In order to guarantee the safety of cosmetics which include harmful chemicals, many enterprises which produce cosmetics including harmful chemicals would do animal and (or) human tests, as Dutch Cosmetics would do for getting the market access for its newly developed glow-in-the-dark make-up. As for Dutch Cosmetics, it will confront an ethical puzzle: whether animals can be injected high doses of burning chemicals which will make them painful and harmed, and whether unsuspecting people in a developing country can be conducted chemical tests which may harm them. This essay will firstly argue and solve the puzzle from the viewpoint of utilitarianism, following that it will do it from the viewpoint of Kantian ethics, and finally it will do it from the viewpoint of Virtue ethics.
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The viewpoint of Utilitarianism
From the viewpoint of Utilitarianism, which is an ethics based on consequence (Ethical Theory, p. 38), “the greatest good (happiness/pleasure) for greatest number” is the criteria to justify one act (Ethical Theory, p. 38), animal and human testing is not the right thing. According to Mill, pleasures not only include base and physical ones, but also higher, aesthetical and intellectual ones (Ethical Theory, p. 40). Obviously, Utilitarianism is applied for selecting one right act among a few acts, by subtracting pain from pleasure. The act whose total net is greatest is the right act. The greatest number includes all concerned who are affected by the proposed action. Maybe it includes every person on the earth and animal (Ethical Theory, p. 40). For chemical tests would be conducted by Dutch Cosmetics to get the market access for its newly developed glow-in-the-dark make-up, the following people and animals would be affected:
– Animals. Puppies and kittens that are so near and sentient with us will be harmed by high dose of burning chemicals and will pain. Certainly, they can not get any pleasures from the experiment.
– Unsuspecting people in a developing country. Unsuspecting people in a developing country who will be conducted test probably will be harmed by burning chemicals.
– Consumers. They are capable of getting some pleasures from beautiful, trendy and stimulative glow-in-the-dark make-up. However, such thing may be harmful to their health due to the make-up includes burning chemicals, and they must pay money which can give them other pleasures for it. Besides, they may feel painful when they know the producing of the cosmetic they are consuming has done harm on animals and people, for many people would feel uncomfortable when they see animal painful or even think of their pain.
– Myself. As the vice-president of Dutch Cosmetics to make decision, I must consider all pleasures and pain of greatest number including myself. As a person, I dislike paining puppies and kittens. Maybe I am indifferent of them, the probability of the former is greater, and conducting chemical tests on unsuspecting people in a developing country perhaps irritates my feelings of justice. As a manager and decision maker, I should think about the profit of the company, which means I have to concern the benefits and costs, the risk of the experiment, etc. Consequently, more profits will give me more income, and maybe advance, which perhaps will give me pleasure. Nonetheless, I maybe feel painful on account of public unsatisfaction if my decision irritates popular due to the harm on animals and people conducted chemical tests.
– Investors in Dutch Cosmetics. If the glow-in-the-dark make-up is popular, they will make profits certainly, which may make them happy. But as a person, an investor maybe feels painful because his investment harms animals and people.
– Labourers. On one hand, they face painful animals and cheated people conducted chemical tests directly, which perhaps makes them painful. On the other hand, they get work and salary due to the experiment, which may make them happy. Clearly, it is possible for them to get other job which may make them happier.
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– Co-workers. They would get more income if the new product is successful, which might make them happy. However, they perhaps feel painful because their own company does harms on animals and people conducted tests.
To judge if the proposed experiment is the right act, the net total calculated by abstracting pain from pleasure must be compared with that of undoing animal experiment and chemical tests on unsuspecting people. The alternative that tests are conducted on people who give informed consent can be supposed. Often the data from animal experiment is not fit for people because they have different attributes. in the exploitation of new type of cosmetics, pleasures people get are less than the pain animals suffered, that’s why Harold Fenberg, the chairperson of the American Accreditation for the Care of Laboratory Animal Committee stated that “the testing of cosmetics is frivolous and should be abolished” (Jamieson and Regan, 1982, p. 140). As to tests conducted on unsuspecting people in a developing country, if the fact of tests is known by these people, they will feel irritated and painful by such cheating act, albeit there is no law to crack down on such action, which would lead to the company to lose the market in this country. If the alternative that test is conducted on people who give informed consent is adopted, there won’t be such pain and disadvantage. So from the viewpoint of Utilitarianism, it is apparent that it is not the right thing to do for Dutch company to inject puppies an kittens with high dose of burning chemicals and conduct tests on unsuspecting people in a developing country.
The viewpoint of Kantian ethics
According to Kantian viewpoint, human testing is not permitted, but whether animal test is the right thing is unknown. Kantian ethics considers that rationality justifies act. Kantian ethics is principal-based ethics which considers not consequence but intent (Ethical theory, p. 42). It permits no contradictions, so it is consequence-based for logic (Ethical theory, p. 43). One important element of Kantian ethics is respect for persons, which is expressed by Kant through his practical imperative: “Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of another, always at the same time as an end and never simply as a means” (Ethical theory, p. 43). Since Kant understands persons to be essentially rational beings with free will, respect for persons means respect for their autonomy (Ethical theory, p. 43). According to Kantian ethics, respect for persons’ autonomy is a moral principle which can’t be violated. Therefore, for Dutch Cosmetics, conducting tests on unsuspecting people is not permitted. As regard to injecting high doses of burning chemicals into puppies and kittens, animal testing does not belong to one of Kantian ethics’ principles, so it is not known whether it is right.
The viewpoint of Virtue ethics
From the viewpoint of Virtue ethics conducting tests on unsuspecting people in developing country is not right, injecting high doses of burning chemicals is not the right act too. Virtue ethics asks “what’s the right kind of person to be?” instead of asking “what’s the right thing to do?” (Ethical theory, p. 44), and the answer is “a virtuous person” (Ethical theory, p. 44). Aristotle, an ancient Greek virtue ethicist listed standard four of the ancient Greeks-justice, temperance, courage, and wisdom-and adds a few others such as veracity, modesty, etc. William David Ross, a twentieth-century thinker, listed virtues such as fidelity, justice, beneficence, non-maleficence, etc. (Ethical theory, p. 44). So according to Virtue ethics, justice, veracity, and beneficence are important virtues which do not permit treating people unequally, cheatingly and maleficently, which means it is not right conducting tests on unsuspecting people.
Aristotle considered that all virtues are at the midpoint between two extremes, his list of virtues are justified by their qualities that enable us to experience eudamonia, which is achieved by developing our unique human function, that of rationality (Ethical theory, p. 44). So according to Aristotle, rationality is the base of his ethics, as well as Kantian ethics, the difference is that the principles in Kantian ethics permit no exception, while virtues in Aristotle ethics are elastic. In view of above, injecting burning chemicals will be right if it is rational and not excessive, but it is not rational if it has little advantages to people and makes great pain to puppies and kittens. Obviously it is not the right thing to inject high doses of burning chemicals into puppies and kittens for a new type of glow-in -the -dark make-up according to Virtue ethics.
In conclusion, from the viewpoints of all aforementioned ethics, tests conducted on unsuspecting people are immoral, even if the reasons are different. Injecting puppies and kittens with high doses of burning chemicals does not accord with the principle of Utilitarianism that the greatest good for the greatest number justifies an act, and does not tally with Virtue ethics which emphasizes the rationality of act. The three ethics in essence all considers the rationality of act as most important, the difference among them is that Kantian ethics considers rationality of act from universality, Utilitarianism considers rationality of act from consequence, which counts into specific circumstances, and Virtue ethics considers rationality of act from human being, so in legislative regard Kantian ethics plays an important role because of its universality, for example, human testing is not allowed without participating party’s informed consent in many countries’ law and international treaties such as Nuremberg Code. Utilitarianism can be a useful analytical method in many specific circumstances. Virtue ethics trains people more happy. The analysis from the three ethics’ viewpoint illustrates that the right course Dutch Cosmetics should adopt is conducting tests on people who give informed consent, instead of animal experiment and tests on unsuspecting people in a developing country.