A while back, I was reading in a bookstore and I came across an interesting article discussing the use of gas chambers to execute animals. One author stated that; There is nothing unethical about killing pigs in gas chambers.” Of course, I had to get my facts straight before I said that out loud. Therefore, I’ll give you the short version of the answer and leave you to make up your own mind.
First of all, let’s look at this from the standpoint of philosophy. Those who believe that the use of a chamber to execute animals is immoral are, well, anti-christs. Those who support the use of such a chamber are Christians, or at least they tend to base their arguments on that point of view. The problem is that these two groups seem to be at odds when it comes to the issue of capital punishment and the death penalty. How can that be?
The argument of those who believe there is nothing unethical about killing pigs in a chamber seems to rest mainly on the argument that the chamber must be built according to safety standards set forth by the International Organization for Standardization (IOS). The claim is that such a chamber would indeed be safe for the animals being killed inside. The problem with this claim is that it is based on a fairy tale and reality that simply don’t exist. While it is true that the chamber must be built to the highest safety standards possible, what does this have to do with morality? The answer is that there is nothing unethical about killing pigs in a chamber, if that chamber is appropriately constructed.
Those who argue against the idea that there is anything unethical about killing pigs in a gas chamber point out that we are talking about using animal resources here. The contention is that once we kill an animal to use as a laboratory subject, then we are just asking for trouble. It is argued that it is not just the killing, but the method of killing is inherently wrong and may even constitute animal cruelty. It goes on to say that as much as we would want to use certain animal resources responsibly, it is not possible to do so ethically or morally.
The real problem, and the reason why there is nothing unethical about killing pigs in a gas chamber, is the fact that such a chamber must be legally installed in order to use the animals for research purposes. If it were possible to get around the legal requirement by building the chamber in an underground chamber, then that would also be acceptable, however that would subject scientists to animal cruelty. It would be a violation of scientific integrity to use a gas chamber in such a way.
However, if the chamber must be installed above ground, then the pig cannot feel the gas. Therefore, there is nothing unethical about killing pigs in a gas chamber. If the chamber must be installed underground to kill the pigs, then again there is nothing unethical about it. We should all just be glad that science has finally come up with an answer to the age-old question of how can you kill a pig without it feeling a thing.