Extrapolating from Laboratory Behavioral Research on Nonhuman Primates Is Unjustified

Journal of Applied Philosophy 37 (4):628-645 (2020)
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Abstract

Conducting research on animals is supposed to be valuable because it provides information on how human mechanisms work. But for the use of animal models to be ethically justified, it must be epistemically justified. The inference from an observation about an animal model to a conclusion about humans must be warranted for the use of animals to be moral. When researchers infer from animals to humans, it’s an extrapolation. Often non-human primates are used as animal models in laboratory behavioral research. The target populations are humans and other non-human primates. I argue that the epistemology of extrapolation renders the use of non-human primates in laboratory behavioral research unreliable. If the model is relevantly similar to the target, then the experimental conditions introduce confounding variables. If the model is not relevantly similar to the target, then the observations of the model cannot be extrapolated to the target. Since using non-human primates in as animal models in laboratory behavioral research is not epistemically justified, using them as animal models in laboratory behavioral research is not ethically justified.

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Parker Crutchfield
Western Michigan University School Of Medicine

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