The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

Animal experimentation is immoral.

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/29/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,157 times Debate No: 51175
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (25)
Votes (2)




The topic and the arguments for and against is actually pretty self-explanatory.

I've been thinking about this, and I've come to the conclusion that both sides of this debate have valid points that will make this debate very much enjoyable.

I am not tolerant of any sort of name-calling or trolling. I am actually not a animal rights advocate. I'm here for the sake of battling logic to logic. If anything comes to condescension and belittling, I'm really not interested.

1st- round opening comments ( here list all the points that you will use in the arguments)
2nd - rebuttal
3rd - further rebuttal + cross examination (ask 3 questions)
4th - answer the questions.
5th closing statement.

Pretty simple, right?


Thank you to dwkwvss for offering up this topic. As a researcher myself, concerns like this are near and dear, though in my case I only test one plants, viruses and bacteria. I'll admit, this is something I struggle with to a decent extent, and much as I will be arguing against the resolution, I'm not certain if I could engage in this type of research myself.

First, I'd like to spend some time elucidating what I think is meant by animal experimentation. Realistically, what we are discussing is the act of utilizing non-human animals (mostly small rodents) for the purposes of testing materials that may be harmful or beneficial to humans. I will stipulate that I think the most appropriate place to evaluate such research is where it is used most commonly and most necessarily. As such, I will be discussing animal research with regards to medical testing, and most specifically, my the pre-clinical trials that solely employ animal research. I think this reasonably narrows the subject of the debate, though should my opponent disagree, I would appreciate if we had that conversation in the comments.

I'll go ahead and provide a brief outline of my case, as requested:

1. Research aimed at treating or preventing human disease is hugely beneficial to both humans and animals.

2. Animal experimentation is necessary to ensure a high degree of completeness to these studies.

3. Consent is always problematic, no matter the subject being utilized, when it comes to preclinical trials.

With that, I will leave it to my opponent to provide the first actual argumentation of this debate.
Debate Round No. 1


Since I did not post my points in round 1, I'll use this round to do both a brief explanation of my points, and also a rebuttal. I agree to the definition that my opponent has given, though small rodents are not the only subjects:primates and other large mammals are also part of animal experimentation.

My points are:
1. Humans do not have the moral right to experiment on other animals.

2. The differences between animals and humans are unclear and yield unreliable results. This weakens the justification of sacrificing other species for our own good.

What gives humans the right to experiment on other species? I do not dispute that animal experimentation aids in the research of disease prevention. In fact, I do not dispute the utility of animal experimentation as a whole. Yet I believe utility does not justify immorality, just as the ends do not necessarily justify the means.

Animal experimentation is the alternative to human experimentation. which we deem unethical. As my opponent astutely observes, human consent is always problematic as a consequence. Thus we justify selecting our subjects from other species, because human life is sacred, and any act which may jeopardize it is 'immoral.' Instead, we sacrifice, in place of human lives, animal lives, which we conveniently conclude carries neither the right of consent, nor the human rights we uphold as the triumph of human morality.

What gives the human beings the right to conclude that a human life is worth more than an animal life? Even worse, the practice has been that several, if not dozens of animal lives are sacrificed in place of one human life. Then for what? While my opponent includes animals as the potential beneficiary of animal experimentation, this is a statement that is either naive or conveniently disingenuous. Science is an endeavor strictly made to help the progress of mankind. Our justification for the sacrifice of other species for the good of ourselves is nothing more than deluded self-righteousness and hypocrisy.

Take for example, the Wall of China. These were built to protect the stability of the empires in China from the northern tribes. For the sake of political stability, millions of peasants were enslaved for the wall's construction. The attitude of the royalty, that peasant lives were dispensable for the stability of their regimes, is no different from the attitude we have in condoning the experimentation on other animals.

At what point do we say one life is more dispensable over another? Is higher and more complex intelligence the answer? Then is it possible to use those born with mental defects for experimentation? Our emotions? We have found evidence of emotion in other animal species. So what separates them and us? What makes it right for us to mutilate bodies of other species, insert cancer causing agents, shoot down deadly radiation, and implant inorganic devices? Where is the moral defense for this?

I wait for the reply of my opponent.


Alright, thanks to my opponent for proffering his arguments. I'm going to start this round with some rebuttal before elucidating my points. I won't be citing specifics in this round, as I mean to elucidate them in future rounds as responses due to the lack of space.

There is a sort of cognitive dissonance between Pro's elucidation of his arguments and his #2. He doesn't "dispute that animal experimentation aids in the research of disease prevention," yet he wants to claim that the differences between animals and humans are unclear and yield unreliable results. Unless Pro is arguing that human experimentation should replace animal experimentation, his position in this debate is that using multicellular lifeforms for the purpose of experimentation is immoral. Therefore, whether he weakens this partially or not, my case always has a clear utilitarian benefit that his lacks.

But he does have a point, at least partially. Physiological differences between, say, rodents and humans can lead to different effects. The same is true of any animal, though chimps, which Pro points out are also a part of this research, are similar enough to us that they're practically the gold standard for preclinical studies. But he is fundamentally missing the purpose of this experimentation, which is systems analysis in a mammalian system. It's not perfect, no, but this sort of analysis is literally impossible in the absence of animal research. In vitro studies cannot simulate a full blown organism, and there is still too large of a gulf in our understanding of these systems to produce reliable simulations. Given that, anything my opponent would propose falls far short of the efficacy of current research.

The main point that runs throughout Pro's analysis is that treating animals as lesser beings is immoral. He utilizes a deontological view to assert this, stating that "utility does not justify immorality."

Multiple responses.

1) Pro gives absolutely no reason to prefer a deontological view. He says we're essentially debasing lives, but never explains why, as a means, this is more harmful than an end of saving countless people and animals from disease.

2) In this case, the ends most certainly do justify the means. The countless number of lives saved due to the eradication of smallpox, immunization against measles, mumps, rubella, influenza, polio and other infectious diseases, not to mention lives saved from extensive cancer research and efforts to treat any amount of injuries, are nothing to just brush under the rug, especially since the vast majority of that research has occurred in laboratory animals specifically bred for the purpose. Those animals would never have existed in the first place if not for this research.

3) Pro tries to discount my point with regards to animals being also being benefited by this research. I'm not sure what he's getting at here. Treatment for veterinary disease also requires extensive testing, and that testing is done in animals. Since some of these diseases can cross over to humans, as the influenza called H5N1 passed from birds to humans and as H1N1 passed from pigs to humans, this research often yields important protective results for animal populations as well. The number of pets protected by vaccination against nay number of zoonotic diseases is gigantic.

4) Why is utilitarianism a better way to view morality in this case? Well, we can start with the reality that animal experiments only go on so long as the drug is either proven effective and safe (or ineffective and unsafe). This means there is a defined limit to the amount of animals used for any given experiment. There is, however, a much larger amount of people affected by that research in the vast majority of cases. In a straight evaluation of lives lost, utilitarianism is demonstrably better from a moral perspective.

5) All of this is basically justification for Pro to handicap researchers. One of two things result, both immoral. Either researchers try a bevy of experimental methods that are certain to produce far less applicable evaluations of a given treatment's efficacy and safety and start in on a preclinical trial for human beings where no one can consent (more on that later), or researchers stop producing new treatments out of fear for providing something to their patients that has a large chance of endangering their health. I'd like to see Pro's justification for either of these alternatives, or for him to provide a separate one.

Pro uses the example of the Great Wall of China. Considering there were little in the way of ethical considerations for how those people were treated, as opposed to the ways these researchers treat their animals (as they are required to limit suffering as much as possible), I'd say this comparison fails, not to mention that the Great Wall was a selfish protective gesture, whereas the research we're discussing benefits a population that doesn't just exist in one country.

The last major point Pro makes is that I can't justify the importance of a human life. That would take up the remainder of my space, but I will point out that human beings are the only ones capable of producing these treatments and therefore the only ones capable of saving multitudes of life.

Now, I'll elucidate my points a bit.

1. Research aimed at treating or preventing human disease is hugely beneficial to both humans and animals.

I've already elucidated this in my rebuttal. If my opponent wants specific numbers, I can provide them, though as he is granting the point about human lives saved, I don't think that's necessary to show here. I've also shown how animal lives are saved, much as my opponent contends that that's not the case.

2. Animal experimentation is necessary to ensure a high degree of completeness to these studies.

I've spent some time on this, but I should elaborate further. Why do we care about systems biology? Why not just use a test tube? Because there's no way we can cram everything that makes a human human into a small vial, nor can we simulate the way they interact in the body. From the macro scale to the micro scale, we are incredibly complex. In fact, every animal system is very complex. Thus, in order to understand how a drug interacts with all manner of possible targets in the body, we have to, at some point, evaluate it within such a complex system. It's simply necessary for such research to continue.

But why do we choose animals? Much as Pro is right that we do use other animals (horses, dogs, primates) for the purpose of animal experimentation, those are really meant to be more emulative of the human system. We use mice and rats most often, mainly because they have short life cycles and rapid rates of reproduction. Human beings could never hope to match those characteristics, and therefore the number of tests in humans would have to be larger than with rodents.

3. Consent is always problematic, no matter the subject being utilized, when it comes to preclinical trials.

We've barely touched upon consent, but this is really important, because human beings aren't an alternative as research subjects. Preclinical trials are meant to establish the No Observable Adverse Effects Levels (NOAEL), which are meant to determine what is a safe dosage based on body size. It's not perfect, but it helps a lot. This is why clinical trials can include humans who consent " we can document side effects and difficulties in animals, and then include them in a document that the patient signs for consent.

In the absence of specifics in that document, no one can realistically consent. Even if they could, the risks would be tremendous, and therefore they would have to pay recruits exorbitant amounts. The poor will be victimized by this, as they are the only ones who might absolutely require that money with little or no alternatives available. Ergo, if Pro is arguing that humans should be in these studies instead, that is an immoral act.

Back to Pro.
Debate Round No. 2


I must thank my opponent for making this debate enjoyable. I always enjoy deeply contemplating on a divisive issue with a serious opponent in a debate. That said, I'll now go straight to serious business.

First I must defend what my opponent calls a 'cognitive dissonance' in my arguments. I should make it clearer what I meant. I stated that I do not dispute the fact that animal experimentation aids research. I agree to the notion that animal experimentation is a useful tool in research, but am pointing out that it still carries flaws. We justify the use of animals for their similarities to the human body and its systems, without clear knowledge of how these unclear differences amount to different effects in the human body. I acknowledge, however, that my second point isn't really my major point in discussing the morality of the experiments.

I also believe that my opponent is also slightly misinterpreting the topic of this debate. I stated in the resolution that "animal experimentation is immoral", not that "animal experimentation should be banned because it is immoral."
In other words I am arguing only on the morality of the practice. I am not arguing over the utility of animal experimentation. Nor am I attempting to 'handicap' researchers. I'm not arguing against the fact that animal experimentation is an integral part of our scientific progress, but against the notion that it is inherently a 'moral' act.

That said, I wish to point out some obvious flaws in my opponent's arguments.

flaw 1: Animal experimentation benefits humans and animals

My opponent has a point in that humans are not necessarily the only ones that benefit from scientific research. But this is still a naive view since the animals that receive benefits are only those that are associated with human interests. Such interests include health of livestock-our source of food-, our pets - our source of intimacy -, and as my opponent points out, inter-species transmission of disease from these animals. This does not escape from the anthropocentric view of the world, which, and I cannot emphasize more, is the stem of the immorality of animal experimentation.

For one, what benefits do the rodent species - since it seems rodents are the most widely experimented animals - from our scientific researches? Nothing. Ultimately the lives we save are human lives. The disease we wish to prevent are disease that affect us, whether directly or indirectly.

flaw 2. Utilitarianism is a better way to view morality, or as my opponent states, "straight evaluation of lives lost."

This is a very troublesome view of morality. Number of lives cannot be the standard with which we set our morality. Was Hitler any less immoral than Stalin for killing fewer millions of humans? Was the act of dropping the atomic bombs on civilians morally defensible because the prolonging of the war without them would have cost more lives? While these may seem extreme cases, they are just a few of the many absurd arguments that such utilitarianistic morality allows.

Let us explore more in this field. A claim made often is that human ambition - or in negative light, greed - is one of the primary sources of conflict and consequent death that has plagued human history. Does this in any way justify the removal of human emotions? Such a notion is explored in the movie Equilibrium, where human emotions are suppressed via chemical ingestion.

By my opponent's quote-on-quote "straight evaluation of lives lost," this is a moral act, is it not? The suppression of freedom of emotion in the name of morality is a moral one by my opponent's standards of morality. What next are we to sacrifice in our moral standards by using such "moral math"?

To add, such mentality justifies the sacrifice of one group as a moral act for the "greater good." of another group. Such justifications have time to time demonstrated that it must not be the basis of our moral understanding of this universe.

I wish to elucidate on certain points in light of my analysis of my opponent's argument.

1. Moral defense using utilitarianism is tacit approval of the immorality of an act.

What my opponent fails to distinguish is the distinction between a moral cause, and an immoral act. The two are not mutually exclusive. A moral cause will in its fulfillment entail immoral acts. The French Revolution is a good example. While the cause to bring the ideals of equality, liberty and fraternity by overthrowing the oppressive upper class was a moral cause, the act of murder that the rebels executed upon the royal guards and army was an immoral act.

In our case, the cause to eradicate or prevent disease for mankind is the moral cause. Animal experimentation is the immoral act by which humans attempt to make that moral cause come true. What my opponent attempts to do is justify an immoral act by the moral cause that caused it. This does not change the immoral act to a moral one.

2. My opponent's moral defense for animal experimentation is a double-standard brought on by anthropocentrism.

As I've demonstrated earlier, the benefits of scientific research is anthropocentric.

For example, the movie The Island explores the notion of human clones bred for organ harvesting. This is no different from the creation of oncomice and transgenic pigs. It is in essence the breeding organisms for the enhancement of human health. My opponent would argue that the former is more immoral than the latter.

This reveals the hypocrisy of humans to change morality to fit their own needs. When it is done on humans, it is morally wrong since it takes away the rights to life and freedom. When done on animals, anthropocentric utilitarianism steps in and claims since it saves multitudes of lives, it is defensible.

Now I will pose the 3 questions that he must answer in the next round

1) Do you acknowledge that double moral standards are used for human and animal experimentation?

2) Do you believe that "realistically more viable" is a valid defense of morality?

3) Do humans carry the right to determine that an animal life is of lesser value than a human life?

I eagerly wait for my opponent's answer.



I very much appreciate my opponent's style of debate as well, and am glad to see someone new to the site showcasing such a high level of debate prowess.

That being said, I'm going to go through and rebut his case and rebuild mine.

Pro starts off by essentially conceding utility. This makes this debate a question of whether morality can and should apply mainly to a specific action taken (as my opponent argues), or whether the context of an action should determine its morality (as I argue). This is the basis of the debate.

When Pro states that I've misinterpreted the topic, he's really misunderstanding the purpose of my points regarding alternatives. The purpose of these arguments was to showcase other possibilities that exist in a world where we accept that this practice is immoral and decide to act upon it. Every single one is immoral in its own right. By not responding to these specifically, Pro is tacitly conceding that no alternatives exist that are morally superior. He's welcome to provide some response in the final round on this point, but as it stands now, all three alternatives I've discussed are morally reprehensible by comparison. Just to remind everyone what those alternatives were, they were human experimentation, allowing limited experimentation (in vitro/simulations), and no experimentation.

My opponent is right. We aren't discussing the actual practice of banning animal experimentation. What we are discussing is its morality, and that morality only exists in comparison to other available actions. Harms exist in any case, therefore we must evaluate by comparison.

Of course, this assumes that we're looking at the overall picture, something my opponent is adverse to " as well he should be, since deontology doesn't look at the overall picture. Pro provides a number of false analogies that I will get to in a moment, but let's look at how deontology would evaluate similar medical situations.

First, you really wouldn't have to get to animal experimentation. You could call the needle sticks that are necessary for this research morally reprehensible, since it punctures the skin and injects something foreign into the body. Given Pro's line of reasoning, every single injection would also be immoral.

Context is necessary. We don't view the injection as immoral because we know that the purpose of that injection is to assist the person. Even if that person is unconscious and unable to consent, that's not necessarily immoral, but more importantly, that's context. You need to know more than just what that leg of the experiment looks like in order to find immorality.

Second, every evaluation Pro provides of harm is utilitarian as well, and therefore can be compared to others. Pro impacts every single one of his points very logically by stating that there are physical harms done to these animals and ultimately, most are euthanized. Thus, we're not evaluating this actually as a means. We're evaluating it as an end. All Pro has done is shift the end point to somewhere earlier than the actual one, focus on the animals, and function with the same utilitarian principles in evaluating it. Pro is tacitly accepting that utilitarianism is most appropriate, he'd just rather it function in a vacuum.

Now, I'm going to get into some specific refutation.

1) Anthropacentracism

It's a nice critique, one I've seen before in live debates. Pro never impacts this, at all. He never explains why this is a bad thing to engage in (hypocrisy alone isn't an impact, nor is it harmful in and of itself), or what is a feasible moral alternative. I would say that any alternative is completely unreasonable " it's hard to get funding to support research that aims to treat something not associated with humans. The only way research gets funding is if human beings fund it " much as I think a buck is a majestic animal, it is not made of actual monetary bucks.

Beyond that, Pro makes a wrong assertion. Yes, we do have treatments that we've found for pet rodents, but more importantly, we've grown to understand a number of preventative methods that keep rodents from suffering from all manner of disease.[1] So yes, they have benefited.

2) False analogies

Under "flaw 2," Pro provides a number of these. Let's go through them individually.

No, Hitler was not less immoral than Stalin based on the number of dead. Again, context. Hitler was trying to eradicate multiple populations of people entirely and was killing to make the world pure and Aryan. That's a mitigating factor that makes them more or less the same morally. But more importantly, it doesn't matter whether one is more or less moral. We accept them both as immoral, and recognize that neither lacks for alternatives that were moral.

The same thing applies to the dropping of the atomic bombs. Pro is just stating a false dichotomy. I don't have to defend the choice to do so " diplomacy existed as a moral alternative.

The justification for the removal of emotions may be valid, but there are too many mitigating factors to be certain that it's actually beneficial. Ambition/greed are not the only emotion expressed by humans, nor are they solely harmful. It is simple to argue the utility of emotions to the population at large. Pro essentially states that this is all a part of the moral math, yet he leaves out any and all variables that can modify that "math."

Pro asserts that focusing on the "greater good" has been demonstrated as wrong, but simply ignores all of the mitigating factors that affect that evaluation.

Pro compares to the French Revolution. Again, the reality that alternatives existed modifies our ability to evaluate the outcomes. He tries to distinguish between a moral cause and an immoral act, but doesn't recognize that they are one in the same in this instance: both the cause is a moral one, and, when context is applied, so is the act itself.

Lastly, Pro discusses a comparison of human clones bred for organ harvesting and the use of oncomice and transgenic pigs in research, assuming my position. He's wrong. I think both are morally reasonable, and not that one is better than the other. Again, the key words are context and alternatives. The context here is that these are lives created specifically for the purpose, and saves the life of people who would otherwise lose theirs. That's not to mention that Pro doesn't state how this would occur " many have considered clones made without a brain, and as such ones that cannot suffer. The alternative is that many people lack for organs, and there is no other way to acquire them adequately.

I'll quickly respond to Pro's questions.

1) In some instances it becomes fuzzy, though even in chimps the life cycle is shorter than in humans, providing faster results. In most instances, no. I've provided strong and specific rationale for why rodents are used that Pro left untouched. Pro doesn't state how to solve for this double standard. As alternatives have larger moral quandries, any double standard here is morally preferable and therefore moral.

2) Not sure where you're getting that quote, but no, I don't. Viability doesn't make it moral. Its contextual morality makes it moral.

3) I don't know who or what allocates this "right," but every living creature on this planet makes a determination that their species is most important. Lions don't have a "right" to disembowel and eat other creatures, but it does anyway. Just as we shouldn't expect them to starve to meet a specific concept of morality, we shouldn't expect people to suffer and die because of that same concept. The reality that we have a larger effect than a lion does doesn't alter the inherent morality of saving lives for the purpose of perpetuating the species and improving quality of life. It's not about any right, and if you feel it is, explain where it comes from.

I hand the debate back to Pro.

Debate Round No. 3


I thank my opponent for his enthusiastic response.

It is to my pleasure that we have finally arrived at the core of this topic: the definition of morality.
But before I make an attack on that area, I must first address the apparent incongruences and contradictions in my opponent's arguments.

Now that we have both agreed that both the utility of animal experimentation, and whether we should ban it or not, are not relevant issues, I will consider all his points in regards to utility as irrelevant. What I will now examine is his moral arguments only.

My opponent had initially used a moral defense that had its basis on utilitarianism, all of which boil down to these three basic points.

Point 1) The magnitude of the lives saved is larger than the ones sacrificed during the experiment. (Or as I call it the 'moral math' argument)

Point 2) Use of animals is the only realistic viable solution for the problem of consent.

Point 3) A human life weighs more than an animal life.

In the last round, he contradicted himself on all three of these points, which I will now elaborate upon.

He first conceded that number of lives is not the deciding factor for morality. It is curious that he accuses me of using a false analogy on the Hitler-Stalin example. I had used the Hitler vs Stalin example precisely because I had aimed to exhibit that the number of lives taken is not a relevant factor in deciding whether Hitler was less immoral than Stalin.

His answer to my rhetorical question was that it is the intention of mass killing that is relevant, not the number, and in doing so, contradicted his claims on his use of number of lives for moral judgment. While he mentions all other mitigating factors, he had not mentioned these mitigating factors initially when he presented his model, which leads me to the conclusion that he introduces these factors as a means to hide his contradiction.

For his second point, I had formed it into a question to ask back at my opponent, for which he stated that being realistically viable is not a valid moral defense. Hence he rejects the relevance of his second premise in judging the morality of the act at hand.

The third premise is contradicted when he responds to my example of the movie The Island, where human clones are created for organ harvesting.

He stated that he finds both the breeding of human clones in the movie and the oncomice and transgenic pigs a moral equivalent. I believe the life of a human clone can safely be considered a human life, so I can also safely assume that he has unintentionally conceded that human and animal lives are moral equivalents.

Those are not the only flaws in his argument, however.

In light of his accusations of my analogies as ‘false’, it is interesting that he makes a false analogy of his own: the injection analogy. This analogy fails because both the victim and the beneficiary happens to be the same subject. What is interesting is that this point actually fits perfectly with my separation of the moral cause and immoral act. The lack of consent, and the intrusion into the body with foreign material does pose a small immoral act. Yet the moral cause is overwhelmingly beneficial to the subject that the immoral act can be overlooked. This only occurs because the receiving end is also the one making concessions.

But this is not the case here. The one being damaged are the non-humans, and the ones who reap the benefits are humans, or as I have previously asserted, those affiliated with human interests. As much as my opponent states that the rodent species benefits from human research, as long as humans cannot communicate or educate the rodent community of these pearls of wisdom, no realistic benefits occur on the rodent community, which for sake of non-human parties exclude pets. This creates an asymmetry of information and power, and it is of no actual dispute that the rodent population suffers more than it gains from animal experimentation.

Now I must make my advance on his notion of “contextual morality.”

While this model of relative morality may seem apparently valid, it carries a fundamental flaw that my opponent cannot avoid: the relative nature of ‘context.’

The use of ‘context’ makes it implausible to make a moral judgment. Context is relative. The same context can yield different moral conclusions. Let us take my opponent’s lion example. The lion’s prey has its own rights to life, while the lion of course has it too. The lion’s defense for its actions is that in order to live, he must hunt others to survive. The prey’s moral attack will be that it too has its own rights to live. Who then has the moral high ground?

Considering the chain of consumption in the biosphere, this is a very pertinent question. If one party’s moral right is in clash with another's, in my opponent’s model of morality, we cannot determine which moral standard – the prey’s or the predator’s – supersedes the other.

This means that we can either make no judgments on all killings of prey, or conclude that all killings are inherently immoral. As this debate is contingent upon a moral decision, it is safe to assume that by necessity we must assume that there exists an absolute moral standard whose jurisdiction stretches beyond the boundaries of each species, even if that species is the Homo sapiens.

This completely validates my approach in morality: the separation of the morality of the act and the cause (or perhaps intentions broadly). This is in line with our legal understanding of murder, for example. While the act itself is considered a violation, the punitive measures against it is evaluated according to the morality of the cause and intentions. If the immoral act is determined to carry an intention of self-defense, punishments cannot be made, for example.

My opponent has – unintentionally – conceded that an animal life is a moral equivalent to a human life. He has also conceded that an alternative is experimentation on humans. Using an anthropocentric view, he assumes an a priori knowledge that this is inherently immoral, which I, as a fellow human, agree wholeheartedly. Then I have also shown that if human experimentation is immoral, animal experimentation is equally immoral. One cannot be more immoral than the other.

With that, I hand the debate over to my opponent.


Thanks to Pro for his arguments this round, and I'm going to launch straight into this.

Pro is fundamentally misunderstanding my arguments, which is the entire reason he sees contradictions.

From the outset, no, I did not agree that the utility of animal experimentation is irrelevant. That's a necessary portion of understanding my arguments in support of utilitarianism. If it doesn't have utility, it can't also be utilitarian.

Let's go through the summary points he provides.

Point 1) The magnitude of the lives saved is larger than the ones sacrificed during the experiment. (Or as I call it the 'moral math' argument)

It is, in part, a math argument on lives saved and quality of life gained. This one is mostly correct.

Point 2) Use of animals is the only realistic viable solution for the problem of consent.

Not my point. Never once said the word "viable" beyond responding to Pro's question. I said that consent, across the board, is impossible to gain from both humans and animals at this stage, meaning that any harms that come from a lack of consent apply no matter the circumstance, which means consent issues are not unique to my case.

Point 3) A human life weighs more than an animal life.

Pro keeps saying this, yet I've never once, in this debate, made this argument. I've stated that we, like all animals, are self-interested. I've stated that we, unlike other animals, can do research into how to protect from and treat disease. That doesn't make us higher weight, it just emphasizes the very purpose for which we are having this debate. I don't understand where he's getting this point from.

I don't know how Pro completely left out my arguments about a lack of available alternatives and the contextual issues, which were integral to my last round, since these were central to my argumentation.

Now, let's look at those contradictions:

1) Lives lost contradiction

Yes, I did concede that number of lives is not the SOLE factor for deciding morality. Leaving out that word "sole" is a big problem, because he's straw manning my argument. I'm not saying lives lost don't connect to morality - they do. They apply in the Hitler-Stalin example; both men are immoral chiefly for the number of people they killed, though that is not the sole factor to assess with regards to their morality. I mentioned context multiple times throughout my last post and assessed its importance. That doesn't mean that I contradicted any of my former claims about life lost presenting a moral harm. I really don't understand why I have to present every mitigating factor up front - this was a direct response to your analogy. I wasn't about to spend my first post assessing all of the means by which morality is affected in a utilitarian sense. I don't see why my lack of detail shows that I'm "hid[ing my] contradiction," especially since said contradiction doesn't exist. We can evaluate utilitarianism in context without saying that lives lost don't matter.

2) "Realistically viable"

Here, again, he uses this strange verbiage. "Realistically viable." He quoted it in the last round as though it came from me, but I never said that line. There's a difference between viability and utility. Viability is the capacity to be operated or be sustained. Utility is usefulness, the ability of something to satisfy needs or wants. In this case, we're talking about utility for needs. The fact that it can be sustained doesn't make it moral - it just makes it effective. It's as simple as that.

3) The Island

Considering that the third premise is completely wrong, no, I didn't contradict my own point here. He also misunderstands my response. The majority of it is to show that there is utility to a situation where humans are created and not just plucked from the general population in order to benefit other humans. I also stated that this is most moral when a clone is created without a brain, therefore lacking personhood. Pro is nonresponsive to these points.

4) The injection analogy

Pro is mishandling this argument. It doesn't matter who the beneficiary is, or who is the victim. Pro is presenting a deontological argument where he can separate out a means and evaluate its morality without looking forward or backward in time for context. At the point that the injection occurs, there is no beneficiary. It's not until later that the victim becomes the beneficiary. Ergo, as long as I evaluate morality before looking forward to the beneficial effects of the drug, the injection is net harmful.

What's worse, he actually contradicts himself here. Remember in the previous post when he was making a distinction between a moral cause and an immoral act, stating that a moral cause - even one that saves billions of lives - isn't sufficient to make an act moral. Yet here, he justifies intrusion on a person's consent for the purposes of injection of something beneficial. He can't have it both ways.

5) Damage to non-humans for the sake of humans is unconscionable

Pro asserts this, but never provides a reason why this is specifically problematic enough to call the entire practice immoral. The asymmetry of information and power is nonunique - human beings assert that power over rodents in everyday life. Changing this is not going to suddenly empower rodents. What this does do is provide some protection for rodent pets (which, last I checked, is still a benefit for some rodents).

6) Context is relative

This point is just plain confounding. Pro looks at the complicated context of a lion eating prey, and uses it to say that ALL contextual morality is relative. He never shows how context isn't straightforward in this case. It's not enough to use an analogy - he can't simply state that the context of this particular case is relative by analyzing another. The only point he makes in this regard is that "it is safe to assume that by necessity we must assume that there is an absolute moral standard whose jurisdiction stretches beyond the boundaries of both species," but this is absolute nonsense. We're focusing on humans and their effects on animals of interest. We don't need an absolute moral standard for this because other species outside of this research and its effects don't play a role; we must simply evaluate the effects on life and its quality lost (which, I would say, is an absolute moral standard anyway, though it doesn't have to be).

And no, it doesn't validate your approach. Just because it's more difficult to evaluate across species doesn't mean we shouldn't do it. Your simplicity by comparison doesn't make your evaluation the correct one. The legal understanding of murder is actually strong support for my view. We have to look at the cause and intentions of the research, and not just at the morality of the research itself in a vacuum.

7) Concession on equivalency

Pro keeps misunderstanding this point. I've already stated my views on equivalency as completely as I can manage, and no, it's not a concession - Pro assumed from the start of this debate that my position on this issue was opposite his. The reason I said that human experimentation was mainly immoral had to do with utility - using more humans and taking longer to test due to longer life cycles. Another reason I didn't mention is that, unlike with rodents, we can't just breed humans in a lab environment for the purpose of research, and we certainly can't genetically modify them to be identical, or to have certain characteristics of interest for specific tests. We've become effective at these things for rodents, and already have populations available. To do the same for humans would simply compound the problems of captivity and experimentation.

Overall, my opponent has tried, time and time again, to peg my arguments as faulted utilizing his views of what my arguments should be. He points out flaws that don't exist (though I'll admit, my arguments are far from perfect), and uses false analogies as attempts to point out more.

Last time, back to Pro.
Debate Round No. 4


I will now proceed to make my final statements in this last round.

While my opponent has repeatedly tried to dismiss my arguments and counter arguments, I will now summarize my points to show that it is actually he who has misunderstood my points and arguments, not me.

The fundamental difference in our arguments actually stems from the different models of "morality" that we are using in our arguments.

I argue the following:

1) The standards of utility and morality that my opponent uses is from a human viewpoint, and cannot be used as the moral standards for this debate.

My opponent talks about how the alternatives are worse off. For example, he uses the fact that humans do not have the short reproductive cycles of mice, and hence greater number of lives - human lives - will be in jeopardy in human experimentation. He also speaks of how not carrying out animal experimentation would handicap research and would result in a failure to make effective disease control.

But remember that this is worse off from a viewpoint of a human. The alternatives consume more human lives, or it jeopardizes more human lives as a consequence of poor research progress. All other arguments that he uses, of the pragmatic difficulty - the "realistically viable" was a poor use of double quotes, but was a paraphrase of this point - associated with consent, is essentially an argument that does not leave the anthropocentric viewpoint.

My opponent concedes that all animals act in their own self-interest. Animal experimentation is essentially the same. Humans are sacrificing other species for their own interests. My opponent attempts to argue that animals do benefit from human research. Yet he also concedes that animal experimentation is a tool to analyze the potential effects of certain material or procedures on humans. This shows that the primary beneficiaries are humans. It is also important to realize that the potential non-human beneficiaries only include pets and livestock and those that are aligned with human interests. I wish to emphasize that the general non-human community do not benefit, just as wild rodents do not benefit from human research.

My opponent easily states that the ends justify the means precisely because the means justify HUMAN ends. Of course for a human, in his self-interests, would argue that since it justifies human needs, it is moral to sacrifice others. Consider, in the viewpoint of the non-human species. What is moral about taking members of their species to experiment on them? From the viewpoint of the rats, animal experimentation is immoral, just as it is immoral for predators to kill mice in the viewpoint of mice. This is why I have used the prey and predator model. Contrary to my opponent's beliefs, this example is completely relevant.

What is important to realize is that then the utility of experimenting on animals becomes irrelevant. It is effective and useful only in human context. In the viewpoint of the victimized animals, nothing is more unjustified than the act of taking their lives for human interests.

This is precisely why the "contextual morality" cannot be used as a viable model. All of the 'contextual' arguments that my opponent argues assumes the viewpoint of humans. But animal experimentation does not involve just humans. The victims are animals, and as thus what seems moral for humans is not a standard we should use.

So which one must we accept: the rodents' moral argument, or my opponent's human argument?

2) We must separate the morality of an action and the morality of its intent.

I have argued that morality of a predator attacking a prey cannot be determined by the moral standards of either the prey or the predator. This implies that the contextual morality model that my opponent uses cannot produce a valid moral decision.. What is apparently moral for us may not be for the subjects of our acts. For the purposes of a moral decision, we should consider all sacrifice of other party's rights for one party's as immoral. Whether or not it aids more of our kind, animal experimentation victimizes other animals, and thus must be considered inherently immoral.

In doing so, I have proposed a model that separates an act and the cause. While my opponent claims I've contradicted myself on my analysis of the injection analogy, I have not. The injection is immoral, while the intent is not. I used the term "overlooked" and not "justify" when I explained how the act would be ignored in face of its more pronounced intent when the victim and the beneficiary is the same person. Some, for example, consider the immorality of the injection more important than the morality of the intent, and thus refuse injections altogether. I do not see how I have contradicted myself.

This model that I use is in line with all of the legal decisions. On murder, the act is considered a violation while its intent is used as a measure to determine punishments. Samaritan Laws dictate that if there was good intent for the victim involved, punishments must be exempt. Self-defense is also another example. Animal experimentation must follow suit. The experimentation on animals itself is an immoral act. The intent of doing so is moral: to save more lives by research.


I admit that my opponent has sound arguments on why the benefits of the experimentation, and the alternatives may affect our judgment on the morality of animal experimentation.

But his arguments have never escaped the viewpoint of us humans. If we are to judge the morality of this act, we cannot just consider ourselves but the victims too. However just it may appear to humans, this cannot be our validation for the morality of an act that not only involves us, but the animals as well.

In doing so, we must concede that the act itself is inherently immoral.

Animal experimentation is inhently immoral.

With that. I finish my arguments on this debate. I thank my opponent again, for allowing this debate to be as deep and serious as it has been.



I'd like to thank my opponent for an intriguing debate on morality. It seems that we have very different views, but I've appreciated his arguments greatly. It's been a very intriguing debate and I've greatly appreciated the opportunity to have it.

With that, I'll launch into some crystallization and concluding statements.

First and foremost, let's briefly look back at the topic, because I think we've spent so much time on the details that we've gotten away from the overall picture.

The topic is: "Animal experimentation is immoral." It doesn't say "animal experimentation is immoral to wild animals," nor does it say "animal experimentation is immoral to laboratory animals" or even animals in general. So when we're discussing morality, we're discussing it for every form of life, though there might be some justification made for why morality towards a given species is better than another.

I've provided some of this. I've stated that humans are the sole species capable of doing this research, and therefore the sole ones capable of treating illness and injury among any animal species. Pro's argument that this doesn't affect many wild animals is mitigation, not offense " the reality that the research we perform doesn't affect every living creature doesn't make it less moral, just less applicable. Moreover, this, once again, shows that Pro's views are focused on utility. Sure, he's against that utility being used solely to benefit human interests (though he has in no way stated why it's harmful to do so, just why it should be more broadly applied), but he seems to have no problem with using utility to assess morality in the animal context, something that seems awfully contradictory to me. Huh. Context. That sounds familiar.

So let's talk on contextual morality. Even in this final round, Pro provides little in the way of response to using this as the most appropriate assessment of morality. He isn't responsive to my points about his view being simplistic, nor those I've made about his own points also being contextual, just stopping that context immediately after animal research occurs. In fact, his only response to my framework of evaluating morality is that we should think about the animals and not the humans. He provides absolutely no reason to prefer the outcomes for these animals over the outcomes for humans, nor does he explain why contextual morality cannot be applied to the animals as well. He just rejects the idea. That's not enough to make it unreasonable, nor does it prove his better.

Pro essentially brushes off my points on the alternatives being nonfunctional, stating that they only show that humans are worse off in the absence of animal testing. Not true. I've already explained how at least some animals are benefited, something Pro conceded in the last round (it doesn't matter if those animals are under human interest) " all of the alternatives reduce that benefit. But, again, if it benefits humans, that's still a contextually moral good. Pro continues to concede this and treats it as a non-issue, but he's practically conceding the debate by doing so. Worse yet, Pro is completely non-responsive to my point in the last round that this research would never be pursued at all if it wasn't focused on human benefit (animals don't have money to pay for this research), something he admits from the start of this debate is a huge harm, even if it's just to humans and those animals of interest.

I think Pro's second point showcases another gulf between our understanding in this debate. He's essentially stating that intent should not be factored into the morality of animal experimentation. I've already made this point, and I spent a good deal of time in the last two rounds explaining why, all of which Pro has misunderstood. The analogy I made with regards to injections is really key to this, and much as Pro claims he didn't contradict himself, the word "overlook" is still a problem here. Let's look back at the sentence in which this occurred:

"Yet the moral cause is overwhelmingly beneficial to the subject that the immoral act can be overlooked."

In other words, the moral cause, something that Pro originally felt was unimportant to the morality of a given act, is important within the context of an injection. No, it's not a justification. It doesn't have to be. If you can overlook the immorality of a given act due to its moral cause, then the moral cause plays a role in assessing its morality in the wider context. The injection as a whole is moral because it treats illness, and the relative pain and damage of injection is a small immoral cost by comparison. Sure, some people may make value judgments that lead to them spurning the injection despite its moral benefits, but that's irrelevant. We're not looking at individual opinions, we're looking at wide moral frameworks. Across the population, it is more moral to receive treatment for a disease than it is immoral to receive injury from a needle. If we were to look at individual opinion, then I could call this debate over by simply saying that we disagree, that there is therefore no immoral or moral in this context, and therefore I win. I think that Pro would rather that didn't happen.

Pro keeps on claiming that, so long as we are victimizing another species, we cannot be moral actors. He still doesn't warrant this claim. I've already explained multiple times that victims will exist no matter the circumstances. Pro never refutes this argument. Pro also never explains why victimizing another species is worse than victimizing one's own, something I've warranted as net harmful. As long as he's losing this point, he's losing any moral high ground he might have had in this debate.

Lastly, Pro touches back on murder, again ignoring how these same arguments take things into context. It matters what the intent was, something my opponent contended had no place in an argument about the morality of a given action. It matters what the context of the action was, especially in the case of self-defense. He says animal experimentation should follow suit? I agree. It should follow suit, and intent and context should be major concerns when it comes to evaluating its morality as well.

The only thing Pro says against this is:

"The intent of doing so is immoral: to save more lives by research."

I think I've provided sufficient response to this. It's interesting that he suddenly cares about intent when the title of this section is "We must separate the morality of an actions from the morality of its intent," but I'm fine with it. Pro has simply never provided any warrants for why saving lives through research is immoral. Whether they're human lives or animal lives, they matter, and this research saves more than it kills. Pro never argues this " in fact, he argues that we cannot distinguish the importance between humans and animals. Even by that analysis, more lives are saved among humans than are lost among lab animals, which is reason enough to vote Con.


I've already stated much of why I feel I should win this debate, but probably the biggest reason is that Pro concedes utility as an important measure of morality in R5. I really don't need anything more than my R2 post to win this debate in this instance, since Pro conceded all my points about benefits, even if he's attempted to mitigate it through this anthropacentricism argument. The utility arguments are all strongly on my side in this debate, and so long as Pro doesn't show a strong negative to utility that results from victimizing rodents, I'm winning the moral argument.

It's simply not inherent that animal experimentation is immoral, especially when all of the alternatives are significantly more harmful to larger swaths of life on this planet. The world is too complex and the consequences of our actions, both good and bad, too important to declare inherency. We cannot side with simplicity over substance, especially on the subject of morality.
Debate Round No. 5
25 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Relativist 7 years ago
Btw, That cross examination questions are a + for readers to enjoy. I really recommend dwkwvss to stay, he did put up a really good argument. If you haven't, perhaps you should read debate tournaments as a start, since that's how I got glued to this website when I first came.
Posted by dwkwvss 7 years ago
Thanks you! As for past experience, I don't have much. I did briefly do debates in high school a few years back, but that's it. I did really like debating back then.

Although if you count arguing on Youtube... well.. I guess that actually helps. =) You should try it. Fighting off trolls and arguing over divisive issues can be taxing but also.. surprisingly helpful in terms of practicing logic...
Posted by dwkwvss 7 years ago
Thanks you! As for past experience, I don't have much. I did briefly do debates in high school a few years back, but that's it. I did really like debating back then.

Although if you count arguing on Youtube... well.. I guess that actually helps. =) You should try it. Fighting off trolls and arguing over divisive issues can be taxing but also.. surprisingly helpful in terms of practicing logic...
Posted by Sswdwm 7 years ago
Great Debate Guys.

I'm pretty sleepy right now and I need to re-read it, but the time for vote is short so I need to cast mine now.

The debate was very close, and Pro was excellent considering it's his first time writing here, I'm guessing he's had some type of experience elsewhere.

As for the arguments, Con's argument from pragmatics in my eyes wastes a lot of his time, since it didn't hold much weight into the title of the debate, animal testing is immoral. Instead Pro I think would have done better if he concentrated on the utilitatian side of morality, and accept Pro's assertions that , yes, indiscriminately more animals are killed than would be Humans, against their will. Pro needed to argue that it is moral despite this being the case, or why a Human life is objectively more valuable than an animal's life

I don't feel con responded effectively on those points, self-interest and potential animal treatments were extremely weak points against this when it's patently clear that the research is never done with the animal species' future well being will be improved, it's almost certainly purely human and monetary-motivated.

Pro also made a number of weak points, such as the injection analogy and the Hitler v Stalin comparison to demonstrate the weaknesses of Utilitarianism, so they didn't hold much weight. He did enough with pressing on the animal vs human rights though.

I believe Con's case is probably correct objectively speaking, but that's coming from my own thoughts taking when I read in this debate, but that's my own thoughts and not an indication of the performance of the debaters themselves, to which I credit to Pro, albeit by a very small margin. Thanks guys.
Posted by whiteflame 7 years ago
Honestly, I think that's part of why this debate was so good - we had a lot to say, and 8000 characters was necessary to make our full arguments. Sure we got excited, but that's the beauty of it. Thanks for the praise, Relativist, dwkwvss may be new to the site, but he put on quite a debate.
Posted by dwkwvss 7 years ago
I realize that in our excitement in the issue we almost went full length with our 8000 character limits every round.. so it may be a little too long to read the whole thing through. But I still appreciate your thoughts on the issue. I'm really new to this website, so if you have any feedback to give me I am willing to listen to anything =) Thanks!
Posted by Sswdwm 7 years ago
Halfway through the debate, I'll vote sometime tomorrow.
Posted by Relativist 7 years ago
Wow, Both of you are stunning. I really love the style and format and the depth both of you have on the issue. As a person with a huge interest on this issue, It is such a HUGE PRIVILEGE to read both of your essays. You have my gratitude.
Posted by Romanii 7 years ago
Looks like an interesting debate. I'll be voting on it soon.
Posted by whiteflame 7 years ago
Much obliged for creating this debate and for having it so thoroughly with me. It's been a very long time since I've had such a strong moral debate, and I greatly appreciated the opportunity. Don't worry about timing - as long as you're in under 3 days, I'm more than happy. And yes, I would be happy to engage you in future debates as well.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Sswdwm 7 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: RFD in Comments
Vote Placed by Romanii 7 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: I'm tying S&G and Conduct, as both were excellent on both sides; same with sources, as neither side made very extensive use of them. The only point I'll be awarding is Arguments. This debate was VERY hard to judge; I found myself being swayed from side to side with every round. However, in the end, I believe Con earned my vote. He successfully proved that context, particularly concerning utility, DOES matter when evaluating an action's moral value. He showed that Pro's analogies were false comparisons because they lacked the context of animal experimentation, and he also showed how Pro inadvertently conceded most of the points made about contextual morality and utility by contradicting himself. Thus, Arguments go to Con. However, Pro did a great job, and I can certainly see him becoming a prominent debater on the site, given the skill he has displayed here even as a new user. Props to both sides for a great debate!

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