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Sturla Molden stumol at stud.ntnu.no
Tue Oct 27 11:49:28 EST 1998

DK <cooper17.spamless at xs4all.nl> wrote:

: I used to kill rats (and baby chickens) not out of "curiosity", but to feed
: to snakes and hawks and owls (rescued, injured, in need of help), but could
: do it without finesse: the old pillow case trick is really pretty humane. Am
: I a pervert too? Should the snakes starve?

In Norway it is illegal to feed a living animal (that is, vertegrates 
and decapods) to another animal. The practice is rewarded with up to 
6 months behind bars. Personally I find the iea of using rodens as living 
food for reptiles disgusting.

The best way of preventing snakes from starvation is not to keep
them as pets. The second best alternative, which is frequently
used in research laboratories, is to keep them in a refridgerator.
At a temperature of 4 centigrades they are torpid with just barely 
measurable metabolism.

: On the other hand, although I am NOT accusing anyone in this group of doing
: this, I agree that there is a lot of repeat research being done to no real
: point (cosmetic research is a prime abuser here), and to use live animals in
: such unnecessary investigation is indeed a tragic and sick thing. When we
: can clone brainless animals, or just parts of animals, which can feel no
: pain and have no awareness, clinical animal research (except, obviously,
: behavioral, etc., for which a complete and functioning animal reactionary
: system would be necessary) will cease to be an ethical/moral grey area.

Brainless animals constitute a major ethical problem. 
It is actually so rpoblematic that it is better to avoid the
practice all together. 

: And lastly... however I feel about doing research on living, feeling
: creatures, I am grateful that the people on this group are involved in this
: discussion which makes it clear to me that at least these particular people
: are trying to prevent unnecessary suffering in what they do. That the first
: poster wanted to know how to do what he is going to do humanely is a good
: thing.

Statically speaking, animal rights activists can protest
20.8 years longer courtecy of animal research.

Personally I do feel that we should treat animals and humans
according to different ethical standards, even though humans
obviously are animals. There have been several attempts to
justify this assertion on neurobiological grounds, but all
of them have been seriously flawed. Some have argued 
that animals behave only accordin to instinct and not reason,
that they aren't conscious aware, that they have a less
developed brain, et cetera. For some animals this is probably 
true, but there is no reason to suspect that rats are much
"below" humans if you only take biology into account. E.g.
if one were to use the persentage of neocortex, which is
often used at the argument for human superiority over 
other animal species, the marsupials should be considered
to be the most intelligent creatures on earth. It is also hard 
to find a good argument for the assetion that intelligence should
correlate positively with ethical standard. Not only is this
pure teleology, but is could also mean that the mentally challenged
should have some of their human righs withdrawn. E.g. it 
should then be legal to conduct experiments on people that 
has an IQ below the smartest nonhuman animal. Murdering mentally
retarded people should also not be punished as hard as murdering
normal people. Thus, I think it is downright stupid to look
for the foundation of ethics in animal behaviour or neuroanatomy.
Rather, ethics must be based on pure conviction.

My conviction is that one should not give animals the same
moral standings as a human, and that it should, under some
circumstances be justified to kill animals, e.g. for consumption
or research. But in any case the expected suffering should
be kept at a minimum. With respect to rodents, use of
barbiturates is an easy way to prevent unneccesary pain.

Ether is, or should be, out of use. It is both painful and
dangerous. As you probably know, the compound can produce
peroxide ions and self-detonate in its container.

I do understand the argument from animal rights activists
to some degree, it is important to treat life with respect.
But I think we should realise that death is also a side of 
life, and that organisms prey on eachother to survive. If we
do not accept that animals are killed for nutrition, then  
we are forgetting that we too are living organisms. The
"respect for life" argument from animal rights activists
applies to plants as well as it does to animals. Vegetarians
do not feel this way, obviously, but their argument is
the old, flawed history about neuroanatomy and awareness.
If animal rights activists get it their way, and if we
also recognise plants for being the living creature they are,
self-starvation we be our only ethically acceptable 

Therefore I think it is more helpful, both to humans
and animals, that questions abouth euthanasia is 
given proper answers rather than, say, hysteric screaming 
about murder and unjustified suffering.

Actually I think researchers that conduct experimens on
animals are more concerned about animal welfare than the
so-called proponents of animal rights. In practice the
most animal rights propnents do is to harbour homeless

But now this contribution is going completely off-topic
at bionet.neuroscience, so I will end here. :)


Sturla Molden

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