Among the “hard cases” of captive animal research is the continued use of chimpanzees in harmful experimental science. In a recent article I contend that contemporary animal welfare science and chimpanzee behavioral studies permit, if not require, a reappraisal of the moral significance of chimpanzee dissent from participation in certain experiments. In what follows, I outline my earlier argument, provide a brief survey of some central concepts in pediatric research ethics, and use these to enrich an understanding of chimpanzee dissent useful for research ethics.
1. Not all chimpanzee research is harmful. See Fenton, A. On the need to redress an inadequacy in animal welfare science: Toward an internally coherent framework. Biology and Philosophy 2012;27:73–93.
2. Cohen, J. The endangered lab chimp. Science 2007;315:450–2; VandeBerg, JL, Zola, SM. A unique biomedical resource at risk. Nature 2005;437:30–2; Wadman, M. Chimpanzee research on trial. Nature 2011;474:268–71.
3. Balls, M. Chimpanzee medical experiments: Moral, legal and scientific concerns. Alternatives to Laboratory Animals 1995;23:607–14; Goodall, J. Why is it unethical to use chimpanzees in the laboratory. Alternatives to Laboratory Animals 1995;23(5):615–20; de Waal FBM. Research chimpanzees may get a break. PLoS Biology 2012;10(3):1–4.
4. The Great Ape Project emphasizes interests in not being killed, held in captivity against their will, or subjected to torturous treatment. See Cavalieri, P, Singer, P, eds. The Great Ape Project: Equality Beyond Humanity. London: Fourth Estate Limited; 1993. Alternatively, we could talk in terms of interests not to be subjected to unnecessary pain, stress, and distress or held in conditions that cause profound problematic, atypical behaviors. See note 3, Goodall 1995.
5. See Knight, A. The beginning of the end for chimpanzee experiments? Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine 2008;3(16):1–14.
6. See note 3, Goodall 1995.
7. See note 1, Fenton 2012.
8. See note 3, Balls 1995; Fenton, A. Neuroscience and the problem of other animal minds: Why it may not matter so much for neuroethics. The Monist 2012;95(3):464–87; Hau, J, Schapiro, S. The welfare of non-human primates. In: Kaliste, E, ed. The Welfare of Laboratory Animals. Dordrecht: Springer; 2007: 291–314; see note 5, Knight 2008; see note 2, VandeBerg, Zola 2005.
9. Orlans, FB. Ethical themes of national regulations governing animal experiments: An international perspective. In: Gluck, JP, DiPasquale, T, Orlans, FB, eds. Applied Ethics in Animal Research: Philosophy, Regulation, and Laboratory Applications. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press; 2002:131–47.
10. Farah, M. Neuroethics and the problem of other minds: Implications of neuroscience for the moral status of brain-damaged patients and nonhuman animals. Neuroethics 2008;1:9–18.
11. Allen, C, Fuchs, PN, Shriver, A, Wilson, HD. Deciphering animal pain. In: Aydede, M, ed. Pain: New Essays on Its Nature and the Methodology of Its Study. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press; 2005:351–66; see note 8, Fenton 2012.
12. See note 1, Fenton 2012.
13. See note 1, Fenton 2012.
14. Institute of Medicine (IOM). Chimpanzees in Biomedical and Behavioral Research: Assessing the Necessity. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2011.
15. For references, see note 1, Fenton 2012.
16. As an example, see de Waal FBM. A century of getting to know the chimpanzee. Nature 2005;437:56–9.
17. Assent and/or dissent have also been raised as possibilities for ethical consideration in the context of animal bioethics by David DeGrazia and Rebecca Walker. See DeGrazia, D. Human-animal chimeras: Human dignity, moral status, and species prejudice. Metaphilosophy 2007;38(2–3):309–29; Walker, RL. Human and animal subjects of research: The moral significance of respect versus welfare. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 2006;27:305–31. Though we are clearly in agreement on the power of assent and/or dissent, my resistance to using personhood distinguishes my argument from DeGrazia’s, whereas my detailed use of pediatric research ethics in this article to inspire my account of dissent distinguishes my position from both DeGrazia’s and Walker’s.
18. Burns, JP. Research in children. Critical Care Medicine 2003;31(3):S131–S136; Diekema, DS. Conducting ethical research in pediatrics: A brief historical overview and review of pediatric regulations. The Journal of Pediatrics 2006;149:S3–S11.
19. See note 18, Diekema 2006; Knox, CA, Burkhart, PV. Issues related to children participating in clinical research. Journal of Pediatric Nursing 2007;22(4):310–18.
20. Baylis, F, Downie, J, Kenny, N. Children and decisionmaking in health research. IRB: Ethics and human research 1999;21(4):5–10; Kon, AA. Assent in pediatric research. Pediatrics 2006;117(5):1806–10.
21. See note 18, Diekema 2006.
22. Baylis, F, Downie, J. The limits of altruism and arbitrary age limits. American Journal of Bioethics 2003;3(4):19–21; see note 20, Baylis et al. 1999; see note 18, Diekema 2006.
23. See note 20, Baylis et al. 1999; see note 18, Diekema 2006; see note 20, Kon 2006.
24. See note 20, Kon 2006; Miller, VA, Drotar, D, Kodish, E. Children’s competence for assent and consent: A review of empirical findings. Ethics and Behavior 2004;14(3):255–95.
25. See note 20, Baylis et al. 1999.
26. See note 18, Diekema 2006.
27. See note 22, Baylis, Downie 2003.
28. See note 18, Diekema 2006; see note 20, Kon 2006.
29. For useful critical discussions, see note 18, Diekema 2006; see note 20, Kon 2006; Miller, VA, Nelson, RM. A developmental approach to child assent for nontherapeutic research. The Journal of Pediatrics 2006;149:S25–S30.
30. This observation may perhaps even apply to children as young as five. Meaux, JB, Bell, PL. Balancing recruitment and protection: Children as research subjects. Issues in Comprehensive Pediatric Nursing 2001;24:241–51.
31. See note 18, Diekema 2006; see note 19, Knox, Burkhart 2007; see note 29, Miller, Nelson 2006.
32. See note 20, Baylis et al. 1999; see note 18, Diekema 2006; see note 29, Miller, Nelson 2006.
33. See Brosnan, S. Inequity and prosocial behavior in chimpanzees. In: Lonsdorf, EV, Ross, SR, Matsuzawa, T, eds. The Mind of the Chimpanzee: Ecological and Experimental Perspectives. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press; 2010:282–95; de Waal FBM. Putting the altruism back into altruism: The evolution of empathy. Annual Review of Psychology 2008;59:279–300.
34. Bloomsmith, MA, Else, JG. Behavioral management of chimpanzees in biomedical research facilities: The state of the science. ILAR Journal 2005;46(2):197.
35. See note 18, Diekema 2006.
36. For examples, see note 20, Baylis et al. 1999 and Kon 2006; Leikin S. Minors’ assent, consent, or dissent to medical research. IRB: Ethics and Human Research 1993;15(2):1–7; see note 30, Meaux, Bell 2001.
37. See note 18, Diekema 2006.
38. See note 18, Diekema 2006.
39. Dawkins, MS. The science of animal suffering. Ethology 2008;114:937–45.
40. See note 18, Diekema 2006; see note 19, Knox, Burkhart 2007; see note 30, Meaux, Bell 2001.
41. See note 36, Leikin 1993.
42. Bermond, B. A neuropsychological and evolutionary approach to animal consciousness and animal suffering. In: Armstrong, SJ, Botzler, RG, eds. The Animal Ethics Reader. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge; 2008:99–112; see note 5, Knight 2008.
43. Committee on Recognition and Alleviation of Pain in Laboratory Animals (CRAPLA). Recognition and Alleviation of Pain in Laboratory Animals. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2009.
44. Shriver, A. Minding mammals. Philosophical Psychology 2006;19(4):433–42. For some possible complications, see note 11, Allen et al. 2005; Sufka, K, Weldon, M, Allen, C. The case for animal emotions: Modeling neuropsychiatric disorders. In: Bickle, J, ed. The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Neuroscience. New York: Oxford University Press; 2009:522–36.
45. Bradshaw, GA, Capaldo, T, Lindner, L, Grow, G. Building an inner sanctuary: Complex PTSD in chimpanzees. Journal of Trauma and Disassociation 2008;9(1):9–34; Perlman, JE, Horner, V, Bloomsmith, MA, Lambeth, SP, Schapiro, SJ. Positive reinforcement training, social learning, and chimpanzee welfare. In: Lonsdorf, EV, Ross, SR, Matsuzawa, T, eds. The Mind of the Chimpanzee: Ecological and Experimental Perspectives. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press; 2010:320–31.
46. Huffman, MA. Primate self-medication. In: Campbell, CJ, Fuentes, A, MacKinnon, KC, Bearder, SK, Stumpf, RM, eds. Primates in Perspective. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press; 2011: 563–73.
47. See note 45, Bradshaw et al. 2008; Brüne, M, Brüne-Cohrs, U, McGrew, WC, Preuschoft, S. Psychopathology in great apes: Concepts, treatment options and possible homologies to human psychiatric disorders. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 2006;30:1246–59; Ferdowsian, HR, Durham, DL, Kimwele, C, Kranendonk, G, Otali, E, Akugizibwe, T, et al. . Signs of mood and anxiety disorders in chimpanzees. PLoS One 2011;6(6):1–11.
48. See note 47, Brüne et al. 2006.
49. See note 43, CRAPLA 2009; see note 14, IOM 2011.
50. Osvath, M. Spontaneous planning for future stone throwing by a male chimpanzee. Current Biology 2009;19(5):R190–R191; Osvath, M. Great ape foresight is looking great. Animal Cognition 2010;13:777–81.
51. Martin-Odas, G, Haun, D, Colmenares, F, Call, J. Keeping track of time: Evidence for episodic-like memory in great apes. Animal Cognition 2010;13:331–40.
52. I was visiting a sanctuary for ex-biomedical chimpanzees when some other visitors elicited this reaction.
53. See note 1, Fenton 2012.
54. See note 33, Brosnan 2010; see note 16, de Waal 2005.
55. See note 33, Brosnan 2010; Menzel, EW. A group of young chimpanzees in a 1-acre field: Leadership and communication. In: Byrne, R, Whiten, A, eds. Machiavellian Intelligence: Social Expertise and the Evolution of Intellect in Monkeys, Apes, and Humans. New York: Clarendon Press; 1988:155–9.
56. See note 34, Bloomsmith, Else 2005; Laule, G. Positive reinforcement training for laboratory animals. In: Hubrecht, R, Kirkwood, J, eds. The UFAW Handbook on the Care and Management of Laboratory and Other Research Animals. 8th ed. West Sussex, UK: Blackwell; 2010:206–18.
57. See note 45, Perlman et al. 2010.
58. See note 45, Bradshaw et al. 2008.
59. See note 3, Balls 1995; see note 3, Goodall 1995; see note 45, Bradshaw et al. 2008.
60. See note 34, Bloomsmith, Else 2005; see note 56, Laule 2010; see note 45, Perlman et al. 2010.
61. The discussions in DeGrazia and Walker are helpful here. See note 17.
62. See note 14, IOM 2011; see note 5, Knight 2008.
63. See note 14, IOM 2011.
64. Gagneux, P, Moore, JJ, Varki, A. The ethics of research on great apes. Nature 2005;437:27–9; see note 3, de Waal 2012.
65. I noted this problem in my previous article. See note 1, Fenton 2012.
66. Schuppli, CA, Fraser, D, McDonald, M. Expanding the Three Rs to meet new challenges in humane animal experimentation. Alternatives to Laboratory Animals 2004;32:525–32.
67. Again, I noted this problem in my previous article. See note 1, Fenton 2012.
68. Nelson, RJ, Mandrell, TD. Enrichment and nonhuman primates: “First, do no harm.” ILAR Journal 2005;46(2):171–7.
69. See note 45, Perlman et al. 2010.
70. See note 66, Schuppli et al. 2004.
Thanks to Franҫoise Baylis, Ford Doolittle, audience members at a session of the 2011 Advancing Publicly Engaged Philosophy Conference in Washington, DC, reviewers for the Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, and especially Letitia Meynell, who all helped in their different ways.
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