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Formal Debate #1 - Animal Experimentation (Ischaramoochie vs. Jaywalker)

IscharamoochieIscharamoochie Moderator PEx Veteran ⭐⭐
(This thread is exclusively for the debaters. Discussions may be carried out in peanut gallery threads.)

Topic: A Debate on the motion that "Animal experimentation is justifiable"

Format: British Parliamentary
1. Prime Minister
2. Opposition Leader
3. Deputy Prime Minister
4. Deputy Opposition Leader
5. Member of the Government
6. Member of the Opposition
7. Government Whip
8. Opposition Whip

Ischaramoochie (Affirmative) - Prime Minister / Deputy Prime Minister / Member / Whip
Jaywalker (Negative) - Opposition Leader / Deputy Opposition Leader / Member / Whip


  • IscharamoochieIscharamoochie Moderator PEx Veteran ⭐⭐
    (Prime Minister Speech)

    Holiday Greetings to all...

    As this would be my first formal online debate, I hope that it would be both entertaining and informative to all those concerned. For this debate, I would argue in favor of the affirmative side on the motion that "Animal experimentation is justifiable," and would like to request for you to bear with me for the duration of this essay.

    The position of the affirmative side is that we agree with the motion that animal experimentation is justifiable, and our proposition is that some forms of animal experimentation can be justified given certain considerations.

    First of all, as Prime Minister and first speaker, I would like to invoke my right to set the scope and limits of the debate, as well as to establish the framework to be used, and definitions of terms. Should the leader of the opposition choose to challenge these, he may do so at his own risk. That being said, I would like to restrict this debate to experimentation on either endangered or overpopulated species of animals. The reason for this is that aside from it being too broad, the issue of experimentation with "regular" animals has very little impact on society. On the other hand, experimentation on endangered and overpopulated species is of relatively great importance, especially considering the framework, which would be given shortly.

    By animal experimentation, we mean the practice of scientifically collecting information about animals, which could be put to practical use. Animal experiments should be regulated and should not impose unnecessary suffering on the part of the subjects involved.

    The framework I would like to use is a utilitarian cost-benefit assessment of the issue. The reason for this is that not only is it objective, it also allows us to quantify and thus more effectively evaluate the issue using mostly reason and logic, instead of the subjective information given by ethical sentiments. I would like to define the term “justifiable” as that which is capable of giving more benefits than detriments.

    I would like this post to focus on the benefits of experimentation with the above limits, and my next post to be about the detriments of not pushing through with such endeavors.

    All experimentation involves risks. Generally, the degree of risk in a justifiable experiment is proportional but slightly lower than the potential benefit which a successful result may give. I would argue that the experiments just mentioned fall under this category for the following reasons:

    Firstly, experimentation on animals may yield discoveries as to how endangered species may be preserved. It may be true that individual specimens from some species would have to be sacrificed, but the knowledge which would be gained from them would be able to contribute to our knowledge of how to preserve their entire species. It is perfectly reasonable to sacrifice several lambs for the salvation of the entire flock, and it would be folly not to take this option especially when the necessity arises. It is better to have tried and failed than to ensure failure from never having tried at all.

    Second, experimentation on animals may also provide us with the most effective and humane ways of exterminating particular overpopulated species which we consider as pests, since we could be able to get enough information to produce and synthesize either chemicals or pathogens to target them specifically and kill them instantly with as little suffering as possible. This also means that we would be able to have more control and ability to cultivate beneficial species while inhibiting harmful ones. Of course, some other species might be affected negatively in the process, but the first argument all but ensures that this would be taken care of over time.

    Both these arguments tell us of immense benefits with relatively lower risks. It is these kinds of animal experimentations which we argue to be justifiable. The affirmative side concedes that there are some forms of experimentation which are unjustified and unjustifiable, but it makes little sense to ban the practice of animal experimentation altogether. If we do so, not only would we fail to reap the potential benefits which have just been mentioned, we would also aggravate some of our current problems, as would be shown in my next post. Since we need to urgently solve our ecological problems, and experimentation on animals is the fastest and most beneficial way we have, we should allow it to push through – some instances of it, at least.
  • faaip_de_oiadfaaip_de_oiad PEX GOD PExer
    Hear hear!

    Where the hell is Jaywalker?! :lol: Excellent setup. I can already see an impending IscharamoochieOWNAGE. :D
  • JaywalkerJaywalker quantum cat PEx Veteran ⭐⭐
    Greetings. I would first like to remind readers that this is a formal debate and I’m defending the position I was given (animal experimentation cannot be justified) which may or may not exactly be my real position on the matter.

    I would first like to highlight a few things about the speaker for the affirmative side’s position

    My opponent draws no line on which animals should be eligible for experimentation. He didn’t say that animals, which exhibit significant cognitive abilities, should be exempt from experimentation. I take it then that his position is that all species of non-human animals may be considered. Since a lot of higher apes are endangered, I would surmise that they are covered by the debate and that the proposition considers experimentation on them to be acceptable if the experiment satisfies the conditions he outlined

    From his opening remarks, it would also seem that the proposition considers the death of the subject of the experiment to be acceptable if it would further the cause of its own species. I’m not sure what his position would be if the death of the animal would serve human interests instead. Regardless, he seems to hold that sacrificing one or a few for the sake of the many is justifiable.

    He used the word “necessary suffering” It is unclear though where he would draw the line between what is necessary and what isn’t. Unless the object of the experiment itself is for the subject to achieve instantaneous death then most experiments leading to the death of the subject would most likely involve some amount of suffering whether physical or psychological. But I won’t attack the issue on the basis of suffering, at least right now, as that is a bit vague and difficult to quantify. I would like to focus first on what the proposition is obviously suggesting. Sacrificing a few lives is justifiable if it would save many more.

    The question of whether it is justifiable to sacrifice a few for the benefit of the collective is an issue that is morally complex. For most people, there is a huge moral difference between taking an active and a passive role in the “sacrifice”. In most cases, most people would consider it morally acceptable to allow one person to die if his death would save more lives. The same people would probably consider it considerably less moral (if not totally objectionable) to intentionally kill an innocent person to save many more.

    He should correct me if I’m wrong but I’m reasonably sure that the proposition would not agree with forced experimentation on a few humans (whether the experiments lead to death or not) even if the result of those experiments could save the lives of millions. Yet he considers it acceptable to sacrifice a few non-human lives for the benefit of the majority. People’s position on the matter seems too universal but the rationale is a little vague. It almost seems instinctual preservation of one’s own. It would be hard to argue on the basis of biological instincts so I think the underlying logic needs to be explored. I would like to explore the reason why the proposition considers it acceptable on animals and not on humans, if that is the case. I’m not yet saying that humans and non-human organisms should be treated equally I would just like to know first what the proposition’s rationale is for his position.

    We afford human rights to anything alive that biologically satisfies the specifications for humanity. What exactly are those specifications and which of those specifications make our lives more valuable than that of any animal?

    Is it man’s intellectual superiority that affords him “human rights”? Surely the intellectual capacity of an encephalic child is less than that of a normal chimp yet encephalic children are given rights. The same may be said of severely mentally handicapped people. Studies on animals have led us to gain some insight into their intellectual and emotional capacities. Even some species, distantly related to us, like some species of birds or marine mammals, have shown remarkable intellectual feats. Psychological tests postulate that chimps may have the intellectual capacity of young children. I’m not sure what the proposition’s position on the experimentation of encephalic children is but I’m sure he would not agree with forcefully terminating the lives of a few young fully developed children through experimentation even if it would lead to the total eradication of AIDS and cancer

    One may argue that most animals would suffer a tragic death anyway but that same argument may be used against people in death row or people with terminal disease. On the surface, the benefit we may gain from experimenting on one human in death row should be much higher than experimentation on a few primates. But below the surface, do we pay an unseen price for it?
    The proposition mentioned something about cost-benefit ratios. Cost-benefit measurements are good when you’re trying to assess the profitability of the new business you’re putting up. When the issue crosses significant moral boundaries like the termination of another life, the potential gains must be weighed with extreme caution. The potential costs may be slightly subjective but they’re too intrinsic to what makes us human to be brushed aside. In a purely logical society, a lot of very “wrong” acts can be justified

    Morality is subjective. One cannot win a debate by plainly saying that something is immoral. That is not what I’m trying to do here. I’m assuming that the proposition has a moral position on the experimentation of humans. I’m trying to relate that moral position to his position on animals. As you may also have noticed I made a lot of assumptions here as to the moral position of the opposing side. That is to highlight the fact that although morality may be subjective, the topic traverses on some moral issues where our positions are more or less universal.

    I’m sure the proposition respects all forms of life but if he believes that purposely terminating the life of one animal to save more lives is justified and he doesn’t hold the same position on members of his own species then discriminatory logic may be at play here. “They’re not as valuable as us because they’re not like us”
  • IscharamoochieIscharamoochie Moderator PEx Veteran ⭐⭐
    (Deputy Prime Minister Speech)

    Greetings to all. First of all, I would like to thank my worthy opponent for replying and highlighting the points in my essay which he perceived as wanting. Before I go on to my second case, I would first like to briefly restate my initial position and why, in my humble opinion, my opponent has failed to address its pertinent points and provide a direct clash which is central to any debate.

    The initial speech of the government side provided a virtually airtight setup. It tried to define animal experimentation as a process of gathering information about animals including, but not limited to physiological procedures. Moreover, it tried to focus the discussion on experimentation with endangered and overpopulated species, while at the same time setting a standard that that no unnecessary harm should be brought upon the subjects. The proposition of the government side is simply that if these criteria are met, then it is possible to find with circumstances in which animal experimentation would be justified.

    From the above statements, it should have been apparent that the term "unnecessary suffering" simply denotes an amount of suffering whose absence in an experiment would not cause a significant effect on the actual results of that experiment. For instance, if we are trying to determine the lethal dosage of a particular chemical for an animal, and it is possible to a introduce a sedative or anesthetic which would prevent the sensation of pain without confounding the results of the experiment, the absence of this latter procedure would result in what we call "unnecessary suffering" on the part of the subject, and would thus make the experiment unjustified; and the presence of this procedure would be a step in making the experiment justifiable since it tries to minimize if not totally eliminate the suffering on the part of the subject.

    My opponent has neither explicitly challenged the set standards, nor provided any compelling arguments to refute those from the opening government speech. Apparently, what he did was simply pose the question on whether it is truly justifiable to actively take a life in order to save numerous other lives, and proceed to argue from there. There is no direct clash of arguments. This is not so much a problem on argumentation as it is on technicalities. By not challenging the set standards, it is assumed that he is willing to proceed from a utilitarian assessment, and that entails the assumption that it is acceptable to take a life if it entails the preservation of several others. In any case, I would like to present an "even-if" rebuttal to his case:

    Granted it is not morally acceptable for us humans to sacrifice one human being for the preservation of many others (I use the term "preservation" over "salvation" to avoid religious undertones); this does not mean that the same moral principle should apply to other species. The arguments of my opponent seem to rest on a weak analogy between humans and animals. The concept of rights may apply to other entities (again preference for the term "entities" as opposed to "creatures"), but de facto personhood applies solely to human beings as per status quo. Persons are protected by rights against being used as means to an end, but non-persons are not entitled to these rights. It is for this reason that even the dissecting of human cadavers is an acceptable medical practice - when a human being dies, what disappears is personhood and not humanity.

    Human beings are fundamentally different from non-human animals. This alone would constitute grounds for uneven treatment. However, we do share something in common with animals – the drive for self-preservation. If it were possible to save our life or the life of somebody close to us in exchange for the life of someone relatively unknown, humans, by virtue of this drive, would most probably consider the above situation as good enough to accept. We see humans killing each other for the sake of self-defense, robbing and murdering each other for self-subsistence, and buying each other’s organs for self-preservation. Is it really a fact that we consider it unjustified to sacrifice an individual if it would mean preservation of the rest of humanity, including ourselves? Reality seems to answer in the negative.

    Lastly, my opponent seems to forget that along with endangered species, the government side has put forward the proposition that we should also experiment with overpopulated species whose numbers we seek to control. Since the aim of the research in this aspect is in fact the most effective way of causing death. Killing subjects here would pose no real ethical issue. If at all, causing the death of the subjects is a step toward the right direction. Even if he does succeed in arguing against experimentation on endangered species, he does not show anything objectionable about experimenting on overpopulated ones.

    And now onto my case…

    As had been mentioned in the opening essay of the government side, my case would be about the detriments of not pushing through with research based on animal experimentation.

    The government side, along with believing that animal experimentation gives numerous benefits, likewise believes that not pushing through with this endeavor would not only deny us urgently needed solutions to the problems of preserving endangered species and controlling overpopulated ones, but also the chance to discover useful and more detailed information about how a species relates to its ecosystem.

    Endangered species may vanish very soon if we do not act fast enough. Without proper knowledge, we would not know whether or not we are actually causing the species to be endangered. Experimentation on such species would allow us to extract information vital to the understanding of how to preserve it by changing, if possible, how we relate to it. We need to get this information as soon as possible because if we do not, then the species might go extinct and long-term efforts to preserve it would go to waste.

    On the other hand, overpopulated species pose problems for our agriculture and the ecosystem of a particular area. Without experimenting on these species, they may in fact cause other species to become extinct by competing for food and territory. As with the above example, waiting for a long term solution may take too much time, and the result of which could end up in an ecological disaster.

    Lastly, based from the above, experimentation would help us understand the relationship between a species and its ecosystem. With this knowledge we could develop sustainable means of interacting with the environment thus, avoiding much conflict resulting in either extinction or overpopulation. For all we know, the problem we have with these species is that we did not understand them enough before. Had we possessed the necessary knowledge then, it is possible that we would not be facing these problems today in the first place. If we unconditionally prohibit animal experimentation, we could simply be repeating the same mistake which put us in the predicament we are in now.

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