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Evolution of Animal Ethics and Societal Changes


The modern world is hard to understand and accept as it is: there are several rules to be followed; still, some people find it interesting to break these rules and norms. The question of animal rights and human participation in researching using animals’ lives seems to be one of the hardest aspects to evaluate. People themselves create the rules to improve their lives and protect animal rights; however, they also are responsible for violations and violence regarding animals. The evolution of animal ethics makes the question of human and animal rights urgent today. There are several ways to develop biological research and not to make harm animals.

Pain is the feeling inherent to humans and animals; still, people find it normal to cause pain in animals to achieve some improvements in their lives. There are much more doubts around this question, and it is necessary to analyze societal changes to understand whether the desire to discover new points and knowledge at expense of animals’ torturing may be justified.

Animal ethic is the issue that is worth attention from different aspects: biological research is obligatory for people, still, such changes in society like cultural consciousness of pain and suffering should prove that some other methods may be considered and new points may be discovered in case humans make use of science and other subjects which do not feel pain and pay more attention to the question of animal rights and their role in human life.

Evolution of Animal Ethics and the Outcomes in the Modern World

Animal ethics is a subject that consists of several controversies and misunderstandings. It is not always easy to define whether human treatment of animals is right or wrong because much depends on humans’ feelings toward animals. And from a purely philosophical point of view, the idea of love for animals is the main basis of moral human and animal rights. To understand better the idea of animal ethics and the human role in animals’ lives, the contributions of Colin McGinn (2006) may be considered: he admitted that the main difference between humans and animals is that people know their minds and their abilities in a special way that animals will never do. However, animals got the same rights of existence, and they could still exist even if humans were not here.

The relations between humans and animals may seem to be accidental, still, human attempts to domesticate animals, use them as the main subjects of experiments, and kill them mistakenly or to feed make to believe that humans are too selfish. People decided to use everything around just to create the most successful conditions for living, and the evolution of animal ethics and the desire of some groups of people to underline the importance of animal rights help to define human mistakes.

Observing the conditions under which a modern citizen has to live provides an opportunity to see that humans do not want to find the easiest ways but use everything that is at hand. Several non-animal alternatives are available for people in their investigations, still, such alternatives are neglected.

The Use of Animals in Biological Researches and the Legal Framework

The point is that different people have different understandings of animals’ roles in everyday life: some people accept animals as lovely pets to be used as entertainment, some people try to prove the importance and exclusivity of animals, and certain groups of people truly believe that they can save the world and find out the necessary cures using animals and their characteristics. The third case is probably the most controversial because, during the last two centuries, the necessity to use animals as the main subjects of medical, chemical, and biological researches has become urgent.

People do not want to search for alternatives but use the easiest ways to succeed in science. The investigations of Peter Singer during the second half of the 20th century show that the use of animals in medical researches may be justified and considered ethically correct if no other way is acceptable to “save many human lives because the good that will probably result from the research outweighs the harm done to the animals” (Yount, 2008, p. 5).

However, each philosopher and each scientist may have his/her position regarding animal welfare and animal rights, and it is more important to focus on the legal framework that aims at governing the use of animals to meet special medical goals. The current legislation in the form of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations 2008 aims at preventing any kind of cruelty to animals. Among the variety of objects set, the idea to prescribe the conditions of how people should use or treat animals plays the most important role.

There are many different situations when people have to use animals to promote development and improve their living conditions. According to the Regulations (2008), any kind of scientific procedure should be carried out under the existing license that meets the conditions of the Australian Code of Practice and several other codes.

Taking into consideration the norms predetermined by Regulations, it is clear that some control over human activities does exist, however, animals are not always protected because Regulations and rules are set by people who may break their promises and follow their instincts to save their lives. However, animals and humans have a lot in common: for a long period, people truly believed that only they could have souls and become rational in their activities. At the beginning of 19200, the works by St. Thomas Aquinas showed that animals could not possess a soul or mind, and it seemed to be justified to use animals and satisfy human curiosity in anatomy or some biomedical studies.

Medical researchers aimed at helping people, and animals were powerful means to succeed in investigations. With time, other conclusions were made. The activities of Jeremy Bentham helped to understand that sentience was inherent to animals. The fact that animals could not talk and express their feelings and emotions could hardly prove that animals did not suffer from pain. Even if animal actions are not reasonable, animals did suffer because of human activities during medical research, and such new facts made the idea of animal rights and human cruelty more important.

Importance of New Knowledge and Viewpoints at Expense of Animal Welfare

The statement that animal ethics’ evolution and the necessity of legal framework in governing biomedical research where animals are used may be considered as a kind of reflection to societal changes like cultural conscienceless or presence of alternatives and emergency of new knowledge and new perspectives. Analyzing what people allow doing to animals is regarded by Garner (2005) as morally confusing and doubtful from the emotional aspect.

The idea that people have certain alternatives in their lives does not prevent them from using animals and hurting their feelings. Animals are kept in zoos deprived of freedom and the possibility to choose. The animal has rights, and these rights explain that people should treat animals with the respect that is deserved and provide animals with natural habitat. Animals should have access to communication with each other; companionship between animals should not depend on humans.

Humans are not used in experiments just because they have souls and can express their feelings to others. Animals are used because they cannot do the same things to protect their lives and rights. However, if an experiment takes place and an animal that has several differences from humans is used, it is possible to believe that the same outcomes may be observed in humans later. If animals and humans have so many differences, why do people continue using animals as subjects for their experiments? Maybe, it is possible to search for some other alternatives and meet the conditions under which animals are protected?


Cultural conciseness that has been developed at the end of the 20th century proved that animal experiments may be substituted. Current technological progress makes it possible to create new organisms to improve human life. The question is why humans continue using poor animals to meet their scientific goals. Such attitude to the decision of a problem does not make sense as it is still one-sided: the animal soul is hard to discover, this is why their suffering and pain cannot be understood and considered. The evolution of animal ethics helps to understand that animals and humans should have the same rights.

It is not fair to deprive someone of freedom, however, animal freedom does not turn out to be as important as the human one. This is why the idea of animal rights and the relations between humans and animals will be under numerous debates and questions for a long period.

Reference List

Garner, R. (2005). Animal ethics. Cambridge: Polity.

McGinn, C. (2006). Consciousness and its objects. New York: Oxford University Press.

Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Regulations. (2008). Web.

Yount, L. (2008). Animal rights. New York: Infobase Publishing.

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StudyKraken. "Evolution of Animal Ethics and Societal Changes." March 21, 2022.


StudyKraken. 2022. "Evolution of Animal Ethics and Societal Changes." March 21, 2022.


StudyKraken. (2022) 'Evolution of Animal Ethics and Societal Changes'. 21 March.

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