This holds true even for utilitarian moral theories, which deﬁne the right action as that which best maximizes beneﬁts over harms among available alternatives.
In theory, classical utilitarianism could allow for significant harms to be perpetrated upon some humans in research, if doing so produced a larger compensating beneﬁt to society that was otherwise unattainable.
Some “equal moral consideration” (EC) views might judge all nontrivially harmful animal research to be indefensible, except perhaps in the most extreme and urgent circumstances.
“Unequal moral consideration” (UC) and utilitarian views would permit some harmful animal research, but with signiﬁcant restrictions and qualiﬁcations that go far beyond the status quo.
While some progress has been made in developing alternatives to live animal use in scientiﬁc research, members of the biomedical community often assert that animal research is both responsible for most past medical progress and equally necessary for future progress (see, e.g., Knight 2011, p. Animal research raises ethical concern principally because of the harm it usually causes to animals.
While strict regulations in most (if not all) countries protect human participants in research from signiﬁcant risk or harm – especially as concerns research not directly beneﬁting the participant – regulations governing animal research are much more permissive by comparison.Thus the moral legitimacy of harmful animal research cannot simply be taken for granted: if harms to animals are thought to be more permissible than harms to humans, some compelling reason(s) must be provided to substantiate this judgment.De Grazia (2002) has helpfully delineated three categories of harm to animals that apply across many types of animal use, including research.While the fundamental ethical issues arising in animal research are the same regardless of the country in which it is performed, considering such research in the global context does highlight a few speciﬁc ethical issues concerning its practice and regulation.For clariﬁcation, “research” and “experimentation” will be used interchangeably in this entry, as will “moral” and “ethical.” Because an individual must be conscious in order to have morally relevant interests (i.e., to care about what happens to it) (Singer 2002), this analysis will focus on research using sentient (i.e., conscious) nonhuman animals, which would include almost all animal species used in research.However, the fact that sentient animals have interests means that they are plausible candidates to be covered by a principle of nonmaleﬁcence; what we do to animals matters to them.The general importance of nonmaleﬁcence in morality, coupled with the fact that research often harms animals, entails that such research requires justiﬁcation; it establishes animal research as a moral issue requiring discussion.The moral relevance of harm to animals in research derives from the relevance of harm to morality more generally.Essentially all ethical theories, as well as common morality, embrace a principle of nonmaleﬁcence, which holds that we ought not to harm others (harm being generally deﬁned as setting back another’s interests or making them worse off).Today, at least 100 million animals are used in research each year worldwide, though this might represent a signiﬁcant underestimate.A review of published statistics indicates that much important information about the nature of animal use in research is unavailable, and this itself is a signiﬁcant ethical problem.