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Table 1 Results for questions about “Benefits Arguments” to morally justify animal research

From: The ethics of animal research: a survey of the public and scientists in North America

Argument (A)/Counterargument (CA)
  Group Is this a good enough reason to justify using animals in medical research? Do any of the following responses make the argument much less convincing? Of those convinced: proportion who judged the counterargument as persuasive
Yes No Yes No
A1. Animal experimentation benefits humans greatly.a
  Public 698/1270 (55 %) 572/1270 (45 %)    
Med School 140/188 (74 %) 48/188 (26 %)    
CA: If great human benefits justify using animals in medical research, this should also justify using humans in the same medical research.a
  Public    610/1260 (48 %) 650/1260 (52 %) 291/692 (42 %)
Med School    48/188 (26 %) 140/188 (74 %) 25/140 (18 %)
CA: If animals can experience pain and suffering, it remains unclear why we morally may use them in experiments for human benefit.a
  Public    792/1264 (63 %) 472/1264 (37 %) 348/691 (50 %)
Med School    95/188 (51 %) 93/188 (49 %) 60/70 (86 %)
A2: Animal experimentation is necessary for human benefit.a
  Public 621/1246 (50 %) 625/1246 (50 %)    
Med School 126/181 (70 %) 55/181 (30 %)    
CA: More humans would benefit if the money spent on animal experiments was instead devoted to humanitarian aid (for example, in developing countries).
  Public    584/1249 (47 %) 665/1249 (53 %) 226/613 (37 %)
Med School    67/180 (37 %) 113/180 (63 %) 42/126 (33 %)
CA: There are now alternative experimental methods that do not use animals and that allow science to advance.a
  Public    1049/1244 (84 %) 195/1244 (16 %) 482/612 (79 %)
Med School    130/181 (72 %) 51/181 (28 %) 87/126 (69 %)
CA: It is unclear why the statement 'animal experimentation is necessary for human benefits' justifies animal experiments, but the statement 'human experimentation is necessary for human benefits' does not justify the same experiments on humans.a
  Public    667/1238 (54 %) 571/1238 (46 %) 245/612 (40 %)
Med School    62/180 (34 %) 118/180 (66 %) 32/126 (25 %)
A3: There are no alternatives to animal experimentation.a
  Public 507/1240 (41 %) 733/1240 (59 %)    
Med School 98/172 (57 %) 74/172 (43 %)    
CA: Researchers have not looked hard enough for alternatives to animal experimentation. For example, since using animals to test drugs has been required by law, researchers may have assumed that there is no other way.a
  Public    801/1235 (65 %) 434/1235 (35 %) 280/498 (56 %)
Med School    81/171 (47 %) 90/171 (53 %) 38/96 (40 %)
CA: If more effort was devoted to developing alternative research methods that do not use animals, animal experimentation may not be necessary anymore.a
  Public    985/1239 (79 %) 254/1239 (21 %) 352/501 (70 %)
Med School    106/171 (62 %) 65/171 (38 %) 55/96 (57 %)
A4: Humans naturally need to seek knowledge.a
  Public 293/1240 (24 %) 947/1240 (76 %)    
Med School 19/169 (11 %) 150/169 (89 %)    
CA: This can justify almost anything, including harmful experiments on humans against their will, in order to gain knowledge.a
  Public    690/1227 (56 %) 537/1227 (44 %) 127/289 (44 %)
Med School    126/168 (75 %) 42/168 (25 %) 5/19 (26 %)
CA: We have learned a great deal from earthquakes, fires and warfare; but, this does not justify recreating these things in order to gain more knowledge.
  Public    859/1231 (70 %) 371/1231 (30 %) 167/287 (58 %)
Med School    121/168 (72 %) 47/168 (28 %) 10/19 (53 %)
  1. aStatistically significant difference between public and medical students (p < 0.05 after Bonferroni correction). Clinically significant difference between public and medical students (statistically significant, and a clear majority of at least 60 % on opposite sides of the yes/no response option): none