Publication Details

Degeling, C. & Johnson, J. (2009). Lost in Translation: Gaps in Reasoning for Primate Stroke. The American Journal of Bioethics, 9 (5), 23-25.


Sughrue and colleagues' target article "Bioethical considerations in translational research: Primate stroke" (2009) are to be commended for seeking to address a large gap in current bioethical discourse. The ethics of experimentation on nonhuman animals seems to have fallen between the cracks of the recent debates between clinical and research practitioners, ethicists and regulators. While happy to see that other parties acknowledge that this question is poorly dealt with and the issue remains far from closed, we have identified a number of problems with the argument contained in the article. In the first instance, the authors fail to clarify the sense in which they understand nonhuman animals as models for humans. Secondly, they ignore an important ethical argument, which bears directly on the case of stroke research put by philosophers whose views they otherwise apparently commend. And finally, throughout the article they conflate epistemological and ethical justifications for research without adequately justifying the assumptions that underpin either position. The following commentary will outline each of these criticisms, before offering suggestions as to how they may be met.



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