Unanswered [0] | Urgent [0] - SERVICES
  

Home / Writing Feedback   % width Posts: 2

To rack their brains to find our answers; Anthropology essay


FredParisFrance 61 / 7  
Jun 21, 2007   #1
Hello,

Could you please read my Anthropology essay and give me some feedback?

The prompt is:
Discuss the issue of using nonhuman primates in medical experimentation. Are you for or against this practice? What ethical concerns are raised by this practice? What can you suggest doing in place of this practice?

Thank you in advance.
Frederic

To rack their brains to find our answers

At the turn of the third millennium, medicine keeps improving curative and preventive treatments. However, one could raise a quite significant issue about the means utilized to test such treatments. What can prove those tests are less of a hindrance than a help for us? Although searchers endeavor to conduct laboratory experiments to perfect the treatments, they must test them in practice before proposing them for human use. That is why tests on animals, and particularly nonhuman primates, are carried out. Nevertheless, that procedure raises numerous concerns. Indeed, the necessity of medical experimentations on nonhuman primates can be assessed as either biological or cultural viewpoints. On the one hand, from a purely biological point of view, medical experimentations on nonhuman primates may not be always necessarily appropriate. On the other hand, from a cultural viewpoint, medical experimentations on nonhuman primates depend on philosophical and emotional issues.

First of all, medical experimentations on nonhuman primates are precious from a biological perspective. Indeed, some nonhuman primates share with humans more than ninety percent of common genes. Such an amount of genetics resemblance is quite useful to assume that a medical experimentation conducted on some species of nonhuman primates, such as chimpanzees, may prove useful for future human applications. However, researchers must assume that the genes of nonhuman primates may result in a reaction that could be similar in the genes of a human. Nevertheless, since statistically speaking, that genetic similitude is so noticeable that the chances of dissimilarities in the responses to an experiment might not be very singular. For example, somatic and sex cells behave in the same way as regards the procedures of replication and division.

Moreover, the physical aspects of nonhuman primates and humans are not very different. Those species share much common morphological evidence. For instance, those species are made up of a trunk, four limbs (two arms and two legs), and a head that all have the quite similar uses and functions. In addition, physical anthropologists have emphasized their aptitude to grasp, known as prehensibility, their stereoscopic vision, or their omnivorous diet thanks to a generalized dentition. Consequently, nonhuman and human primates show sufficient similitude in order that researchers consider conducting medical experimentations on nonhuman primates with the assurance that the findings could be useful. For example, the substitution of a heart by a pacemaker may happen in the same way.

In opposition, a sensible issue arises about medical experimentations on nonhuman primates. Although those experiments may prove advantageous, the exploitation of nonhuman primates is not always the most appropriate form of experimentation in a biological approach. For instance, as regards cells experiments, mice are usually employed because the cost, waste of time and manpower are alleviated in comparison with nonhuman primate equivalent requirements. The gains emerge from the differences in reproductive strategies of those species. Indeed, mice, as many rodents, have developed a reproductive strategy, known as r-selected, which enhances the production of large numbers of offspring with reduced parental care. On the other hand, nonhuman primates have developed a reproductive strategy, known as K-selected, which emphasizes the production of only few offspring with a tremendous investment in terms of parental care. So, in the same span, researchers can subject more organisms to tests. Moreover, since mice are smaller than primates, the costs linked to the use of cages are beneficial. Therefore, the need for high performance rates in medical experimentations lays emphasis on species with high cost-cutting and time-saving advantages.

Those points prove useful that types of experimentations. Nonetheless, my personal experience with scientific and technical tests has tended to reason me into remaining in alert. Indeed, although statistics may provide a sense of confidence in the improbability that an event may occur, I have always encountered those so-called quasi-implausible exceptions during the passage into practical applications.

Conversely, medical experimentations on nonhuman primates raise an intense debate from a philosophical viewpoint. First, morality may hinder anyone from conduct medical experimentations on nonhuman primates on the ground that those species are too closely related to humans. In that case, one considers that nonhuman primates have a culture. That implies that one ignores that nonhuman primate proto-cultures do not amalgamates the four essential characteristics of human culture. First, the activities must be learned. Besides, that learning must be active namely transmitted extragenetically and through symbols. That is to say that the communication must not happen thanks to gene transmission and must use objects or words which represent something else. That means, and it is the third feature, that an organism is able to develop abstractions such as generalizations, assumptions or ideas. Finally, an organism must produce objects with the intention to create something new with raw materials. However, nonhuman primate proto-cultures lack at least one of those features.

Second, ethics may allow one to conduct medical experimentations on nonhuman primates on the ground that those species are only vaguely related to humans. For those individuals, because of a religion or a rational view, fauna is divided into two categories of organisms: humans and the others. And, in the in case in point, nonhuman primates belong to the category of the nonhumans. Furthermore, to conduct medical experimentations on that type of organisms, one must presuppose that humans have the indefectible right to impair or kill the nonhuman organisms. But that is a question to be settled with one's own conscience. It may appear cruel to think such a thing. Nevertheless one who would contemplate judging such a stance will undeniably demonstrate ethnocentrism and therefore will lack the necessary cultural relativism required by the scientific method, insofar as one utilizes anthropology and not a religious belief to reflect over that question.

Finally, medical experimentations on nonhuman primates raise controversies about the possibility to employ nonhuman primates as guinea pigs. From an anthropologist viewpoint, I would tend to think that, insofar as nonhuman primates meet the biological requirements for a medical experimentation, those species should be used for securing humans' health. Indeed, I would tend to accept the sacrifice of few nonhuman primates rather than to accept the suffering or death of a human individual. My stance is available insofar as those nonhuman primates originate from reproductions centers and are not taken from their natural habitat.

Apart from biology and philosophy, stands the emotional viewpoint. Indeed, emotions may prevent researchers from conducting medical experimentations on nonhuman primates. For instance, medical research is undertaken on nonhuman primates to discover how the brain of primates functions. That kind of experimentations may require performing trepanations to operate on parts of the brain. Those experiments involve the acceptance to seriously damage experimental subjects. Therefore, researchers who establish relations based on emotions with nonhuman primates may find it difficult to simply see them as test subjects. As far as I am concerned, I have two cats and I cannot envisage harming them even if it could save me.

Medical experimentations on nonhuman primates, whatever they may be, raise several contentious questions ranging from biology to philosophy or emotion. To avoid utilizing nonhuman primates in those experiments, in the present state of our scientific and technical knowledge, alternative experimental subjects may be employed to perform medical experimentations. One solution may be to utilize, as far as practicable, other animals or even plants. One other solution may be to offer people who are sentenced to death or for whom doctors have given up hope the possibility to donate their body to science to serve as living experimental subjects. As regard the latter, however, strong oppositions would arouse. But what about the western pharmaceutical firms which have ever tested their products in Africa or Asia without warning those populations? Thus in 1532, even then, the French writer and physician Rabelais wrote in Pantagruel "Science without conscience is but the ruin of the soul". Consequently, researchers, philosophers, environmental activists, animal defenders, and simple citizen have all their say in this matter and could congregate to exchange their views through symposiums. This seems to be a quite idyllic vision of the world, but the reality of the field stresses the fact that the debate over medical experimentations on living organisms is an enduring one because it is no easy task to find out viable solutions.

EF_Team2 1 / 1,709  
Jun 22, 2007   #2
Greetings, Frederic!

Another excellent essay! I have just a few editing pointers:

Nevertheless, since statistically speaking, that genetic similitude is so noticeable that the chances of dissimilarities in the responses to an experiment might not be very singular. - This is a sentence fragment; take out "since" and it won't be.

and a head that all have [delete "the"] quite similar uses and functions.

Those points prove useful that types of experimentations. - I'm not sure, but I think what you meant was "Those points prove those types of experimentation to be useful."

morality may hinder anyone from conducting medical experimentations on nonhuman primates

one ignores that nonhuman primate proto-cultures do not amalgamate the four essential characteristics of human culture.

Besides, that learning must be active, [add comma] namely, [add comma] transmitted extragenetically and through symbols.

Consequently, researchers, philosophers, environmental activists, animal defenders, and simple citizens all have their say in this matter

Keep up the good work!

Thanks,

Sarah, EssayForum.com


Home / Writing Feedback / To rack their brains to find our answers; Anthropology essay