Topic #1: Regan v. Cohen on Animal Rights & Animal Testing in Biomedical Research
In this paper, I will summarize Regan’s view supporting animal rights. Then I will contrast it against Cohen’s stance against the inclusion of animals in the moral sphere which would end animal testing in biomedical research. Finally, I will explain how I believe Regan would defend himself against Cohen’s objections.
Regan states that animals should have rights, and claims that the system of animal exploitation is fundamentally wrong because of our treatment of animals as resources for humans. (Regan 1) He argues that animals are intrinsically valuable because of their subjective experience of life, which puts them on the same level as humans. (Regan 6) Therefore,…show more content… Utilitarianism is a philosophy that believes that an action is morally correct if it promotes pleasure and morally incorrect if it promotes pain. Utilitarianism is categorized as a consequentialist philosophy, meaning that the morality of an act is dependent on its consequences. Cohen states that there would be widespread suffering without animal testing because it would be substituted with in vitro experimentation, computer programs, and other options. (Cohen 97-98) Due to the less reliable nature of these substitutes, fewer drugs and surgeries would be approved for general use. Thus, less of the public would have their suffering cured or lessened by medical progress. Cohen also extends the time frame to include all future suffering in its many forms by discussing the improved quality of life and end of many diseases which were made possible by animal testing. (Cohen 98) Essentially, he is making the point that the suffering of a handful of lab rats now would prevent a great deal of human suffering for years to…show more content… Cohen bases humanity’s higher moral standing on moral capabilities. (Cohen 97) However, I believe that Regan attacks this kind of speciesist thinking when he notes that regardless of what skill distinguishes humans from animals, there will always be humans who are lacking in these areas. Furthermore, this difference justifies the belief that humans lacking in these areas are less valuable, so much so that they are equal to animals. (Regan 7) So, because Cohen sees moral capacity as the quality that makes humans better than animals, then a morally incompetent person is equal to an animal. Then, because this kind of person is equal to an animal in this sense, Cohen should be comfortable making these deficient people the subjects for experiments. Sociopaths lack emotional capacity especially in interpersonal relations, which could be tied to moral capacity. If this were proven that sociopaths could be made into human guinea pigs. This would help to refute Cohen’s other assertions supporting animal testing because he claims that animal subjects are more expensive. (Cohen 99) Human subjects would be less expensive, potentially providing resources for other studies that could save even more lives. This practice would also fulfill utilitarian standards because the suffering of a few sociopaths would pale in comparison to the saving of many