A group of students in my Philosophy and Public Issues class just gave a presentation on the moral status of animals, focusing on medical and other forms of testing. There are obviously countless resources available online. Here's a piece worth checking out. Of note, especially given our discussion in class, is the following passage:
"Moreover, it is argued, the lives of all creatures, great and small, have value and are worthy of respect. This right to be treated with respect does not depend on an ability to reason. An insane person has a right to be treated with respect, yet he or she may not be able to act rationally. Nor does a right to be treated with respect rest on being a member of a certain species. Restricting respect for life to a certain species is to perform an injustice similar to racism or sexism. Like the racist who holds that respect for other races does not count as much as respect for his or her own race, those who support painful experimentation on animals assume that respect for other species does not count as much as respect for members of his or her own species. "Speciesism" is as arbitrarily unjust as racism or sexism. The right to be treated with respect rests, rather, on a creature's being a "subject of a life," with certain experiences, preferences, and interests. Animals, like humans, are subjects of a life. Justice demands that the interests of animals be respected, which includes respect for their interest to be spared undeserved pain."
I wonder what readers of this blog think of this argument and how far the conclusion extends. As was brought up in class discussion, it seems that there are some cases of causing suffering that are morally permissible. Indeed, it may be morally obligatory to torture an organism if doing so were to produce a great deal of good or prevent a great deal of bad. So what conclusion should we draw about whether it's morally permissible to engage in animal testing/the sorts of experiments that are morally acceptable?