THINK ABOUT IT?
- In a 1989 survey, 80% of the American public agreed that animals have rights. In the same survey, however, 85% agreed that animals may be killed and eaten by humans. Based on the results of this survey, how do you think the public defines "animal rights"?
- Would you evaluate the morality of an action strictly in terms of its consequences? For example, is an action always right if it produces the greatest good for the greatest number?
- If rights are based on characteristics such as intelligence, are people with mental disabilities less deserving of rights than other people?
- Current evidence suggests that insects probably do not experience pain. An insect's reaction to an aversive stimulus is argued to be simply a reflex response. Where possible, should insects be used to replace mammals and other animals in painful experiments?
- Consider other distinctions that are drawn between human and nonhuman animals: the capacity for language, culture, self-image, the ability to anticipate future events based on past experiences, and altruism (unselfish concern for the welfare of others). Recent studies and observations of whales, chimpanzees, and many other species have blurred some of the lines that distinguish animals from humans. Can you cite any examples of recent discoveries that point to similarities between people and animals?
- Would you be willing to pay more for a product that has not been tested on animals? Why or why not?
- Why do you suppose fewer Americans support the use of animals in tests of over-the-counter medicines, such as aspirin, than in tests of prescription drugs?
- Saying that animals have rights is not necessarily the same as saying that animals and humans have equal rights. For example, most Americans would defend humans' reproductive rights and disagree with mandatory sterilization as a way of controlling our population. On the other hand, many of the same people would advocate spaying or neutering of cats and dogs as morally right. Can you think of other examples that illustrate different legal or moral rights for humans and animals?
- Do you believe that companies that do not test on animals have a greater, lesser, or equal obligation to devote time and resources to developing alternatives as companies that continue animal testing?
- If a dog barks his head off in the forest and no human hears him, is he still a bad dog?