The basic principle of utilitarianism is that decisions should maximize utility even though the maximum utility is not always best for everyone concerned. The appeal of utilitarianism to animal rights supporters is egalitarianism in which discrimination based on nonhuman status is disallowed. Thus, animals should not be made to suffer because it is morally wrong to make fellow human beings suffer.
Research animals probably experience more suffering than human beings (Rollin, 1989). Bernard Rollin cites ethical research on pain: "Understanding the cause of an unpleasant sensation diminishes its severity . . . by the same token, not understanding its cause can increase its severity" (p. 60). Animals cannot fathom the cause of their pain, nor do they have knowledge of when cessation is likely to occur. Further, all living beings equate pain with danger or injury and respond with a desire to escape. It is logical to assume that research animals, restrained in their ability to escape, experience significant emotional distress as well as physical suffering during experimentation. The Association of Veterinary Teachers and Research Workers classifies the suffering of laboratory animals on a scale of increasing severity that ranges from physiological stress (e.g., raised heartbeat), to overstress (diversion