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Danielle's picture

Human vs. Animal Morality

During our discussion I felt that we were focusing on the fact that humans are also animals so why do we not use humans for studying disease and for drug testing? And, why do we use smaller animals? I think that the answer can be given in two parts. First, rats, rabbits, hamsters, and other animals typically used for research, all have a lower level of functioning. In some part, this has to do with the fact that these animals have a much smaller cortex than humans. Research shows that it is a human’s larger area of cortex that allows for higher levels of functioning and thought. Thus, lab animals, which have a smaller area of cortex, do not see the world and do not function cognitively in a manner that is comparable to humans. Since lab animals see things differently they probably do not understand or comprehend lab research as a disgrace and abuse to their species. In terms of humans, we see human related lab research as abuse to the human race and as morally disgraceful.


For the second part of the answer, humans have a moral and ethical obligation to the respect of another human. This does not mean all humans are morally or ethically sound, but most of the time people feel that they have a moral obligation to the human species. In terms of lab rats, one lab rat does not feel the same moral obligation to another lab rat in the same way that humans do, primarily because they are incapable of forming these moral judgments. One could say that rats cannot form these moral judgments because they have a smaller cortex.


Another aspect to this whole topic is the fact that the human culture has also molded a socially ethical code. This code involves the respect for one human to another. Again this is not always the case but I feel that we all grow up with this engrained within the culture of our childhood. I think that other animals do not undergo or follow this strict moral code and are incapable of developing such understandings of the world. I do not think taking away a pup from a new rat mother would yield the same emotional response as a human baby being taken away from a human mother. Both cases while cruel in the human perspective would perhaps not be seen as cruel by the rat mother.


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