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The Emotional Appeal of "Some Thoughts on the Exploitation of Non-Human Animals"

In her essay, "Some Thoughts on the Exploitation of Non-Human Animals," Jane Goodall uses both the rational appeal and the emotional appeal; however, the emotion used is so strong that it overwhelms the reason. This dominance is shown in three main ways: her use of emotionally-charged language, her use of weak arguments, and her fallacious reasoning.

The first way in which Goodall reveals her emotions is through her choice of language. She uses descriptive words in order to show her readers exactly how cruel she thinks it is to use animals for research. For example, Goodall asks this question: "How can we, the citizens of civilized, western countries, tolerate laboratories which--from the point of view of animal inmates--are not unlike concentration camps?" (273). The use of such words as "inmates" and "concentration camps" gives a person the idea that animals are kept like harmfully-treated prisoners, just as the Jews were during the Holocaust. This question, with its dramatic connotations, clearly illustrates how Goodall, through her choice of words, seeks to create a negative emotional attitude toward using animals in research. Because she chooses such highly emotional words, the focus of the reader switches from looking for rational arguments to support Goodall's thesis to getting wrapped up in the emotions of the issue.

A second way in which emotion dominates Goodall's essay is that her arguments are very weak. There are two main examples in her essay that illustrate this point. Both focus on the same idea; Goodall gives no grounds, warrant, or backing for her support to her thesis. In the first example, she says that "thanks to a growing number of studies into the nature and mechanisms of animals' perceptions and intelligence . . ." most people now realize that animals experience pain and other feelings (273). Nowhere in this statement does Goodall tell her readers who did the studies or when the studies were done, but she refers to these "studies" indirectly several times throughout her essay. For example, she says that students are taught that it is all right, as long as there is scientific benefit, to practice "what, from the point of view of the animals, would certainly qualify as torture" (274). Here, Goodall is referring to the "studies" by saying that the animals can feel pain and are tortured. Again, because this statement is a reference to the "studies," it does not have sufficient grounds, warrant, or backing to make it a strong argument. The two previous examples also show that Goodall contradicts herself. The thesis of her essay is that animals should not be used in scientific testing, yet she praises the studies that were performed on animals to see if they experience pain. It certainly does not seem logical that an individual who is so strongly against testing on animals would give credit to such a practice. Her contradictions and the lack of support for her arguments are direct results of the use of too much emotion.

A final way in which Goodall's emotion overwhelms her reason is through her commission of fallacies. There are two main types of fallacies in her essay: ad hominem and begging the question. Goodall's use of the ad hominem argument is evident when she says that only a few scientists are willing to improve the living conditions of laboratory animals because of the cost involved. She criticizes scientists unwilling to pay for improving these conditions by saying that "the cost of building new cages and instigating better care-giving programs would be considerable, but negligible, I am assured, when compared with the cost of sophisticated equipment used by research scientists today" (275). This statement shows that Goodall is attacking the scientists for not wanting to spend their money on improvements and not the actual issue of improvement itself. Therefore, this statement is an ad hominem fallacy. The second kind of fallacy that Goodall uses, begging the question, is seen in two statements. First, she says that "a good many projects . . . are of absolutely no value to human (or animal) health" (273). This statement is clearly debatable because scientists and many other people would say that research experiments are quite beneficial to human and animal health. This statement is thus an example of the fallacy called begging the question, stating a premise as if it were a conclusion. The second example of this kind comes when Goodall states that "many experiments simply duplicate previous experiments" (273). Goodall is implying, by using the word "simply," that duplicating experiments is also of no value. This implication is debatable because scientists would say that duplication is necessary in order to make sure that the results or effects of an experiment are as accurate as possible. Therefore, this statement is also an example of begging the question. All of the previous examples of fallacies show that, because Goodall is so emotionally involved in this issue, she tends to get off track and ends up using fallacies which create weakened arguments in support of her claim.

To conclude, Goodall's essay is very much dominated by emotion, which has left little room for strong argumentation. The overwhelming emotion can be seen in the use of extremely visual words, weak arguments, and fallacies. Overall, Goodall's argument could have used a little less of the emotional appeal and more of the rational appeal.

--Amy Cain

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