Animals for scientific research: "If we need to kill animals for research, we should"

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Emma Williams 11SW

GCSE RS Coursework C

“If we need to kill animals for research, we should”

Recent advances in medicine mean that animals are now extensively used in scientific research.  Despite much opposition, scientists continue to use animals to test both drugs and cosmetics.  However, is this ethical?  Should animals be killed in an attempt to save the lives of humans?  There are lots of different viewpoints on this matter, but many people adopt the more general viewpoint of their religion.

Buddhism has a great deal of teachings relating to the environment and the treatment of animals.  The Noble Eightfold Path is a set of guidelines for a Buddhist to follow which should lead to the cessation of suffering (niroda).  Two aspects in particular teach about the treatment of animals: Right Action and Right Livelihood.  Right Action involves following five precepts, the first being ‘not to destroy life’.  Because of this precept, many Buddhists have become vegetarian.  The aim of this is to cultivate compassion and sympathy for everyone – animals as well as other people.  Right Livelihood is a way of putting incorporating this precept into your daily life.  Work should benefit all living beings, so a Buddhist would not choose killing animals as part of their occupation, whether it was for research or not.

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The practice of metta (loving-kindness) towards all creatures is an integral part of Buddhism.  An harmonious, peace-loving belief system would not condone killing animals even if it is for research.  

‘Do not harm others.  Just as you feel affection on seeing a dearly beloved person, so you should extend lovingkindness to all creatures.’ 1

An understanding of kamma helps Buddhists to be more loving towards living creatures.  Ethically significant actions have consequences – for example, killing animals for research could cause a scientist to feel guilty.  This guilt would be the karmic effect of the action. ...

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