There is a lot we just don’t know. Some things will be discovered and others will forever remain a mystery. For example, we know for a fact that certain species of animals can experience both pain and pleasure. We know that some also have strong parental instincts. However, to the best of our knowledge, we believe even the most “advanced” animals do not have a “moral system.” This means that animals do not debate their decisions in terms of right or wrong, but rather in terms of immediate and long-term survival. Since animals are said to be amoral, does that means humans are given free rein to deal with them immorally? When it comes to animal rights, I do not think it is wise to agree completely with either Singer or Cohen. Animal testing has certainly yielded positive benefits – some of which could be considered trivial and others which are seen as giant steps in medicine and science. One example can be seen in mining. It used to be common practice to bring a canary into the mine to detect the presence of deadly gasses. One bird would be unwillingly sacrificed to save the lives of several miners, so they could continue to harvest coal and other precious minerals. In this instance it is easy to see how the trivial interests of man can impose on the well-being of individual animals. However, I do not believe that cancer research is trivial, and if medical advancement requires the use of lab-rats, then so be it. As long as the animals are being handled by professionals, living in comfortable conditions, and measurable results are being achieved, there should be little to worry about. The biggest issue (one that I certainly do not have a definite answer for) is deciding which experiments are worthy of animal testing. Is shampoo testing as important as medical research? Why aren’t humans being used more frequently as test subjects if the products are intended for humans anyways?
Ultimately, I agree with Polyface Farm’s belief that the negative (or positive) manner in which humans deal with agriculture is a fairly decent indicator for how we as humans treat each other. Developmental psychologists can determine a lot about the temperance of a child simply from the way they play and interact with toys behind closed doors. Following this train of logic, children and professional scientists can be viewed in a similar manner. A society which performs a large number of cruel animal trials will likely also care less about environmental and humanitarian policies. Likewise, there is a good chance that a population which uses animal experimentation is careful moderation and treats the subjects with dignity will likely have a sound environmental policy, and treat other humans with an even higher respect.