Friday, May 8, 2015

Who Would You Rather See Live?

     Billboards supporting animal testing have appeared on the streets in Baltimore, Maryland. The billboard is simply a picture of a young girl and a mouse with the words "Who Would You Rather See Live?" Immediately, most people would choose the little girl but upon further investigation, one realizes that the billboard was put there by the Foundation of Biomedical Research in order to promote animal testing. It's a simple phrase, but one begins to wonder why the answer to the question can't be 'both'. A spokesperson for the foundation defended the billboards saying "For new discoveries to happen, you have to discover them in a living system." The vice provost of research at Johns Hopkins University, where a great deal of medical animal testing is done, stated "The work we're doing will save people around the world and in Baltimore...We don't suffer diseases that we would have suffered absent animal research." The argument that they both bring is that animal suffering is okay, as long as it is being done for the greater good - the greater good in this case being the health of humans.
     The animals used in medical testing, just in Johns Hopkins alone, amounts to thousands in just one year. They have 30,000 cages of mice alone. In addition to mice, they also use zebra fish, dogs, rabbits, pigs and monkeys. None of these animals have any kind of bodily autonomy. Even in the video, we can hear one of the mice screeching while a researcher is handling them. Although they cannot speak for themselves in a language we understand, I believe that by the sounds and expressions they are making, one can definitely tell if they are experiencing discomfort or pain. This would go against what Descartes believed, which was that since animals cannot speak up for themselves, that makes us superior to them. This can be seen in his letters of 1646 and 1649 where he says, "All men use it [speech], however stupid and insane they may be, and though they may lack tongue and organs of voice; but no animals do. Consequently it can be taken as a real specific difference between men and dumb animals."  Had Descartes been alive today, he would have definitely sided with the Foundation of Biomedical Research and the researchers at Johns Hopkins.

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