Is Use of Animal Testing for Cosmetics Ethical?

Assignment Instructions

Consider the following scenario:

A cosmetic company uses rabbits to test the irritancy levels of its products eyes for the purposes of making nonirritating cosmetics for women who will use such products. Large doses are injected into eyes and the test is painful.

In one paragraph, answer the following:

Is such testing ethical?

Using ethical theory, explain why you feel the use of animal testing for cosmetics is ethical or not. Also using ethical theory, explain the reasoning for the opposing position and why it is incorrect.

Sample Answer

Ethical theory is divided into two approaches; virtue ethics and duty ethics. Virtue ethics considers what makes a person, his/ her character, or motives morally good (Hume,1970).Duty ethics focuses on acts or rules and what makes them right(Mill,1998).In effect, ethics are a set of moral principles or code. Animal ethics falls under personal ethics and likewise rabbits fall under animals. Ethics are important to the animal protection movement because people’s values and morality underpin behavior and beliefs and these determine how people treat and feel about animals.

Is such testing ethical?

The testing is unethical.

Using ethical theory, explain why you feel the use of animal testing for cosmetics is ethical or not.

Regardless of any possible benefits, the use for harmful purposes of one species to another, without consent, is fundamentally unethical and all forms of animal research must therefore be abandoned. More effort should be made to get alternative ways of obtaining the information required e.g. through research undertakings on human tissue or human volunteers (British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, 2002). The case with the cosmetic company involves injecting large doses in to the eyes of the rabbits and therefore resulting to high level of suffering.

Also using ethical theory, explain the reasoning for the opposing position and why it is incorrect.

Provided that certain criteria relating to the research objectives and the degree of animal suffering were met, 90% of the UK populations were willing to accept animal research (Market & Opinion poll Research International (MORI), 2002). With this regard, there were no standard criteria followed in testing the company’s products irritancy levels through the rabbits’ eyes hence the painful test. This does not put regard to some modifications proposed over the yearsto reduce the pain to be endured by the animal and achieve higher rates of recovery such as in the low volume eye test(Freeberg, Nixon,  Reer, Weaver,  Bruce,  Griffith, & Sanders,  1986).Less pain has to be endured by therabbitssince only a small sample volume is used in the test. The rates of recovery is higher and the ensuing irritation of the rabbits’ eyes is smaller ( Freeberg et al. 1986).

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