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Pain, vivisection, and the value of life
  1. R G Frey
  1. Correspondence to:
 R G Frey
 Department of Philosophy, Bowling Green University, Bowling Green, Ohio 43403, USA;

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Pain alone does not settle the issue of vivisection

In his paper, Lab animals and the art of empathy, David Thomas presents his case against animal experimentation. That case is a rather unusual one in certain respects. It turns upon the fact that, for Thomas, nothing can be proved or established in ethics, with the result that what we are left to operate with, apart from assumptions about cases that we might choose to make, are people’s feelings. We cannot show or demonstrate that Pol Pot did anything morally wrong; we just have to hope, as seems not unreasonably demanding, that most people feel pretty strongly about large scale slaughter of human beings. Since nothing can be proven, we turn instead to our feelings and the three claims that Thomas features in his paper: that we should empathise with all creatures who can feel pain and suffer; that we should be consistent in condemning things based upon a similar degree of suffering involved and so treat like cases alike, and that we should take consent seriously, and, where the possibility of consent is absent, take seriously the notion of the best interests of the creature involved. Thomas concludes his paper with a succinct statement of his position: “In other words, we should look at things from the perspective of the victim, human or animal, not that of the would be exploiter. By this yardstick, animal experiments are as immoral as non-consensual experiments on people. In each case, the degree of immorality is in direct proportion to the degree of suffering caused—experiments causing severe suffering are more immoral than those causing only mild, transient suffering. Crucially, however, an experiment causing severe suffering to an animal is as immoral as one causing severe suffering to a person.”

All animal experiments, therefore, have …

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