Should Animals be Used in Research to Improve Human Lives?

Should Animals be Used in Research to Improve Human Lives?

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Should Animals be Used in Research to Improve Human Lives?

Using animals to research issue related to humankind has a long-standing legacy and a protracted history. Over 100 million animals are estimated to be used in experiments in the United States annually, indicating that animal studies are still relevant and useful in research (The Humane Society of the United States, 2022). Most of these animals were domesticated, including dogs, cats, mice, guinea pigs, fish, and birds, just to name a few (PETA, 2022). Some ground breaking medical breakthroughs and the thorough understanding of the human physiology have benefited immensely from researches involving animals as subjects. Primate research has particularly contributed significantly to our understanding of many human-relate issues because they possess a biological foundation very similar to that of human beings. In addition, mice and other small animals have been used extensively in medical and psychological research to elucidation the functioning of human systems and their reaction to diseases and other external stimuli. Most animal researches intended to improve human lives are conducted in universities and medical research institutions. The moral value of testing animals to benefit human lives is premised on the notion that human live is more valuable than animal life, thus underpinning why sacrificing animal life for the sake of human life is morally justifiable. The advocates of animal experimentation argue that the findings from such studies help improve human lives. However, the opponents of animal experimentation often present an ethical argument against the use of animals in experiments, arguing that it is a cruel practice. The first perspectives used to support the use of animals in research to improve human lives contends that use of animals in research helps to preserve human dignity by not experimenting with people when the study outcomes are uncertain. The second supportive perspective is that animals, such as mice and farm animals, are commonly used for research, and can be availed readily and abundantly, unlike their human equivalents. Contrastingly, the perspective opposing the use of animals in research to improve human lives is that the use of animals as research subjects undermines animal rights because it causes undue harm to the animals. Also, the findings from the research involving animals may not be translatable to human beings and therefore, may cause unprecedented adverse outcomes in human beings.

The purpose of this paper is to present a supporting position of the topic of whether animals should be used in research to improve human lives. The discussion demonstrates that animals should be used in researches seeking to improve human lives considering that there is overwhelming evidence of the benefits that human being have derived from the findings of animal research. The argument presupposes that if animals were not used in research, many human beings would end up being used as research subjects or even die while undergoing medical studies, some of which are life-threatening.  The argument here is that animals should be used in research to improve human lives because they can save valuable lives and avoid using human being as experimental subjects when the outcome are not certain and have a high likelihood of failure.     

Pro Position: Proponents/Perspectives in Favor

There are several reasons supporting the use of animals as research subjects in studies seeking to improve human lives. Firstly, the use of animals in research helps to preserve human dignity by not experimenting with people when the study outcomes are uncertain. Experimenting with humans in studies whose outcome are uncertain and potentially dangerous often raises ethical questions. The ethical questions are often related to whether it is right to subject human being to experiments which induce pain or injure the subjects or whose outcomes are unknown. The justification of this perspective is that human dignity overrides the concerns about animal safety. A human rights activist would support this perspective, which elevates the position of human being above that of animals and the primacy of protecting human dignity in experimental studies. 

Kleinert et al. (2018) revealed that many undesirable and adverse effects and toxicities of interventions and medications had been unearthed through animal models. This approach has protected many patients and healthy volunteers in clinical studies from potential harm. Similarly, animal models have been used to study mental disorders and develop drugs to treat major depressive disorders (MDDs) (Kleinert et al., 2018). Some of these studies would be difficult to conduct with human subjects because of the high likelihood of harming people and ethical concerns. This demonstrates that when animal and human subjects were weighed on an ethics scale, the ethical concerns about humans outweigh that of animals. This means that humans are held at a higher moral value than animals, and therefore, the use of humans in experiments is not justifiable if there are animal alternatives. Therefore, animals should be used in experimental studies instead of humans to uphold human dignity particularly when the tests are potential threats to human wellbeing and life.

Animals, such as mice and farm animals, are commonly used for research, and can be availed readily and abundantly, unlike their human equivalents. Mice can be reared and mass-produced in laboratories, considering that they breed fast. Therefore, a laboratory with a mice-breeding program is assured of having a steady supply of study subjects. Similarly, farm animals can be reared abundantly and availed easily for research. In addition, they can be monitored easily during experiments because they are reared in confined spaces from there they can be monitored easily. They are also tame, which facilitates the conduct of research because researchers can work with and on them easily without causing them much distress. A busy researcher is likely to adopt this perspective because he or she would want a constant and assured supply of test subjects to be used in different tests intending to improve human lives.

For instance, Kleinert et al. (2018) affirmed that animal subjects have revealed much information about the physiological processes in humans. They noted that the dog was the first widely used animal that was used in pioneering studies related to gastric secretions, leading to the discovery of insulin. Besides, small rodents, such as mice, have helped discover the contribution of ghrelin and leptin towards the understanding of obesity and diabetes mellitus. Subsequently, they attribute the major advancements in the treatment of obesity and diabetes mellitus to the findings from mammalian models used by researchers to understand systemic glucose metabolism, body fat distribution, nutrient portioning, exercise metabolism, and brain control over metabolic fluxes (Kleinert et al. (2018). Similarly, Hamernik (2019) argued that farm animals were abundant and suitable as animal subjects in biomedical research. She revealed that farm animals, such as cows and pigs were much larger than mice and human beings, and therefore had much blood, which if some was drawn for experimental purposes, would not harm the animals. Besides, they noted that pigs were close to human beings genetically and therefore, studies conducted with pigs yielded results that would be translated to human beings. These sources indicate that animals that can be easily monitored by researchers and reproduced easily are more suitable for biomedical studies compared to human beings, who cannot be rear for research purposes only.    

Altogether, the proponents of using animals in research to improve human lives rely on ethical arguments and reproducibility of animals for experimental purposes. The main argument posited is that humans are more valuable than animals and therefore should not be sacrificed for experimental studies where animals could be used instead. Similarly, animals that can be reproduced and monitored by humans easily are preferable for research purposes instead of human subjects whose replication of experimental purposes would be untenable.

Con Position: Proponents/ Perspectives Against

The use of animals as research subjects presents some challenges, which are inherent in the significant differences between animals and human beings. .

Firstly, the use of animals as research subjects undermines animal rights. Animal rights are violated when they are subjected to cruelty or activities that cannot guarantee their safety or life. The justification of this perspective is that using animals for experimental purposes is cruel to the animal subjects because they should not be let to suffer untold pain and suffering in the hands of adventurous researchers. An animal’s rights activist is likely to take this stance. 

Arnason (2020) notes that the proponents of prohibiting the use of animals in research adopt a near abolitionist stance when they argue that experiments cause the animals much pain and denies them recourse by undermining their self-determination and autonomy. Although this appears as an extreme argument that assumes animals have conscience, its application is pervasive among animal rights activist and has given rise to animal research ethics as an independent discipline. In fact, Arnason (2020) argues that the sentiments against the use of animals in experiments has been adopted in political circles in the European union, for instance, where researcher are required to use alternative methods apart from animal or when unavoidable, use animals of the lowest species possible. They note that the Directive 2010/63/EU, which discourages using great apes in research, has resulted in Europe not conducting any research with them since 1999. The United States followed suit with the national institutes of health phasing out the use of chimpanzees in research, which effectively terminated using great apes in research in the United States. This source demonstrates that animal research, particularly that involving high order species, is increasingly becoming unpopular because the animals undergo untold stress due to their high intelligence.

Secondly, the findings from the research involving animals may not be translatable to human beings. Animals have a different physiology from that of humans. Therefore, some research findings obtained from animals cannot be directly translated to human beings. This stance is likely to be taken by a medical research and drug developer who understand that animals are remarkably different from human beings.

LaFollette and Shanks (2020) argue that the benefits of using animal models in biomedical studies are often exaggerated and to do justify subjecting animals to painful experimentation. This exaggeration has been used to justify the extrapolation of the results from animal studies to human beings. However, LaFollette and Shanks (2020) question this justification and validity from a moral standpoint. They not that some animal studies have produced misleading results and notes that when such findings were used to address human health issues, great danger resulted. They give the example of thalidomide, which was introduced in Britain in 1957 as a wonder drug for treating nausea in pregnant women. Although it succeeded in treating the targeted ailment, it also caused many birth defects in the children born by mothers that had used this drug. The authors reveals that over 8,000 children were born with physical defects and deformations ranging from brain damage to eye defects and deformed lips among many others. Although this calamity prompted the tightening of drug testing and licensing rules, the damage has already been done and could not be reversed (LaFollette & Shanks, 2020).  It was later revealed that the researchers promoting the use of this medication based their safety report on the ability of animal subjects to withstand high doses of thalidomide without any side effects and ill effects.

The opponents of using animals in research cite ethical and inconclusiveness of results as their basis. Their arguments are based on the use of animals unnecessarily in dangerous experiments that torment them and the accidents that have resulted from faulty and incomplete findings about drugs tested on animals.


This discussion posited that animals should be used in research to improve human lives because of the overwhelming evidence of the benefits that human being have derived from the findings of animal research. The proponents of the use of animal subjects cited human dignity and reproducibility of test animals while those against posited the violation of animal rights and the inconclusiveness of findings as the main reasons why animals should not be used in research. However, despite the dilemma presented by the contrasting views, the evidence for the use of animals as research subjects in human studies is more overwhelming that that against. Historically, much has become known about human being and their wellbeing because animals provided the pertinent evidence where human lives would have been endangered.


Arnason, G. (2020). The emergence and development of animal research ethics: A review with a focus on nonhuman primates. Science and Engineering Ethics26(4), 2277-2293.

Czéh, B., & Simon, M. (2021). Benefits of animal models to understand the pathophysiology of depressive disorders. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry106, 110049.

Hamernik, D. L. (2019). Farm animals are important biomedical models. Animal Frontiers9(3), 3-5.

Kleinert, M., Clemmensen, C., Hofmann, S. M., Moore, M. C., Renner, S., Woods, S. C., … & Tschöp, M. H. (2018). Animal models of obesity and diabetes mellitus. Nature Reviews Endocrinology14(3), 140-162.

LaFollette, H., & Shanks, N. (2020). Brute science: Dilemmas of animal experimentation. Routledge.

PETA (2022). Facts and statistics about animal testing. Retrieved from

The Humane Society of the United States (2022). Animals used in experiments FAQ. Retrieved from

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