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Journal Article Critique “Discussing animal rights and animal research in the classroom” by Harold A. Herzog

Journal Article Critique “Discussing animal rights and animal research in the classroom” by Harold A. Herzog

The article “Discussing animal rights and animal research in the classroom” by Harold A. Herzog examines the question of using animals in research. Herzog is concerned about the question of animal rights and if it is ethical to use animals in research. The research question is whether it is ethical or right to use animals in biomedical or behavioral research. Herzog begins by reviewing two philosophical positions that are associated with various animal activists, and this he does to stimulate a discussion in the classroom about the ethicality of using animals in research. These two philosophical positions are the Utilitarian argument and the Rights argument. According to the utilitarians, there are no species with more importance and that there should be equal consideration of animal interests (Herzog, 1990: 90). The Rights argument is based on animals, just like humans, should have their rights preserved. The article is primarily based on these two arguments, which are against the use of animals in research.

Herzog’s article relies on numerous past studies

Herzog’s article relies on numerous past studies completed over the last decades to act as evidence for claims made. These past studies are referenced throughout the article as Herzog attempts to explore the topic of the use of animals in research. The references used are of high quality as some are studies completed by researchers renowned for their arguments on the subject of animal rights. Additionally, Herzog relies on a broad range of sources to inform the article, majorly books and articles. The article uses an innovative methodology. Instead of conducting a study that involves the application of specific research methodologies, Herzog focuses on his students to explore the discussion about the ethicality of using animals in research. Therefore, he allows the students to role-play as an ACUC (Animal Care and Use Committee). Herzog (1990: 91) asks the students to make decisions on four research proposals regarding animal use in research. To do this, Herzog divides 150 students from five classes into groups comprising of 5-7 students and asks each group to decide on each of the proposals presented before them as ACUC. Upon every decision, each group is free to discuss with the rest of the class and present its rationale. According to Herzog (1990: 91), these students must know that the proposals are based on real situations. Additionally, the end of the group exercise was followed by individual anonymous evaluations of the whole assignment about the necessity of using it in future. Therefore, the methodology of the article was in the form of a class discussion where Herzog got an opportunity to examine the thoughts of his students on the topic.

The study’s results were in the form of the responses provided by the students anonymously after the group discussion of the four proposals. According to Herzog (1990: 93), most of the responses provided by the students regarding the exercise were positive as they recommended it. Only two students had negative responses regarding the exercise. He notes that most of the students commended the exercise as valuable as it promoted the development of thoughts on the topic. It is evident that in the discussion of the study, Herzog tried to be neutral as he explains how the exercises he does with his classes are vital in understanding moral judgments as they involve two sides. However, it is typical for arguments about the use of animals in research to be based on these animals’ intelligence, cuteness, and human resemblance. Herzog believes that philosophers and psychologists have good arguments regarding the wellbeing of animals. Regarding prospects, he states that the argument on the research topic will likely continue (Herzog, 1990: 93), and it will be necessary for the two sides to present substantial evidence to back up their arguments.

Use of sources

The use of sources such as books and articles from peer-reviewed journals makes the study valid and highly reliable. Most of the references are works of people that are known for significant contributions to the topic of animal research. Also, most of these sources are relevant to the topic. While the study does not involve the obvious study designs, its use of an innovative methodology makes it interesting. The use of a class discussion reveals how real-life debates on the topic can be as people present different ideas.


Herzog, H.A. (1990). Discussing animal rights and animal research in the classroom. Teaching of Psychology, 17(2), 90-94. doi:10.1207/s15328023top1702_3

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By Hanna Robinson

Hanna has won numerous writing awards. She specializes in academic writing, copywriting, business plans and resumes. After graduating from the Comosun College's journalism program, she went on to work at community newspapers throughout Atlantic Canada, before embarking on her freelancing journey.

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