The Ethics of Animal Exploitation

The Ethics of Animal Exploitation

The Ethics of Animal Exploitation

Question 1

There are various ethical theories, each defining the moral position of the action in question differently. Based on virtue ethics, making ethical decision relate directly with being virtuous. An individual must possess certain qualities, such as courage, tolerance, respect, kindness, and compassion. People who express the opposite of these traits are considered non-virtuous while having these qualities makes a person virtuous (Panaman, 2008). Essentially, ethics of virtue does not appeal to discretion concerning the morals of actions (Trianosky, 1990). Therefore, virtue ethics factors in virtuous qualities when considering whether the doer of the action in question is right or wrong.  

            Virtuous people approve or condemn people or organizations that are non-virtuous towards animals and other people. In this regard, virtue ethics recognizes the importance of the motives of individuals or organizations, and provides an account of their moral motivation. Hence, thoughts, desires and feelings have a specific drive, and play significant roles in the moral evaluation of people’s behaviours. The theory attempts to reconcile people’s emotional life with the rationale aspect of human nature (da Silva, 2018). Thus, Virtue Ethics looks at doers of an action as opposed to the actions themselves.

            In the case of bullfighting, the fighter is not virtuous. The rules of the game require the fighter to injure the animal while avoiding its horns. Thus, the sport transforms or promotes the violent trait of the fighter. The game will likely make the fighter see the world from a violent perspective. They may come to develop a love for violence, which they may perpetrate outside the arena. The sport can turn the fighters into uncompassionate, cruel, and disrespectful people. For instance, they can be violent in the way they treat their wives or children. Therefore, from the standpoint of virtue ethics, bullfighting is not ethical.

Question 2

Utilitarianism employs the aggregation of harms and benefits to establish the morals of an action. From a utilitarian perspective, an action is ethically appropriate if it leads to the benefit of more people. On the contrary, an action is wrong if it leads to the harm of many people. The theory justifies the harm of one or a few beings for the benefit of more. With this regard, an action or practice is ethical provided the number of people or other beings that gain from an action exceeds the numbers that suffer. Hence, the theory can be used to support bullfighting.

Bullfighting audience are relatively well behaved. Comparatively, soccer and other sports attract hooligans more than a bullfighting event does. Andrade (2016) noted that the outbursts of racism and violence have been more common in soccer stadiums than in bullfighting arenas. As such, the game provides an opportunity for the society to tame violent hooliganism. Therefore, frequent bullfighting events can reduce incidences of gang violence, as it provides a venue for them to channel their violent tendencies (Andrade, 2016). Thus, a violent deprived society is worth the afflictions of the bull and the bull fighter.

            In addition, the risks to the fighter and the death of the bull are justified as long as the duel gratifies the spectators. The sport provides an opportunity for the fighter to demonstrate bravery (masculinity). Thus, it affords him social recognition since he emerges a hero after defeating the beast. The people who come to watch the spectacle are appeased. The rush of adrenalin the audience experience is good for the health of the spectators; it relieves them of the stress associated with work and family obligations. Thus, the search of the greatest happiness for the greatest number rationalizes the sport (Andrade, 2016). As such, the activity contributes to the health being of the community partly.



Another case related to bullfighting is animal experimentations. Ever since the advent of medicine, animals have been used to conduct experiments to test the effects of potential treatment modalities, as well as to test certain hypothesis. In medicine researches, animals are used as guinea pigs. The experimentation may involve killing the  animals to study the effects of the drugs on different organs (Foex, 2007). Some of the substances tested tend to cause adverse effects,  involving harming other beings for the benefit of human beings, which pass as selfish and non-virtuous. In the experiments, the researchers inflict suffering on the animals, as the injected or administered drugs can induce hypersensitivity reactions or change the normal functioning of its organs. Thus, the scientist can determine what dose can harm humans when they use the substance to cure their sicknesses.

Research institutions rear animals for experimentation on specific phenomenon. Sometimes, the experiments can involve slaughtering of many helpless animals that are placed in special cages to facilitate their monitoring by the researcher. However, subjecting animals to artifial environments stresses and deprives them of the opportunity to roam freely in nature. Like humans, they have certain rights; therefore, animal experimentation is not ethical.

Question 2

I feel that the situation is an all-or-nothing situatuion. As long as humans and other organisms need new better treatment for their illnesses, the use of animals for experimentations is indespensable. Otherwise, we will have to accept the fate and watch as diseases take toll on the human population. The experiments is also necessary for the health of other domesticated and wild animals, as they also get sick and must be treated to prevent them from dying. Administering a substance whose effects have not been verified by experimentantion on animals poses a great risk, as it can have serious repurcassions on the lives of the patients. Lab animals are the best way to study the effects of substances on humans; therefore, it is ethically right to sacrifice a few animals for the continuity of an entire species, as diseases can wipe out the entire population of humans or other animals.

Question 3

            In a perfect world where I am in charge, this issue will be resolved without consideration of the feelings and rights of animals. Testing the medical effects of new substances will be preferred over the concerns about the wellbeing of animals. For many, animals are lesser beings and humans are free to decide what to do to them as they please. The laws on the rights of animals are not effectively developed, and even if they do, they are not effectively enforced. Because animals cannot speak for themselves, their mistreatment often goes undetected, as many people do not think as advocates of animal rights do.  


Andrade, G. (2016). On ethics of bullfighting. Retrieved from https://www.prindlepost.org/2016/11/ethics-bullfighting/

da Silva, S. (2018). Moral motivation and judgment in virtue ethics. Retrieved from https://journals.openedition.org/philonsorbonne/993

Foex, B. A. (2007). The ethics of animal experimentation. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2658312/pdf/750.pdf

Nobis, N. (2016). Animals & ethics: Thinking critically about animal rights. Retrieved from https://animalstudiesrepository.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1000&context=morsarig

Panaman, R. (2008). Chapter 2: Animals ethics. Retrieved from http://www.animalethics.org.uk/i-ch2-1-animal-ethics.html

Trianosky, G. (1990). What is virtue ethics all about? American Philosophical Quarterly , 27 (4), 335-344. Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/20014344.pdf?refreqid=excelsior%3A68347938bb4e636df55980c09c9d8d87


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