killing animals in the name of science

Sunday 7th August. We spend the day in the Marine Station Field Science Center for Northern Biosphere of Hokkaido University. Notably, we carried on a bio-survey to study the diversity of species living closed to the coast.
I have to admit that this survey makes me feel quite uncomfortable. We collect all these animals, placed them in ice bucket and eventually, line up them in boxes in the laboratory. To my mind, it is common sense to see that those animals were put in situation of high stress (lack of water, concentration in bags, conservation in ice) and obviously, their nervous system being involved in this situation of high stress, a form of suffering was definitely at stake. However, such an evident statement for me, does not make sense for other people who does not consider suffering in animals whose shape and behaviour are so different that any identification process cannot take place. This is the weakness of the argument claiming that we made those animals suffering without any purpose.

At this point, I assume that some people would argue that there was a legitimate purpose: science. I am not going to extensively demonstrate how science has gained an undefeatable power of legitimacy in our contemporary society. Still, the human kind “master and owner of Nature” is legitimate in enforcing any kind of experience on other species as long as it serves the purpose of knowledge; knowledge that we keep defending the ultimate value without even questioning this assumption. In my opinion, as long as one starts questioning the value of science, it will appear that this quest for knowledge is not worth killing animals. The very tenant of science epistemology lies on the ultimate distinction between human kind and animals (I would better say human animals and non-human animals). If one comes to consider the non-exceptionnality of human kind, and asses the equal value of all living beings, moved by a common principle of life, any experience involving killing animals leads to a moral issue. I realize how complex is this question, since it involves the very fundamentals principles of our morality and metaphysics. I don’t want to blame anyone for carrying such studies. However, I would like to focus our attention and question the assumptions that allow such bio-survey to be done without any critical point of view from the surveyor. I assume that investigating the argument highlighting the life principle, may lead to a renewed perspective on such studies.


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