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Thread: Are you an abolitionist or a welfarist?

  1. #201
    Pea-utiful... Peabrain's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are you an abolitionist or a welfarist?

    My thoughts on animal testing in relation to abolition of animal exploitation are this:

    Much like others have said, testing medicines/medical procedures on animals is not generally a good model for finding out how such medicines/procedures would benefit human beings. Therefore I'm very much in support of human testing in the form of;

    a) people with good mental capability (which, I think might be what fiver was saying) voluteering to be a part of trials etc. (I have done this myself in the past), and;

    b) with the use of deceased human bodies. I have been a registered organ donor since the age of 17, and regularly update my contact details with them, and so my organs are not available for medical science, but I am still able to donate my brain to medical science and will be doing so. Then there's;

    c) using human stem cell research and similar approaches which do not mean hurting any sentient being, human or non-human.

    The Dr Hadwen Trust works towards ending animal research for human medicine, you can read a bit more here: http://www.drhadwentrust.org/

    However, though I don't support future animal testing, the fact that some of the medicines I take were developed using animal testing in the past is not something I can change, and of course, better to have a healthy and live vegan who can promote animal testing alternatives, than a very sick or, even a dead one whose opinion will not be heard (cue the "as far as practical and possible" part of the Vegan Society's definition of veganism).

    As for cosmetics, or extended use medicines (such as, for example, a painkiller which works perfectly well as it is, being changed in some non-essential way), of course, there is absolutely NO NEED for animal testing and I'd be willing to bet all here feel that way.

  2. #202
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    Default Re: Are you an abolitionist or a welfarist?

    Drugs that have been tested on animals are in the top five killers of the western world, these aren't heroin, or cocaine or any of the illegal ones, they are bona fide drugs administered by doctors and hospitals and taken according to manufacturers and professionals instructions, not misused or taken recklessly. They cause reactions, allergies, and side effects that kill thousands and thousands a year. These were all tested on animals....... and then tested on humans and all withdrawn because of problems in humans http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_withdrawn_drugs testing on animals is in no way indicative of how a drug reacts in humans."
    While I agree with your assertion that the results of experiments performed upon animals are not always applicable to humans, it seems an undeniable implication of any anti-testing argument which stresses the efficacy of experiments that tests performed upon animals resulting in a tangible benefit to humans are justified. I don't accept this under any circumstances (whether the subjects of experiments or cullings are animals or mentally-deficient humans*), for the reasons I have already noted re: the rights of the individual. The human (and non-human) animal RIGHTS view precludes individuals being treated as mere tools or liabilities, whether or not anyone else will benefit.

    * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Action_T4

    I don't understand your point about mental impairment, fiver?
    The only relevance of the severe mental impairment of individuals (human or non-human) to me is that this may diminish the ability of individuals to be aware of what is happening to them and suffer. If we are faced with an emergency scenario (eg. a naturally occurring house fire in which no individual has been placed in that situation because of the actions of a disrespectful other) we should give priority to the interests of those who stand to lose and suffer more. Yes?
    Last edited by fiver; Aug 23rd, 2013 at 06:53 PM.

  3. #203
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    Default Re: Are you an abolitionist or a welfarist?

    .
    Last edited by harpy; Aug 23rd, 2013 at 09:24 PM.

  4. #204
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    Default Re: Are you an abolitionist or a welfarist?

    Possibly, but I don't think it gives us the right to set fire to "mentally impaired" individuals even if it might save some non-impaired individuals who are currently on fire, if that's what you're driving at.
    I have no idea how you interpreted what I wrote as excusing setting mentally impaired individuals on fire. Re-read - 'an emergency scenario ... in which no individual has been placed in that situation because of the actions of a disrespectful other'. Respectful persons don't set others on fire deliberately, not even to save their own skin. I was referring to an unintended house fire (eg. that resulting from an electrical fault), which is noone's responsibility. In this case, I stand by my comment that priority should be given to evacuating those with greater comprehension, capacity for suffering and opportunity, if we have limited time to act.

    Still not 100% sure why you mentioned this point TBH. Are you drawing a parallel between animals and "mentally impaired" humans, or what?
    Insofar as we should treat like cases alike, which is a requirement of ethics, yes.
    Last edited by fiver; Aug 23rd, 2013 at 05:49 PM.

  5. #205
    Pea-utiful... Peabrain's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are you an abolitionist or a welfarist?

    Fiver, I think harpy meant a metaphorical "fire". What she's saying is it's a deeply questionable idea to think that it would be okay to use as testing subjects, or deny treatment/help for, mentally impaired individuals to the benefit of non-mentally-impaired individuals. I'd agree. It seems much the same as non-vegans saying animals suffer less so therefore it's a better option than using humans.

    Obviously, in our current medical climate; if there were a situation where a person had a higher likelihood of survival - for example, such we see on organ transplant waiting lists - they are given priority, but because of physical capabilities (such as whether they are well enough to survive surgery etc.), not because they just "wouldn't be as aware" if they became terminally ill or their quality of life became massively degraded as a result of being passed over for treatment/help. At least I hope this isn't the case!

    The major point being - and much is the basis of the entire animal sentience argument - no person can tell exactly how much another can suffer, just that they can. Even if it's perceived to be only a tiny amount of suffering, it is basis enough for the assumption that it is unethical to use/withhold help from any human or other animal in such ways.
    Last edited by Peabrain; Aug 23rd, 2013 at 08:33 PM.

  6. #206
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    Default Re: Are you an abolitionist or a welfarist?

    Fiver, I think harpy meant a metaphorical "fire". What she's saying is it's a deeply questionable idea to think that it would be okay to use as testing subjects, or deny treatment/help for, mentally impaired individuals to the benefit of non-mentally-impaired individuals. I'd agree.
    Yes, 'fire' can be understood both literally and metaphorically. Either way, Harpy implied that my RIGHTS view allows for the exploitation of the mentally impaired:

    I don't think it gives us the right to set fire to "mentally impaired" individuals even if it might save some non-impaired individuals who are currently on fire, if that's what you're driving at.
    This is VERY insulting and not at all representative of what I said:

    I don't accept this under any circumstances (whether the subjects of experiments or cullings are animals or mentally-deficient humans*), for the reasons I have already noted re: the rights of the individual.
    The specific comment of mine she initially replied to concerns 'two individuals with the same health condition'. Even metaphorically, that means in the SAME predicament. That means both already on fire, or in a burning house. Whereas, she implies I would set someone on fire, or drag them into a burning house to benefit someone else. That is apples and oranges...

    She misrepresented my view, plain and simple. I shouldn't have to explain this.
    Last edited by fiver; Aug 23rd, 2013 at 09:18 PM.

  7. #207
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    Default Re: Are you an abolitionist or a welfarist?

    Sorry, Fiver, I don't follow your argument at all so I may well have misrepresented it. I'll delete the message you think is insulting. I am glad nobody is arguing in favour of testing on either animals or "mentally deficient" (not a phrase I'd use myself) humans.

    PS FWIW on reflection I think if I had to choose between rescuing a "normal" person and one with a "mental impairment" I'd go for the one with the "mental impairment" since not understanding what was happening would increase their distress and they would be less likely to be able to help themselves.

  8. #208
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    Default Re: Are you an abolitionist or a welfarist?

    Sorry, Fiver, I don't follow your argument at all
    I'll have one last go at clarifying what I wrote:

    I don't believe that any human or animal should be used merely as a tool to benefit others. I don't believe anyone should be made a guinea pig in anyone's experiments.

    I DO believe that if two individuals suffer from the same affliction (or are trapped in a metaphorical "burning house") and if one of those individuals is by comparison significantly mentally impaired, less aware of what is going on around them, less prone to experiencing acute distress re: their imminent death, that we could justify (a) treating them with some experimental therapy first, provided we acted in their best interest, OR (b) preferencing the more cognisant individual (if we only had time to save one person from the "burning house").

    Is that more clear? I'm not seeking to exploit anyone.
    Last edited by fiver; Aug 23rd, 2013 at 09:54 PM.

  9. #209
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    Default Re: Are you an abolitionist or a welfarist?

    Not sure. Is your position is that it would be OK to experiment on certain humans (ETA who wouldn't be able to give informed consent), though not on animals? If so, how is it compatible with acting in their best interest and not exploiting (or harming) them? How would the humans be selected? Don't bother to answer if you don't want to. You can tell me if I'm "misrepresenting your view" again though and I will delete the message again.

  10. #210
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    Default Re: Are you an abolitionist or a welfarist?

    Not sure. Is your position is that it would be OK to experiment on certain humans, though not on animals?7
    Harpy, PLEASE! How can you extract that from my last post? My first statement says 'no experiments on ANY human or animal merely to benefit others'. My second statement applies equally to both humans and animals - species is irrelevant.

  11. #211
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    Default Re: Are you an abolitionist or a welfarist?

    You said "I DO believe that if two individuals suffer from the same affliction (or are trapped in a metaphorical "burning house") and if one of those individuals is by comparison significantly mentally impaired, less aware of what is going on around them, less prone to experiencing acute distress re: their imminent death, that we could justify (a) treating them with some experimental therapy...". How is "treating them with some experimental therapy" different from "experimenting on them"?

  12. #212
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    Default Re: Are you an abolitionist or a welfarist?

    How is "treating them with some experimental therapy" different from "experimenting on them"?
    Fair point. In the second statement I refer to an experimental therapy which is applied with the express purpose of helping the subject of the experiment (as opposed to doing nothing and letting them die). This differs from the experiments excluded in the first statement, which are performed only for the benefit of others (and are usually more invasive or harmful). This kind is the exploitative sort.

  13. #213
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    Default Re: Are you an abolitionist or a welfarist?

    With an untested drug there's a risk that it will do more harm than good - that's partly why they test them. If there wasn't a risk like that then you would be able to get plenty of people with the same illness and of normal mental capacity to volunteer to try it out, surely. To me, if you decide to run that risk on behalf of someone else, you're exploiting them. And I repeat, who would select the subjects - and how?

    (Apart from the ethical considerations, allocating people to experimental groups in a clinical trial on the basis of mental capacity would seem to render the whole exercise pretty suspect from a scientific point of view - you have to allocate them randomly, otherwise you can't make a valid comparison between the outcomes in the groups (ETA and then change: e.g. experimental and control) and see if the drug had the intended effect.)

  14. #214
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    Default Re: Are you an abolitionist or a welfarist?

    With an untested drug there's a risk that it will do more harm than good - that's partly why they test them. If there wasn't a risk like that then you would be able to get plenty of people with the same illness and of normal mental capacity to volunteer to try it out, surely. To me, if you decide to run that risk on behalf of someone else, you're exploiting them.
    I don't agree that such a treatment would be exploitative. If someone is already in a "burning house", or has a terminal illness then they already face imminent death if nothing is done. You imply that the individual would be subjected to a greater risk of harm. How? In a worst-case scenario, they might die more quickly. Or, they could get better.

    If as you say, other people who weren't mentally impaired would gladly put up their hand to receive such a therapy despite the risks (I read only this year about cancer patients with no other prospect of recovery doing exactly this), why would it be wrong to act paternalistically towards someone incapable of choosing, to act in their best interest? If no one in their right mind would volunteer for the treatment, then it doesn't sound like much of a 'cure' to begin with and shouldn't be used.
    Last edited by fiver; Aug 24th, 2013 at 07:29 AM.

  15. #215
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    Default Re: Are you an abolitionist or a welfarist?

    Quote fiver View Post
    I don't agree that such a treatment would be exploitative. If someone is already in a "burning house", or has a terminal illness then they already face imminent death if nothing is done. You imply that the individual would be subjected to a greater risk of harm. How? In a worst-case scenario, they might die more quickly. Or, they could get better.
    there could be side effects that make their remaing time worse/more painful/need more treatment, or have more of an impact on their carers


    Quote fiver View Post
    If as you say, other people who weren't mentally impaired would gladly put up their hand to receive such a therapy despite the risks (I read only this year about cancer patients with no other prospect of recovery doing exactly this), why would it be wrong to act paternalistically towards someone incapable of choosing, to act in their best interest? If no one in their right mind would volunteer for the treatment, then it doesn't sound like much of a 'cure' to begin with and shouldn't be used.
    because consent is needed for it not to be exploitative. If somebody cannot reason and properly understand the risks and consequences of their actions then they cannot consent. The cancer patients you use as your example could reason, and choose to make that decision after being fully informed and weighing up the risk, someone without that capacity would be being exploited, and would leave them vulnerable to all sorts of other exploitative treatment if that particular can of worms was opened up, with the excuse that "we thought it was in their best interests" as the excuse
    "when the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace" Jimi Hendrix

  16. #216
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    Default Re: Are you an abolitionist or a welfarist?

    I don't have anything else to add. I don't agree that such a treatment would be exploitative. Given two people in the same predicament, neither of whom is there because they were treated with disrespect, you would object to a therapy sought by the more cognisant of the two being performed on one who will likely suffer less if there are unintended effects.

    I can think of many cases (for example, those involving people with mental illness or the comatose) where people's doctors and/or family members make decisions on their behalf without their consent. As long as there is a well-informed, considered consensus and the patient's welfare is clearly foremost in the minds of those able to make a decision, I don't have a problem with such acts of paternalism.

    In fact, it seems like a logical implication of your 'must have consent' view that we should not provide vetinary care to injured animals - since they are incapable of communicating their consent to medical procedures and do struggle against such actions frequently. Ridiculous.
    Last edited by fiver; Aug 24th, 2013 at 10:11 AM.

  17. #217
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    Default Re: Are you an abolitionist or a welfarist?

    Quote fiver View Post

    I can think of many cases (for example, those involving people with mental illness or the comatose) where people's doctors and/or family members make decisions on their behalf without their consent. As long as there is a well-informed, considered consensus and the patient's welfare is clearly foremost in the minds of those able to make a decision, I don't have a problem with such acts of paternalism.
    the vast majprity of those are in situations where death or complete vegatative state within a short period of time is an absolute certainty, not merely a possibilty. The other example i can think of is whether to allow the mentally impaired person to have children or to take that ability away from them, I can think of no other, but am open to any information you have on other examples.

    There are of course cases where parents have to decide these things for their children, for example the case last year of the mother who refused to let her son undergo more cancer treatment and the court stepped in on behalf of the state and the father, but i think that is a different argument again.....
    "when the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace" Jimi Hendrix

  18. #218
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    Default Re: Are you an abolitionist or a welfarist?

    the vast majprity of those are in situations where death or complete vegatative state within a short period of time is an absolute certainty, not merely a possibilty.
    Which is precisely the type of scenario that Harpy and I were discussing - "burning houses", terminal illnesses.

    There are of course cases where parents have to decide these things for their children, for example the case last year of the mother who refused to let her son undergo more cancer treatment and the court stepped in on behalf of the state and the father, but i think that is a different argument again.....
    No, it's not a different argument. That is a fine example of medical paternalism - which I am in favour of.
    Last edited by fiver; Aug 24th, 2013 at 10:20 AM.

  19. #219
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    Default Re: Are you an abolitionist or a welfarist?

    Harpy and fiver, firstly I'm sorry if I made this discussion more difficult, and in particular I didn't mean to single out harpy as disagreeing with fiver's ideas...

    But in truth, I was actually quite horrified when I first read your comments fiver, because I myself thought you were suggesting using mentally impaired people who were not already unwell. I think it was just the way you first put it, that it wasn't clear. Now that you've clarified, I can see what you mean, but I think that it is still exploitative to use those with mental impairments even if they happen to already be in a position to test their reaction to a potential new treatment.

    I myself have been a subject in a drug trial, and even with a clear mind and good mental understanding I found myself being exploited. I was 18 years old, having a baby, and was not told all the information available about known possible side effects. One of these side effects happened to me, and caused a serious crisis during the birth of my baby which could have resulted in death for both of us and did result in injuries to both of us.

    I successfully (after a long drawn out 1 and a half year battle which I don't think they bargained on a teenager being able to do with such muster!) obtained an official apology from the primary care trust and hospital concerned, which actually resulted in a change to the way they taught their medical students from then on!

    I mention this, because even as a competent person, it was clearly wrong that they did not give me all the information, and so it follows that anyone who cannot understand what is happening must at the very least have a person, who will understand, and will not benefit from their being given experimental treatment, to advocate for them; and I highly doubt such an advocate would agree to the kind of thing you were suggesting...

    Quote fiver View Post
    a) treating them with some experimental therapy first, provided we acted in their best interest
    While this statement seems slightly less offensive idea than the one I initially thought you meant, it basically seems like an oxymoron to me. I don't think it's possible to act in their best interests, if the interests of others is the aim.
    Last edited by Peabrain; Aug 24th, 2013 at 03:23 PM.

  20. #220
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    Default Re: Are you an abolitionist or a welfarist?

    I myself thought you were suggesting using mentally impaired people who were not already unwell.
    NO! Absolutely not.

    I don't think it's possible to act in their best interests, if the interests of others is the aim.
    There must a problem with my communication then, because I have tried to correct this faulty perception of my statements numerous times.

    If two people are facing imminent death, neither have been put into this situation through disrespectful treatment and we either have the choice to save only one of them due to limited time OR one of them already has a much lower quality of life, I think that we should preference the one who has more to lose. Is this controversial?

  21. #221
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    Default Re: Are you an abolitionist or a welfarist?

    Let's be clear about what we're discussing. Drug testing is in 2 main stages

    1) Pre-clinical testing, where they try to establish using animal tests and other tests not involving humans (such as in vitro and in silico) that the drug (a) has the desired effect and (b) doesn't do more harm than good
    2) Clinical trials, where the drug is tested on human volunteers.

    (Read more about this distinction e.g. here http://psg.nextwaveservices.com/docs...ical_trial.pdf)

    Since in (2) the testing is already on humans, we must be discussing the use of humans in (1). This means that there is a risk that the drug will not work and that it will do more harm than good. At present I believe it would be illegal for these tests to be performed on humans, consenting or not, although the experimenters could and sometimes do try a drug themselves before the clinical trial stage. If you have read about parents deciding to give their children an "untested" drug I think it would have meant that they decided to put the child in a clinical trial. They wouldn't be able to put their children in a pre-clinical test.

    Even at the clinical trial stage there are risks - we have all read about ones were the participants have become ill(er) - but some patients or their carers will decide that the risk is worth accepting, for example because they are ill and hope for a cure - or because they need the money http://chronicle.com/article/Inside-...orld-of/66225/. If you used humans at the pre-clinical stage the risk of unwanted side-effects would obviously be far greater.

    Personally, I think the way forward lies in using more in vitro and in silico models at the pre-clinical stage, which is what organisations like the Dr Hadwen Trust are trying to promote. There might also be a case for starting clinical trials earlier in the process and/or using them in place of some pre-clinical tests (e.g. as discussed here http://www.future-science.com/doi/fu...155/bio.09.168) but only if the participants (or perhaps carers who could be shown to be acting purely in the people's interests and not anyone else's) can give their informed consent. Singling out people who couldn't give informed consent would to me be morally repugnant. It would also be against the Nuremberg Code which exists for good reasons IMO. ETA obviously point 3 of the code is at issue as we want to substitute something else for the animal tests.
    Last edited by harpy; Aug 24th, 2013 at 11:54 AM.

  22. #222
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    Default Re: Are you an abolitionist or a welfarist?

    Harpy, as I see it you're trying to argue around this point I made earlier:

    Today's medical knowledge was built on the suffering and death of those who came before us.
    Of course, we should try to do as much research as we can before ANY pre-clinical or clinical trial. But... eventually someone has to pop the pill or undergo the procedure. My view is that this should be those who are already in a position where they stand to gain from the therapy. No individual should ever be made sick or used in an experiment merely to benefit another or offset their risk. On this we can agree.

    We must accept that our medical knowledge is based on past experience of what does and doesn't work. For many people, treatments won't work. They will suffer. They will die. This is unfortunate, but unavoidable. Not knowing for certain what will help people doesn't mean we regard some as expendable. Shall we do nothing? I don't see how we can make this reality of life less ugly.
    Last edited by fiver; Aug 24th, 2013 at 12:10 PM.

  23. #223
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    Default Re: Are you an abolitionist or a welfarist?

    Now it's my turn to have no idea how you arrived at that interpretation from what I wrote I'm not talking about how today's medical knowledge was acquired at all, I'm discussing how we should acquire more knowledge in future.

  24. #224
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    Default Re: Are you an abolitionist or a welfarist?

    I'm discussing how we should acquire more knowledge in future.
    I didn't disagree with what you wrote, your suggestions. I don't see how trial and error is avoidable. The scientific process comes up with theories about how things such as our bodies work. These have to be tested and they are often revised. In the case of medicine, a wrong theory has the potential to hurt someone. No getting around that.

  25. #225
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    Default Re: Are you an abolitionist or a welfarist?

    Did someone say trial and error is avoidable?

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    Default Re: Are you an abolitionist or a welfarist?

    I got the impression someone objected to the use of untested medical theories in practice, as that would be 'an abuse of those who are first to receive unproven treatments'. Maybe I misunderstood, but that being the case medical science can never be revised through experience or advance.
    Last edited by fiver; Aug 24th, 2013 at 01:06 PM.

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