Sunday, June 04, 2006

Victory over vivisection on medical grounds will advance the ethical case

How should we fight vivisection?

We know that there are unassailable arguments, on both ethical and scientific grounds, to oppose it.

But what is the best, most effective strategy to use: to pursue the moral route or to follow the medical path?

Personally, although we should use both, I think that the medical arguments will win the battle. Am I over optimistic?

Perhaps. But only a few years ago all cosmetic companies were saying that they couldn’t do without animal tests, and now many major cosmetic corporations are eager to proclaim that they don’t use animal testing.

The same, I think, will happen to the rest of animal experimentation, because the scientific arguments of vivisectors are really and simply wrong.

If vivisection were ended for medical reasons, ie for the selfish reason of its being misleading and dangerous to humans, would that be a defeat for the battle for animal equality?

Far from it. It would be exactly the opposite.

I’ll explain why.

If there is one area where animal and human interests do appear to be genuinely in conflict, it is animal research.

Nobody can seriously claim that wearing fur coats, hunting foxes, going to circuses with performing animals and the like satisfy important needs and necessary desires, when compared to the suffering and death that they cause.

Even animal exploitation for food is not a necessity, given that, not only we can survive without eating meat and animal products, but in addition we survive better, on a healthier diet, that way.

Animal research, on the other hand, touches an area where important human interests are at stake: fighting disease.

If we can show that this conflict of interests is only apparent, we will have achieved a major victory which will go beyond having ended vivisection, although that in itself, since vivisection is one of the worst evils, will be of enormous importance.

With that victory, we will have demonstrated that the justification for the ruthless use (the philosopher Harlan Miller used the word “consumption”: I like that) of animals has no foundation. If it has no foundation when something vital like the fight aginst disease is at stake, it will be much more difficult for our opponents to resort to similar excuses in other fields.

We will always be able to use that victory against vivisection to show that we humans can live without the need to kill, damage and impose suffering on other animals in any major, intentional way.

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