Two decades have passed since the first attempts were made to establish systematic ethical review of human research in the Baltic States. Legally and institutionally much has changed. In this paper we provide an historical and structural overview of ethical review of human research and identify some problems related to the role of ethical review in establishing quality research environment in these countries. Problems connected to (a) public availability of information, (b) management of conflicts of interest, (c) REC composition and (...) motivation of REC members, and (d) differing levels of stringency of ethical review for different types of studies, are identified. Recommendations are made to strengthen cooperation among the Baltic RECs. (shrink)
We analyse the system of ethical review of human research in the Baltic States by introducing the principle of equivalent stringency of ethical review, that is, research projects imposing equal risks and inconveniences on research participants should be subjected to equally stringent review procedures. We examine several examples of non-equivalence or asymmetry in the system of ethical review of human research: (1) the asymmetry between rather strict regulations of clinical drug trials and relatively weaker regulations of other types of clinical (...) biomedical research and (2) gaps in ethical review in the area of non-biomedical human research where some sensitive research projects are not reviewed by research ethics committees at all. We conclude that non-equivalent stringency of ethical review is at least partly linked to the differences in scope and binding character of various international legal instruments that have been shaping the system of ethical review in the Baltic States. Therefore, the Baltic example could also serve as an object lesson to other European countries which might be experiencing similar problems. (shrink)
In this article I introduce a certain kind of anti-realist account of what makes a property essential to an object and defend it against likely objections. This account, which I call a ‘conferralist’ account, shares some of the attractive features of other anti-realist accounts, such as conventionalism and expressivism, but I believe, not their respective drawbacks.
Social construction theorists face a certain challenge to the effect that they confuse the epistemic and the metaphysical: surely our conceptions of something are influenced by social practices, but that doesn't show that the nature of the thing in question is so influenced. In this paper I take up this challenge and offer a general framework to support the claim that a human kind is socially constructed, when this is understood as a metaphysical claim and as a part of a (...) social constructionist debunking project. I give reasons for thinking that a conferralist framework is better equipped to capture the social constructionist intuition than rival accounts of social properties, such as a constitution account and a response-dependence account, and that this framework helps to diagnose what is at stake in the debate between the social constructionists and their opponents. The conferralist framework offered here should be welcomed by social constructionists looking for firm foundations for their claims, and for anyone else interested in the debate over the social construction of human kinds. (shrink)