When Discussing Ethics, We Consider The Negative And Positive

1360 WordsApr 27, 20176 Pages
When discussing ethics, we consider the negative and positive effects certain moral lifestyles may have on human individuals, human societies, and on humanity as a whole. We debate whether or not we should act in the interest of our personal good, or on the good of others who may or may not be affected at all. Ethicists seek to identify the path which grants humanity a way to use our free will of choice so that, as a result, we suffer the least amount of consequences, or no consequences at all. Some debates seem more clear-cut than others, but when we begin to consider nonhuman individuals, the more complicated a previously simple debate becomes. For example, most people agree on the immorality of forced human testing, but many do not…show more content…
An important component of Immanuel Kant’s ethics actually focuses on defining moral duties, where one such definition calls for respecting the autonomy of human beings. He writes, “Act in such a way that you treat humanity… always at the same time as an end and never simply as a means” (Kant 429-22). For clarification, he describes autonomy as a characteristic resulting from our free will that allows us to pursue our own ends (“Animal Rights”). By this definition, animals have no free will; they blindly follow their instincts and desires, never faced with choosing between their thoughts and those of others. Without free will, animals also have no autonomy, and therefore humans have no duty to respect them in the same way they respect other humans (“Animal Rights”). However, Kantian ethics does not condone senseless cruelty towards animals, either. Reasonably, someone who can act cruelly towards animals has the capability to act the same towards humans. We have indirect duties to animals, but only as far as those which affect our moral duties to humanity (“Animal Rights”). Overall, these principles indicate that animal testing may be justified as long as humans may benefit from it; even if the scientists conducting these tests may be negatively affected by whatever cruelty may ensue, the human benefits outweigh the human harms. Despite lacking autonomy, however, animals still experience both pleasure and suffering.
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