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Scientific and Ethical Justification for Using Animals in Research

Using animals in research requires that some conditions be met. The procedures involving animals must be designed and performed with due consideration of their relevance to human or animal health, the advancement of knowledge, or the good of society. The animals selected for a procedure should be of an appropriate species and quality and the minimum number required to obtain valid results. And the proper use of animals, including the avoidance or minimization of discomfort, distress, and pain when consistent with sound scientific practices, is imperative. The view that we, as human beings, have the right to make these decisions, is based on various philosophical arguments.

Scientific Justification

For research based on an animal model, the validity of the science is the model. It is dependent upon the extent that the experimental findings in the animal model can be generalized to other species, in particular, human beings.

Ethical Justification

Ethical justification of animal research is, in some ways, more difficult than the scientific justification as an individual’s personal beliefs can affect the way they may view the research. It can converge with the scientific justification and can, in some ways, depend on it. It boils down to the following: is the ethical cost of the research (the pain of the animals, the ultimate death of the animals) either balanced or outweighed by the potential value of the research to human or animal health, the advancement of knowledge, or the good of society?