The Monkey Question
The use of monkeys in research represents a particular area of controversy. The chapter offers a critique of arguments typically offered in public debate. I note the weaknesses of retrospective thinking, the erroneous appeal to necessity, and the unfounded bias against working with human volunteers and rodents. The issues are illustrated via three scientific paradigms for which there exist valid alternatives: the development of a neural control system for robotic arm movement, the study of perceptual decision-making, and the study of the cognitive mechanisms underlying cocaine addiction and relapse. The three paradigms allow us to reflect on the opportunity cost neglect by individual researchers. Compromised by a conflict of interest, some researchers put forth misguided claims insisting on the irreplaceability of their preferred animal model.
KeywordsAnimal Ethics Nonhuman primate Replacement Opportunity cost Conflict of interest
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