Animal Research: Ethical or Unethical

Animals should be used in Psychological Research as long as the benefits of the experiments outweigh the cruelty imposed upon the animals. While there is obviously ample gray area as to what should be considered a sufficient scientific benefit, two mindsets are generally taken concerning the justification of research animals: the scientific view and the ethical view. As Rebecca Dresser, (1988) states, "The scientific justification concerns…the validity of the animal model, that is, it is dependent upon the extent to which experimental findings in the animal model can be generalized to other species, particularly humans." Nevertheless, B.F. Orlans, (1998) would take the ethical stance and retort, "The ethical justification…assumes that research can be carried out with no or minimal discomfort or distress to the animal research subjects, and that any pain and suffering experienced is compensated for by the alleviation of human pain and suffering caused by disease and injury." In short, these two definitions should be consulted when the question of research ethics arises.
To put this theory to practice, one should take realistic, specific examples and then apply both scientific and ethic perspectives. For instance, a junior high school class dissecting dozens of frogs should be considered unethical by all accounts. Scientifically, research is not being accomplished that is applicable to the human species, and ethically, research to alleviate pain is not taking place. However, research on lab rats to find a cure for Alzheimer's that involved little physical strain on the animals would be considered ethical on both takes of the definition. In turn, ethics will perpetually be under discussion, but this dualistic position should be referenced for further clarification.

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