TOPIC #3: THE USE OF ANIMALS IN BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH
“The use of animals in research violates the rights of the animals themselves, specifically their
right to not be subject to cruel and unusual punishment. It imposes unnecessary suffering amongst
sentient creatures, in a situation which it is not necessary.”
His aim was to show that these views are incorrect.
His first point was to prove that claims, or potential claims to rights were something which was
common within a community of moral agents.
However, this should primarily be restricted to those who are human, claims Cohen.
1. This is because one has rights as a moral agent; this comes from exercising and responding to moral
claims, to lay down general morals. Animals can’t do this.
2. Though animals don’t have RIGHTS per say, we as humans do have moral obligation towards them
to treat them properly in our dealings. Rights entail obligations, but many things which we ought to
do are not necessarily tied to one’s entitlements.
3. Cohen’s duty to aid strangers is a familiar example of not having any particular duty to aid animals.
Our obligation to animals is that we must treat them humanely, however, it is not to treat them as if
they are humans or even as if they are holders of that right.
Objection #1: If having rights depends on moral capabilities, then older people, cripples, the senile etc.
who are not mentally present, should they be considered people without rights?
Rebuttal #1: This is a mistake because they’re treating moral presence as some sort of feature by which
we must judge whether someone is to be deemed a human being. What matters is NOT whether you as
an individual currently possess the relevant moral capabilities, but whether members who you are of a
part of normally possess them.
Objection #2: The features of moral relevance- rationality, interdependence, and love – are not
exhibited by human beings alone.
Rebuttal #2: Membership in a community of moral agents is what is necessary to have “rights”, not the
ability or reason or communicate or to care for one’s young. Moral Agents have the ability to respond to
moral claims of others, and to apply general moral rules. Hence why animals aren’t thought of having
committed “crimes” per say. He also states, that if we were to take into account moral differences