Against the inalienable right to withdraw from research

Bioethics 22 (7):370-378 (2008)
In this paper I argue, against the current consensus, that the right to withdraw from research is sometimes alienable. In other words, research subjects are sometimes morally permitted to waive their right to withdraw. The argument proceeds in three major steps. In the first step, I argue that rights typically should be presumed alienable, both because that is not illegitimately coercive and because the general paternalistic motivation for keeping them inalienable is untenable. In the second step of the argument, I consider three special characteristics of the right to withdraw, first that its waiver might be exploitative, second that research involves intimate bodily access, and third that it is irreversible. I argue that none of these characteristics justify an inalienable right to withdraw. In the third step, I examine four considerations often taken to justify various other allegedly inalienable rights: concerns about treating yourself merely as a means as might be the case in suicide, concerns about revoking all your future freedoms in slavery contracts, the resolution of coordination problems, and public interest. I argue that the motivations involved in these four types of situations do not apply to the right to withdraw from research.
Keywords rights  withdraw  research  inalienable  subject  ethics  alienable
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/j.1467-8519.2008.00666.x
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 16,667
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

View all 7 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Terrance McConnell (2010). The Inalienable Right to Withdraw From Research. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics 38 (4):840-846.
Terrance McConnell (2010). The Inalienable Right to Withdraw From Research. Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 38 (4):840-846.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

13 ( #194,523 of 1,726,249 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

2 ( #289,836 of 1,726,249 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.