The need for an ethical debate on the use of animals

The need for an ethical debate on the use of animals

By Patricia Molina

The use of animals in higher education is a subject of controversy and debate. The discussion includes two aspects: (1) the pedagogical justification, that is, if the option of using animals is didactically the same, less or more effective than doing it without them and, (2) the ethical justification, which tries to answer the question whether it is morally correct to use and / or kill animals for students to learn. Numerous pedagogical studies show that students learn the same, and in many cases, better without using animals,

According to the organization People for Ethics in the Treatment of Animals (peta) (2015), each year in the United States about 20 million animals are killed in school sessions that involve dissection or vivisection. In the rest of the world there are no data, but the practices questioned in the faculties that have a Veterinary degree show the generalization of its use, without any type of regulation or respect for the regulations in force in the country.

Student concern is growing. Is it really necessary to use animals in the laboratory to learn anatomy, physiology, psychology? Is it ethically correct to kill animals to see their digestive system, or to kill frogs to verify the response of their muscles to electricity or to know what their reflexes are, among others, when today there are alternative ways to learn it better?

According to Ortiz Millán, the debate on the use of animals in education has to consider two aspects: 1) the pedagogical justification, that is, if the option of using them is didactically equal, less, or more effective than teaching the same thing without animals; and 2) ethical justification, which tries to answer the question of whether it is ethically correct to use and kill animals for students to learn.

The author maintains that although it has been traditional to use animals to teach, not all traditions are good and less so when it has been proven than with other methods, supported by computer science, it has been proven that it is better to learn, that is, they are more didactically effective , This without taking into account the lower costs of computer-assisted teaching, simulations, high-quality videos and even the use of corpses from an ethical source, such as those who were euthanized for diseases or preserved and the experiences supervised clinics. Among the additional benefits of such practices, the author lists: significant savings in time and costs, greater potential for personalization and for repeatability of the learning exercise, increased confidence and student satisfaction, greater compliance. legislation on the use of animals, removal of objections to the use of animals for educational purposes by students, and better integration of the clinical and ethical perspective into the curriculum.

One of the arguments that the students questioned the teacher is that the use of animals and the manner of their sacrifice had the objective of forming the character of future veterinarians, as insensitive and emotionless professionals in the face of the suffering of animals. Terms such as "extinction", "partial reinforcement" or "negative stimulus" are used as part of the "scientific terminology" to indoctrinate the young student who starts with small animals and progressively increases the use of live animals, teaching him that the lives of animals are not important and generating a lack of sensitivity and empathy towards animals, as if this were a guarantee of professionalism.

As Birke, Arluke and Michael (quoted by Ortiz) state:

[…] They are learning much more than anatomy and proper techniques, they are subtly learning the underlying beliefs of science, which condones the literal cutting of the body that is dissected (epitome of scientific reductionism). […] Young students are confronting something they tend to find morally disgusting at an age when they are developing their sense of identity and moral character, yet they are not yet able to resist authority figures (Birke et al., 2007: 80)

“The sciences and their practice are not completely free of interests and values, as positivists once thought (the critique of the myth of the axiological purity of science was carried out by Habermas [1982] in his book Knowledge and interest, as well as various sociologists of science). In learning science, moral values ​​are also implicitly learned. "

The lack of sensitivity and empathy with animals can lead to the same situation with humans, there is a latent social need to take a leap and leave these orthodox practices and be proactive not simply in the scientific application or an already structured educational curriculum. The reason for the need for new professionals complying with all its precepts that advocate Ethics and Morals in the healing, prevention and treatment of animals with a balanced management respecting Life in all its forms ... The answer is these future professionals who they should be agents of change according to the evolution of society as a whole.

Gustavo Ortiz Millán. Victims of education. Ethics and the use of animals in higher education. High School magazine. Volume. January March.
Madeleyne Aguilar. September 21, 2016. Due to complaints, animal euthanasia practices are suspended. Page Seven.
Lourdes Aruquipa. QANASA. Personal communication.

Environmental News Service

Video: The Role of Scientists in the Debate About Animal Welfare (June 2021).