Animal testing

use of animals as models of the human organism
(Redirected from Vivisection)

Animal testing is the use of non-human animals in experiments that seek to control the variables that affect the behavior or biological system under study. Experimental research with animals is usually conducted in universities, medical schools, pharmaceutical companies, defense establishments, and commercial facilities that provide animal-testing services to industry.

Rats and mice are not generally regarded as pets, but as pests; they have few defenders. Yet the pain a rat or a mouse feels is every bit as real as that of any pet. In laboratories, they suffer, as anybody who has heard them moan, cry, whimper and even scream knows. ~ J. M. Masson


Alphabetized by author
  • I dislike the whole business of experiments on animals, unless there's some very good and altogether exceptional reason in a particular case. The thing that gets me is that it's not possible for the animals to understand why they're being called upon to suffer. They don't suffer for their own good or benefit at all, and I often wonder how far it's for anyone's. They're given no choice, and there's no central authority responsible for deciding whether what's done in this case or that is morally justifiable. These experimental animals are just sentient objects; they're useful because they're able to react; sometimes precisely because they're able to feel fear and pain. And they're used as if they were electric light bulbs or boots. What it comes to is that whereas there used to be human and animal slaves, now there are just animal slaves. They have no legal rights, and no choice in the matter.
  • Animals themselves cannot plead their cause, and those who plead it for them have no obvious financial or other selfish interest in the issue, although many may have “vested” their emotions in it. When we turn to special gain from maintaining existing practices, special loss if they were to be changed, we find a large number of groups whose views might be discounted. Butchers, furriers, hunters, cattlemen, chicken farmers, scientific experimenters on animals would, unless compensated, all have to suffer significant personal loss if we were to change our practices. They cannot therefore be expected to see the moral issue without the distortion of special interest. The scientists might claim that in their case their own interest coincides with a universal human interest, but I think the butcher and the furrier could make a similar claim[.]
    • Annette Baier, "Knowing Our Place in the Animal World", in Ethics and Animals, edited by Harlan B. Miller and William H. Williams (Clifton, NJ: Humana Press, 1983), pp. 63-64.
  • Animals can not disapprove, but they can complain and protest, at least until their vocal chords are cut to spare experimenters their protests.
    • Annette Baier, "Knowing Our Place in the Animal World", in Ethics and Animals, edited by Harlan B. Miller and William H. Williams (Clifton, NJ: Humana Press, 1983), p. 73.
  • Last year a Dutch animal breeding centre sent me two chimpanzees as a gift. I killed one and cut its heart out. The other wept bitterly and was inconsolable. The sad chimp has long since happily mated again and lives with lots of other animals on a pleasant game farm near Villiersdorp. I vowed never again to experiment with such sensitive creatures, but the memory of that weeping chimp has remained with me. It was taken for granted, of course, that he was weeping for his mate but I've since had some thoughts on the subject which made me wonder whether perhaps he was weeping for the human race. The idea is not as silly as it sounds. In our doings there is much to weep over and even a chimpanzee would never behave in some of the contradictory ways we think of as normal.
  • I should be writing a third paper on the Nerves, but I cannot proceed without making some experiments, which are so unpleasant to make that I defer them. You may think me silly, but I cannot perfectly convince myself that I am authorised in nature, or religion, to do these cruelties—for what?—for anything else than a little egotism or self-aggrandisement; and yet, what are my experiments in comparison with those which are daily done? and are done daily for nothing.
    • Charles Bell, letter to his brother on 1 July 1822; in Letters of Sir Charles Bell, K.H., F.R.S.L. & E. Selected from his Correspondence with his Brother, George Joseph Bell, London: John Murray, 1870, pp. 275-276.
  • In concluding these papers, I hope I may be permitted to offer a few words in favour of anatomy, as better adapted for discovery than experiment. … Experiments have never been the means of discovery; and a survey of what has been attempted of late years in physiology, will prove that the opening of living animals has done more to perpetuate error, than to confirm the just views taken from the study of anatomy and natural motions.
    • Charles Bell, An Exposition of the Natural System of the Nerves of the Human Body. With a Republication of the Papers Delivered to the Royal Society, on the Subject of the Nerves, London: Spottiswoode, 1824, pp. 376-377.
  • Nearly all modern techniques of social conditioning were first established with animal experiments. As were also the methods of so-called intelligence testing. Today behaviourists like Skinner imprison the very concept of man within the limits of what they conclude from their artificial tests with animals.
    • John Berger, About Looking (1980), chapter "Why Look at Animals?", Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015, p. 11.
  • To hold vivisection to be never justified is a hard belief. But so is its opposite. I believe it is never justified because I can see nothing (except our being able to get away with it) which lets us pick on animals that would not equally let us pick on idiot humans (who would be more useful) or, for the matter of that, on a few humans of any sort whom we might sacrifice for the good of the many. If we do permit vivisection, here if anywhere we are under the most stringent minimum obligations. The very least we must make sure of is that no experiment is ever duplicated, or careless, or done for mere teaching's sake or as a substitute for thinking. Knowing how often, in every other sphere, pseudo-work proliferates in order to fill time and jobs, and how often activity substitutes for thought, and then reading the official statistics about vivisection, do you truly believe we do make sure?
    • Brigid Brophy, "The Rights of Animals" (Sunday Times, 1965), in Don't Ever Forget: Collected Views and Reviews (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966), pp. 19-20.
  • To what extent do we have a right to torture animals? … Experiments are torturing animals, let's say. That's what they are. So to what extent do we have a right to torture animals for our own good? I think that's not a trivial question.
  • As the main work of civilisation has been the vindication of the rights of the weak, it is not too much, I think, to insist that the practice of Vivisection in which this tyranny of strength culminates is a retrograde step in the progress of our race—a backwater in the onward flowing stream of justice and mercy, no less portentous than deplorable.
    • Frances Cobbe, The Modern Rack: Papers on Vivisection (London: Swan Sonnenschein, 1889), chapter I: "The Moral Aspects of Vivisection", p. 15.
  • The love of a dog for his master is notorious; in the agony of death he has been known to caress his master, and every one has heard of the dog suffering under vivisection, who licked the hand of the operator; this man, unless he had a heart of stone, must have felt remorse to the last hour of his life.
  • Libby had eaten her last meal the night before: orange, banana, monkey chow. While eating she had observed us with curiosity. Her hands resembled the hands of a newly born child, her face seemed almost human. Perhaps because of her eyes. They were so sad, so defenseless. We had called her Libby because Dr. Maurice Albin, the anesthetist, had told us she had no name, we could give her the name we liked best, and because she accepted it immediately. You said ‘Libby!’ and she jumped, then she leaned her head on her shoulder. Dr. Albin had also told us that Libby had been born in India and was almost three years, an age comparable to that of a seven-year-old girl. The rhesuses live 30 years and she was a rhesus. Prof. Robert White uses the rhesus because they are not expensive; they cost between $80 and $100. Chimpanzees, larger and easier to experiment with, cost up to $2,000 each. After the meal, a veterinarian had come, and with as much ceremony as they use for the condemned, he had checked to be sure Libby was in good health. It would be a difficult operation and her body should function as perfectly as a rocket going to the moon. A hundred times before, the experiment had ended in failure, and though Professor White became the first man in the entire history of medicine to succeed, the undertaking still bordered on science fiction. Libby was about to die in order to demonstrate that her brain could live isolated from her body and that, so isolated, it could still think.
  • How fortunate we didn't have these animal tests in the 1940s, for penicillin would probably not have been granted a licence, and possibly the whole field of antibiotics might never have been realised.
    • Alexander Fleming, reported in Dennis V. Parke, "Clinical Pharmacokinetics in Drug Safety Evaluation," in ATLA: Alternatives To Laboratory Animals, vol. 22, no. 3, May/June 1994, p. 208.
    • The context is: "the present approach to drug safety evaluation, based on experimental animal studies, is known to be of questionable scientific veracity and has never been satisfactorily validated as an appropriate surrogate system for man. My former teacher, Sir Alexander Fleming, in his late years, chided me, saying …"
  • Humans are currently the dominant species on earth and exercise a great deal of power and control over nature. But very few believe might makes right, so the fact that we have greater power cannot enter into a justification of our use and treatment of animals. Rather, where other beings are under our power, we should feel obligated to show self-restraint and to act out of mercy and compassion. We cannot avoid causing harm to other beings in the process of living our own lives. Nor does morality consist in trying to be perfect and pure. But we can adopt an orientation toward minimizing the amount of harm we cause and taking full responsibility for it, seeing it for what it is. To justify animal experimentation is to start at one end of a continuum. Much of what we do will be morally acceptable (in our eyes), and we will chip away at the extremity where what we do shades into cruelty. I no longer believe that a general moral justification of animal experimentation can be given.
  • The victory of vivisection marks a great advance in the triumph of ruthless, non-moral utilitarianism over the old world of ethical law; a triumph in which we, as well as animals, are already the victims, and of which Dachau and Hiroshima mark the more recent achievements.
  • The professional and financial interest in continuing animal experimentation helps to explain at least some resistance to the notion that animals have a complex emotional life and are capable of experiencing the higher emotions, such as love, compassion, altruism, disappointment and nostalgia. To acknowledge such a possibility implies certain moral obligations. If chimpanzees can experience loneliness and mental anguish, it becomes more wrong to use them for experiments in which they are isolated and anticipate daily pain.
    • Jeffrey M. Masson and Susan McCarthy, When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals (London: Vintage, 1996), Preface, p. 15.
  • It is often said that if slaughterhouses were made of glass, most people would be vegetarians. If the general public knew what went on inside animal experimentation laboratories, they would be abolished. However, the parallel is not exact. Slaughterhouses are invisible because the public wants them that way. Everyone knows what goes on inside them; they simply do not want to be confronted with it. Most people do not know what goes on with animal experimentation. Slaughterhouses allow visits. Laboratories where animal experiments are performed are secretive. Perhaps those who conduct the experiments know they would be stopped if what they do were known even by other scientists. Perhaps they are ashamed.
    • Jeffrey M. Masson and Susan McCarthy, When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals (London: Vintage, 1996), Conclusion, pp. 216-217.
  • Rats and mice are not generally regarded as pets, but as pests; they have few defenders. Yet the pain a rat or a mouse feels is every bit as real as that of any pet. In laboratories, they suffer, as anybody who has heard them moan, cry, whimper and even scream knows. The experimenters dissimulate about this by insisting that they are merely vocalising.
    • Jeffrey M. Masson and Susan McCarthy, When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals (London: Vintage, 1996), Conclusion, p. 217.
  • One type of medical research involves ascertaining whether certain pathological conditions in humans can be alleviated or cured by certain drugs. Animals are used as "models" upon which to test these treatments. To do this it is necessary for the animal subject to have the condition in question, and in order to bring this about healthy animals are made sick. … It turns out, however, that the conditions artificially induced have little in common with the naturally occurring diseases in animals (when these exist) and much less in common with the diseases in man.
    • Deborah Mayo, "Against a Scientific Justification of Animal Experiments", in Ethics and Animals, edited by Harlan B. Miller and William H. Williams (Clifton, NJ: Humana Press, 1983), pp. 343-344.
  • Arguments to the effect that it is wrong to cause pain and suffering to animals are often rejected by claiming that animals simply do not suffer. … Ironically, it is precisely upon the assumption that animals do suffer from stress, fear, and pain in a manner similar to humans that the validity of much of animal experimentation rests. Few, if any, conditions are studied as widely in animals as are pain, stress, ulcers, fear, and anxiety.
    • Deborah Mayo, "Against a Scientific Justification of Animal Experiments", in Ethics and Animals, edited by Harlan B. Miller and William H. Williams (Clifton, NJ: Humana Press, 1983), pp. 345-346.
  • Misleading may be the claims that procedures [of animal testing] are carried out under anaesthesia. Restraining devices and paralysing drugs can today be so effective that an anaesthetic is often unnecessary from the purely practical point of view. The risk of giving a dose too large and thereby losing an expensive chimpanzee, for example, may often tempt a scientist or technician, inexperienced with sophisticated anaesthetic techniques, to give a dose too small, from which the animal quickly recovers — but not of course until after it has been strapped securely to the operating table.
  • Differences in reaction to toxic substances vary considerably between species so that the value of these tests remains doubtful. Although thalidomide was extensively tested on animals in several countries, its terrible properties were not discovered. Conversely, penicillin, the greatest medical discovery of the century, was not extensively tested on animals before its miraculous therapeutic qualities were demonstrated in human patients. If it had been fully tested on animals its high toxicity for guinea pigs would have almost certainly prevented its clinical use.
  • Sometimes captured from the great arboreal freedom of their jungle homes, monkeys are closely confined in cages only three or four feet square. … They can never sit or lie down on a flat, soft or yielding surface. Little wonder that by the time they are needed for the knife or the needle they are so crazed or inert that they are no longer representative examples of animal life. Psychologists who study the behaviour of thousands of such creatures annually, rarely make allowances for the fact that their pathetic subjects have been so deprived that they have become more like monsters than animals. Many people who have experienced close affectionate relationships with individuals of other species testify to the considerable potential for emotional and intellectual development that animals have. When properly cared for a pet dog or cat can develop great subtleties of behaviour that the laboratory animal never shows. Those who have been fortunate enough to closely observe unfrightened animals living in the wild are often struck by the complexity and richness of the life they lead. These positive pleasures the laboratory animal never knows; for him the same four white walls and the smell of disinfectant.
  • It is idle to spend a single moment in advocating the rights of the lower animals, if such rights do not include a total and unqualified exemption from the awful tortures of vivisection-from the doom of being slowly and mercilessly dismembered, or flayed, or baked alive, or infected with some deadly virus, or subjected to any of the numerous modes of torture inflicted by the Scientific Inquisition.
  • Those who experiment with operations or the use of drugs upon animals, or inoculate them with diseases, so as to be able to bring help to mankind with the results gained, must never quiet any misgivings they feel with the general reflection that their cruel proceedings aim at a valuable result. They must first have considered in each individual case whether there is a real necessity to force upon any animal this sacrifice for the sake of mankind. And they must take the most anxious care to mitigate as much as possible the pain inflicted. How much wrong is committed in scientific institutions through neglect of anaesthetics, which to save time or trouble are not administered! How much, too, through animals being subjected to torture merely to demonstrate to students generally known phenomena! By the very fact that animals have been subjected to experiments, and have by their pain won such valuable results for suffering humanity, a new and special relation of solidarity has been established between them and us. From that springs for each one of us a compulsion to do to every animal all the good we possibly can. By helping an insect when it is in difficulties, I am only attempting to cancel part of man's ever new debt to the animal world.
    • Albert Schweitzer, Civilization and Ethics, 3rd edition, London: Adam & Charles Black, 1946, p. 252.
  • I believe I am not interested to know whether Vivisection produces results that are profitable to the human race or doesn't. To know that the results are profitable to the race would not remove my hostility to it. The pains which it inflicts upon unconsenting animals is the basis of my enmity towards it, and it is to me sufficient justification of the enmity without looking further. It is so distinctly a matter of feeling with me, and is so strong and so deeply-rooted in my make and constitution, that I am sure I could not even see a vivisector vivisected with anything more than a sort of qualified satisfaction.
  • Some barbarians seize this dog, who so prodigiously excels man in friendship, they nail him to a table, and dissect him living, to show the mezarian veins. You discover in him all the same organs of sentiment which are in yourself. Answer me, machinist, has nature arranged all the springs of sentiment in this animal that he should not feel? Has he nerves to be incapable of suffering? Do not suppose this impertinent contradiction in nature.
    • Voltaire, "Beasts", in A Philosophical Dictionary, Volume 2, J. and H. L. Hunt, 1824, p. 9.

See also

Wikipedia has an article about:

Animal Experimentation - Animal Ethics