What would you do?

We understand.

There is a segment of the population that opposes the use of animals in medical research and basic science.  Their reasons vary.  Some think all sentient beings ought to have the same basic right to life and freedom as any other human being. Some believe that the work amounts to scientific fraud and cannot possibly lead to any advancements in the health of humans. Some argue that illness is merely a product personal choices. In most cases, it is a combination of all of the above.

Of course, we disagree.

So what have we done about it?

We made the effort to open up dialogue and bring both sides of this important debate to the court of public opinion.  In 2010 Drs. David Jentsch and Dario Ringach, along the student group Bruins for Animals, organized a discussion panel at UCLA that many welcomed as a good first step at establishing some sort of meaningful debate.

In 2011, Dario Ringach and Robert C. Jones (an animal rights philosopher from California State University at Chico and a participant in the our 2010 discussion panel), organized a one-day symposium at UCLA on the similarities and dissimilarities of human and non-human primate cognition (video here).

Dr. Ringach participated in two public debates on the use of animals in research.  The first one at the Institute for Human Values in Health Care at the Medical University of South Carolina, where he debated animal rights philosopher Dr. Nathan Nobis.  A second debate took place at Rutgers Law School, where he debated animal rights scholar Prof. Gary Francione.

In 2013, Dr. Ringach also participated in the UW Forum on Animal Research Ethics that aims to provide a platform for all sides to share their views with the public.  He also published an article about the ethics and science of animal research and contributed a chapter to a book that describes the position of both sides.

After accepting an invitation to speak at a local high school, Dr. Ringach brought along animal rights philosopher Robert C. Jones to present to opposing view.  Their shared goal was to educate children that we can have a civil debate about moral disputes in our society.

And on top of all that, our strong commitment to providing the opposing side a platform to express themselves in public continued throughout a deplorable campaign against researchers that included threats, intimidation, and calls for violence by animal rights extremists.  Nefariously, our efforts were replied with increased “home visits” that clearly have no other purpose than to harass those they disagree with.

What would you do to stop the relentless attacks on your family and home? What kind of support would you want and expect from your community, professional societies, home institution and the government?

After more than 10 years of a sustained campaign animal right extremists left us with no options but to personally protect ourselves from their disgraceful behavior.  It was regrettable that, on our first attempt, one person within our group was overwhelmed with anger resulting from over a decade of mistreatment from animal extremism and acted in ways we do not approve of.

Our stated goal clearly was, and still remains, to peacefully prevent animal rights thugs from conducting orchestrated campaigns of harassment against the UCLA family.  We wanted to convey that message clearly to all our supporters.  Having said that, one must not let the bullies who openly support violence as a legitimate method to advance their cause to pretend they are the victims.

It is then for all the above reasons that we will gather once again on Saturday Feb 15th at 10:15am, in the Lobby of Franz Hall, at UCLA to defend the tranquility of our homes, families and neighbors from fanatics whose sole goal is to resolve their moral dispute by violence and force.  We will join hands and be proud of the fantastic science done at UCLA and in universities across the country in the name of society.  Work that will improve the well-being of humans and animals alike.

David Jentsch and Dario Ringach

35 responses to “What would you do?

  1. please you are not getting my point; i want to know, standing in front of you a human and an animal, what makes one less of a life that you would say im going to cut you open to one and give the other a pass. what is that? Is it because all the reasons you gave above, “cannot consent verbally” , “cannot accept the basic responsibility of respecting the rights of others”, “all living beings do no have the same interests in life as that of a human being” , “You cannot have rights without accepting the basic responsibility of respecting the rights of others.” , “Animals cannot have rights because they are not able to participate as autonomous rational agents in our moral community.” , “They should be able to play by mutually agreed societal rules of behavior. They should be able to behave according to such rules even it means acting contrary to their own interests in order to protect the rights of others.” ? Is this the total reasons? Are there any-other or is this all?

    • I will try one last time, but I do not think we will be able to communicate.

      I will simply cite the animal philosophers themselves this time —

      Peter Singer writes, “ […]to take the life of a being who has been hoping, planning and working for some future goal is to deprive that being of the fulfillment of those efforts; to take the life of a being with a mental capacity below the level needed to grasp that one is a being with a future — much less make plans for the future — cannot involve this particular kind of loss.

      Tom Regan agrees “[…] the harm that death is, is a function if the opportunities for satisfaction it forecloses, and no reasonable person would deny that the death of any […] human would be a greater prima facie loss, and thus a greater prima facie harm, that would be true in the case [of] a dog.”

      Based on this, when lives are at stake, as in the case of animal research, I find the work to be morally justifiable.

      • Ok the I must concluded that you Do feel it is morally justifiable to cut open and experiment on a mentally handicapped child. Mentally challanged adult etc and I have given you every opportunity to say different. But this is clearly your view as it all has to do with the abilty, or should i say the lack thereof to decern, decide and oppose.

        • Haha… No. But I have given you the opportunity to save a child over a mouse if confronted by the dilemma. Clearly, your hate for humans goes beyond your love of animals.

          • I have given you no such reason to say such a thing; I see all life as equally valuable and worthy of life, freedom, kindness and respect. My only hate is for evil. Everything I have asked you was answered by trying to obfuscate and ramble. Nothing is clear or absolute in your answers. But one thing that is clear with all the reasons you have given me is that to you it is ok to experiment on any sentient being that cannot oppose.

          • “My only hate is for evil.”
            Like cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and so on?

            “Nothing is clear or absolute in your answers.”
            Life is full of moral dilemmas. Only zealots see everything in black and white.

            But one thing that is clear with all the reasons you have given me is that to you it is ok to experiment on any sentient being that cannot oppose.

            No, I never said that… sorry to disappoint.

            It seems this conversation has reached its natural end.

            Live long and good health to you.

          • Please answer one last question and please, if you wouldnt mind, as straightforwad as possible ; there are some non human animals that are equal or more intellegent than some human individials why would the non human be subjected to experimentation over the human subject, is it the simple fact that one is human and one is not?

          • And out of curiosity where do your Moral s come from

  2. But is it only “same interests in life” that allows you to experiment on them or not? Is that the deciding factor? What is the deciding factor whether a sentient being is experimented on or not? is there an absolute deciding factor? [referring to those that cannot consent verbally]

    • Scientists view the work as a situation analogous to a burning house scenario where you can save only one — a human or a mouse. In that situation, all animal rights philosophers agree that it makes sense to save the human. To many scientists, not doing the research implies people that could have been saved due to the development of new therapies and cures would die and there is no other option (at the moment) to advance the work without the use of animals in research. We could also let the mice live, but with the understanding that people will die because the research will not be done. Those that support research face the moral dilemma and decide it is permissible to do the work until new methods and technologies allow us to do away with the use of animals. Others prefer to deny there is a moral dilemma. One way to do so is to declare all living beings have the same right to life and freedom as any other human being. We disagree.

  3. So it is OK to experiment on those that don’t mutually understand it, and understand that the other one understands it.?

    • Those that fail to play by the rules of mutual engagement, depending on their violation, may be giving up their right to freedom. For example, an animal rights extremist that firebombs a house of someone she disagrees with, risks having her freedom taken away from her. Could one experiment on such individuals? As a matter of fact, some animal rights philosophers have actually argued in favor of this. See for example — https://speakingofresearch.com/2013/10/29/some-animal-rights-philosophers-say-the-darndest-things/. I personally disagree.

      So, why do you think all living beings deserve the same rights to life and freedom?

      • Im trying to make a point and the last response went off in the wrong direction. You had said previously that “Animals cannot have rights because they are not able to participate as autonomous rational agents in our moral community.” So I am wondering if that is the barometer of whether one has rights or not?
        And I would never firebomb anyones house ()

        • Yes, that’s what I think… You cannot have rights without accepting the basic responsibility of respecting the rights of others. Non-human animals simply cannot understand this notion.

          I never said that you would bomb anyone’s house. But certainly some animal rights extremists have done these things.

      • So again in your opinion it is ok to experiment on those that cannot accept the basic responsibility of respecting the rights of others?
        I would really like to know at what point is it ok to experiment on someone. ( someone: any sentient being) ?

        • It is acceptable when a subject simply volunteers (such as a patient facing a terminal disease) when in full control of his/her cognitive abilities and accept the risks involved. There is plenty of human-based research. It is also morally justifiable (which is very different as saying it morally obligatory, or simply “Ok” as you say) to use non-human animals in cases where no other options appear viable, when the benefits in advancing knowledge and human/animal health are explained, and where all efforts are made to alleviate any pain or discomfort via the use of analgesics and anesthetics. The reason is that we do not believe all living beings have the same interests in life as that of a human being. All moral philosophers recognize this fact, from Peter Singer to Tom Regan. When facing moral decisions that pit human vs non-human life, the same things are not at stake. Animal experimentation is one such moral dilemma.

  4. Please define “mutually agreed societal rules of behavior” and who does this apply to?

    • Mutually agreed societal rules applies to both parties. An example might be an agreement not to kill or steal – both parties must mutually understand it, and understand that the other one understands it.

  5. Tom is this your blog?

    • I founded Speaking of Research. The blog belongs to the whole Speaking of Research committee.

    • Ok let me put it another way; what would have to happen (physically / mentally or otherwise) for animals to become autonomous rational agents?

      • They should be able to play by mutually agreed societal rules of behavior. They should be able to behave according to such rules even it means acting contrary to their own interests in order to protect the rights of others.

  6. Hello, are you going to answer??

  7. ok just read your Moral Status post, so again I ask what would they need, in your view, to be entitled to that right?

  8. would you mind putting it here just for convenience sake?

  9. David Jentsch, can you answer a question? Why is it morally OK for you to experiment on an animal? When they feel pain, fear and dread just like us? I know this sounds simplistic but i am going to make a point and i need your reponse.