Tag: consent

Andrew Fenton, PhD

Some conscientious animal researchers explicitly advocate securing the cooperation of cognitively and socially complex animals when using them in research (e.g., Berns et al 2012; Matsuzawa 2006). In 2013, the NIH officially accepted most of the recommendations of an independent advisory council regarding chimpanzees used in NIH-funded research. This included only using acquiescent chimpanzees in comparative genomic and behavioral research (Altevogt et al 2011). What’s more, there is good evidence that cooperative animals make for less stressed out research subjects, and stress is a known confounder in animal research (Coleman 2010).

There is no morally significant difference between the dogs discussed by Berns et al, or the chimpanzees discussed by Matsuzawa and Altevogt et al, and such nonhuman primates as baboons, macaques, or marmosets. The NIH should ensure that, moving forward, the cooperation of nonhuman primates is required when using them in NIH-funded research.

Altevogt, B.M., Pankevich, D.E., Shelton-Davenport, M.K., and Kahn, J.P. Chimpanzees in biomedical and behavioral research: assessing the necessity. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press, 2011.
Berns, G.S., Brooks, A.M., and Spivak, M. Functional MRI in Awake Unrestrained Dogs. PloS One 2012; 7(5): 1-7.
Coleman, K. Caring for Nonhuman Primates in Biomedical Research Facilities: Scientific, Moral and Emotional Considerations. American Journal of Primatology 2010; 71: 1-6.
Matsuzawa, T. Sociocognitive Development in Chimpanzees: A Synthesis of Laboratory Work and Fieldwork. In Cognitive Development in Chimpanzees. Matsuzawa, T., Tomonaga, M., and Tanaka, M., eds. Tokyo: Springer-Verlag Tokyo, 2006: 3-33.


Nathan Nobis, PhD

I encourage you to restrict the use of primates in harmful, non-therapeutic biomedical research for the reasons that harmful, non-therapeutic biomedical research shouldn’t be allowed on human beings: it is harmful to the subject of the research, it is not in their benefit – it is an attempt to “use” one for the potential benefit of another, they do not and would not consent to it, and we would not agree to it, if we saw from their perspectives. In short, every powerful reason to not allow harmful experimentation on non-consenting human beings also applies to non-human primates. Given that, research on them should , at least, be seriously restricted or, ideally, outright banned, for ethical reasons.

Associate Professor of Philosophy, Morehouse College