Theidea of ethical practice is quite controversial, given that peoplecan use different theories to arrive at dissimilar conclusionsregarding the morality of their actions. However, these theories canbe used to resolve dilemmas and make decisions regardingcontroversial issues (Marques 2). In this paper, the theories ofdeontology and utilitarianism will be used to determine whetherscientific experiments, factory, and organic farming are morallypermissible practices. The paper will also address the issue ofwhether animals have rights or not.
Anydebate that focuses on the use of animals for the benefit of humanbeings is based on an argument of whether they have rights or not.There are two key factors suggesting that animals have some rightsthat need to be considered when exploiting them to address the needsof human beings. First, animals have been proven to be sentient,which implies that they are able to detect when they are exposed toan unsuitable environment and respond to that kind of treatment(Fennell 159). Secondly, animals, similar to human beings, have thecapacity to feel pain, frustration, and fear. The ability to developthese feelings suggests that subjecting the animals to unfairtreatment is immoral. Based on the two factors, human beings(including the farmers and researchers) should treat animals fairly.However, the term “fair treatment” does not imply that they haveequal rights as the human beings. Instead, their rights should begiven an equal consideration.
HowAnimals Should Be Treated: Deontological Theory
Thetheory of deontology is used to judge the morality of actions on thebasis of the duty or the obligation of a person making a decision.The consequences that might arise from those actions are irrelevant.The use of the theory of deontology to address the application ofanimals in scientific research and factory farming leads to argumentthat all these practices should be abolished since human beings havea duty to respect the inherent value and life in general (Fennell159). However, deontologists support organic farming. Scholars (suchas Tom Regan) based their deontological argument on the concept of“subjects-of-a-life”. This concept implies that all things thathave a life also have an inherent worth that should be respected.
Scientificexperiments are carried out with good intentions, but the fact thatanimals are subjected to cruelty motivates deontologists to arguethat they should be abolished. For example, animals used in theseexperiments are often put in small cages, subjected to controlledconditions, injected with chemical, infected with pathogens, andkilled (Fennell 161). These forms of maltreatment demonstrate afailure on the part of scientists to respect the life that has aninherent value.
Similarly,factory farming is a practice that is associated with rearing of alarge number of animals within a small piece of land, with theobjective of maximizing profits. This practice results incannibalization, accumulate of waste, and stress (Fennell 159). Acombination of these factors subjects animals to the risk ofsuffering from various diseases that may lead to their death.Therefore, factory farming violates the rights of animals to betreated fairly by failing to acknowledge the fact that they aresentient.
Onthe contrary, organic farming is supported by the basic principle ofthe theory of deontology. Deontologists hold that organic farmingprovides the best standards for animal welfare. For example, organicfarming does not involve the use of antibiotics, which help theanimals to grow under natural conditions (Soil Association 1).Farmers who use this practice demonstrate that they respect thewelfare as well as the life of animals, which is their obligation.
HowAnimals Should Be Treated: Utilitarianism
Boththe social and act utilitarian theories would support application ofanimals in scientific tests, factory, and organic farming practices.Utilitarianism is founded on the notion that all actions or decisionstaken by an individual should seek to maximize the net happiness orthe utility of the majority. In other words, an action or a rule canonly be considered to be morally right if it is classified as analternative with maximum utility compared to other available options(Marques 2). Rule utilitarianism holds that an action is permissiblewhen it conforms to a rule whose consequence can be the greatestgood. Act utilitarianism considers the consequences of a singleaction that is only classified as being morally permissible if itmaximizes the wellbeing of the majority of the affected stakeholders.
Theapplication of these perspectives indicates that the animal testingmaximizes the well-being of most of the affected stakeholders. Forexample, over 90 % of the drugs used in the treatment of humandiseases across the world were discovered through scientific teststhat involves the use of animals (Badyal 3). This is a sufficientproof that scientific experiments have prevented epidemics and savedthe lives of millions of people. Therefore, it can be argued thatscientific tests maximize the well-being of most of the stakeholders.It can also be stated that the use of scientific experiments toaddress human problems is a rule that will always maximize thehappiness of the society.
Similarly,factory farming maximizes the well-being of most of the stakeholders.This practice help farmers use small pieces of land to rear a largenumber of animals, which enable them to maximize their profits. Inaddition, the practice increases agricultural productivity, whichenhances food security. Therefore, factory farming benefits themajority of the members of the society. Under the utilitarianisms, itcan be argues that factory farming is a morally acceptable practice.
Organicfarming also benefits the majority of the members of the society byprotecting them from consumption of food products with chemicals aswell as antibiotics that could harm them. In addition, organicfarming enhances the well-being of other groups of stakeholders,including the animal rights activists. Although this practice isquite expensive and it reduces agricultural productivity that maydisplease farmers, it is evident that it enhances the happiness ofmost of the stakeholders. Therefore, it is morally acceptable. Thesocial and act utilitarianism support scientific experiments,factory, and organic farming.
HowI Think about the Issue and My Beliefs Borne out by Ethical Theories
Scientificexperiments, factory, and organic farming practices are morallypermissible because they maximize the well-being of the majority ofthe members of the society. Although I am guided by the theory ofutilitarianism, I believe that these practices should be conducted inways that minimize the suffering and pain to animals. Therefore, thefact that they are permissible does not imply that animals have norights. My beliefs are in line with the utilitarianism perspective asopposed to the deontological theory.
Thedeontological theory leads to an argument that scientific experimentsand factory farming should be banned while organic agriculture shouldbe upheld. The two practices are inconsistent with the deontologicaltheory because they demonstrate that scientists and farmers fail toobserve the duty of protecting the life that has an inherent value.The use of the utilitarianism perspective leads to a conclusion thatthe three practices (including scientific experiments, factory, andorganic farming) enhance the well-being of the majority of theaffected stakeholders. This makes all of them morally permissible.Therefore, animals have rights, but they can be exploited when it isproven that their use will have maximum utility.
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Fennell,A. “Tourism and animal rights”. TourismRecreation Research37.2 (2012):157-166. Print.
Marques,J. “Universalism and utilitarianism: An evaluation of two popularmoral theories in business decision making”. TheJournal of Values-Based Leadership8.2 (2015): 1-12. Print.
SoilAssociation. Better for animals. SoilAssociation.2016. Web. 3 November 2016.