
qualities that are said to be exclusively human. In other words the
question poser is assumed to believe that the existence of human life in
the universe?and therefore evil, is a more acceptable scenario than a
universe without humans and evil. Why? Simply because the spectator is
For these reasons claiming that humans are superior according to a
spiritual form of humanism is neither concrete nor conclusive. One is
free to believe anything--and by this ideology one could modify the
human superiority argument to assert with equal weight that some humans
are superior to other HUMANS according to to the dictates of their
particular deity. The dispute is endless. Nevertheless, the truth
remains that humanity is subject to the same standards and consequences
that it applies to members of other species.
Secular humanism is basically the same philosophy as spiritual
humanism--but it eliminates or denies the anthropomorphic agency behind
the belief. It may also highlight "reason" or some vague, subjective
evolutionary "law" as the principle factor in human uniqueness and
Secular humanism can also be challenged by doubt. One can question the
importance of free will, reason, or the evolutionary law being cited as
Why are these qualities important? If one acknowledges that death is the
ultimate end of all life, humans included, then why the emphasis on
something so transitory?
One can question the notion that humans are rational--simply by reading
out loud the harrowing stories on war and crime from the front page of
any daily newspaper.
One can argue that humans enslave, torture, kill, while no other species
on earth can even come close to exhibiting such a level of barbarism.
Every criteria that humans cite as evidence of their superiority can be examined to not only negate the claim--but demonstrate the OPPOSITE with
Altruism, tool making, parental nurturing...these qualities once thought
to be exclusively human have been observed in wildlife.
Then there is the issue that humans are worth more according to some
natural law. The ludicrousness of this belief can be easily exposed by
simple observation. If a volcano erupts--does the lava flow destroy all
in its path--but conveniently spare human life since it is a universal
fact that they are special and not to be harmed? If a human is adrift in
the ocean, and approached by a shark--do the jaws of the predatory fish
lock up in paralyses when it attempts to bite the man?
If the claim that "human life is superior to other life forms" was an
absolute, universal fact and truth in nature--then how does one explain
that humans appear to be subject to the same violence and mortality that
applies to other life? One can't, because humans are not superior
according to any criteria that are cited to prove it--all examples are
arbitrary, subjective and non-absolute.
Even the claim that humans should not enslave and kill other humans is
easily challenged by observing the state of human relations over the
last 10 000 years. Arguing that something is absolute and objective
carries a very heavy burden of proof.
Anthropocentrism is nothing more than human beings setting the standard
and value system by which a life is to be viewed as special and worthy?a
standard that conveniently places themselves at the top of the value
system--all the while ignoring the fragile foundation that supports it.
Most often, a debate on animal research ends with the accommodating
remark that the issue wasn't resolved, and the controversy continues. On
the contrary, the issue was resolved a long time ago--it is just a
matter of getting people to accept (rather than ignore) the truth and
wisdom of it. Hopefully this essay has offered a refreshing perspective
on the animal research debate. Its focus on anthropocentrism, and
attacking the notion of human superiority, as opposed to arguing for
species equality, may be deemed by some as a negative, and
counter-productive method of persuasion.
If human rights are as arbitrary as animal rights, one may suggest then
why care about either?
This is the one question that cannot be answered (at least not by this
author). Nevertheless it is hoped that if presented with the humble
choice of trying to be as nice and compassionate as one can, or being as selfish and
indifferent as one can, the casual observer will not need to ponder it