In this paper, we defend the ethics of clinical research against the charge of paternalism. We do so not by denying that the ethics of clinical research is paternalistic, but rather by defending the legitimacy of paternalism in this context. Our aim is not to defend any particular set of paternalistic restrictions, but rather to make a general case for the permissibility of paternalistic restrictions in this context. Specifically, we argue that there is no basic liberty-right to participate in clinical (...) research and that considerations of distributive fairness justify some paternalistic protections of research subjects. (shrink)
: Some commentators have recently proposed that "clinical equipoise," although widely accepted, is not necessary for morally acceptable research on human subjects. If this concept is rejected, however, we may find that trials not in the best medical interests of their subjects--bad deal trials--could be justified. To avoid exploiting participants, we must find a way to distribute the risks fairly, even if it means embracing radical changes in the way clinical research is conducted.
In recent years, a number of writers have proposed voluntary stopping of eating and drinking as an alternative to physician-assisted suicide. This paper calls attention to and discusses some of the ethical complications that surround the practice of voluntary stopping of eating and drinking. The paper argues that voluntary stopping of eating and drinking raises very difficult ethical questions. These questions center on the moral responsibility of clinicians who care for the terminally ill as well as the nature and limits (...) of the authority they exercise over them. (shrink)
Recent years have witnessed a growing concern that terminally illpatients are needlessly suffering in the dying process. This has ledto demands that physicians become more attentive in the assessment ofsuffering and that they treat their patients as `whole persons.'' Forthe most part, these demands have not fallen on deaf ears. It is nowwidely accepted that the relief of suffering is one of the fundamentalgoals of medicine. Without question this is a positive development.However, while the importance of treating suffering has generally (...) beenacknowledged, insufficient attention has been paid to the question ofwhether different types of terminal suffering require differnt responsesfrom health care professionals. In this paper we introduce a distinctionbetween two types of suffering likely to be present at the end of life,and we argue that physicians must distinguish between these types if theyare to respond appropriately to the suffering of their terminally illpatients. After introducing this distinction and explaining its basis,we further argue that the distinction informs a (novel) principle ofproportionality, one that should guide physicians in balancing theircompeting obligations in responding to terminal suffering. As weexplain, this principle is justified by reference to the intereststerminally ill patients have in restoration, as well as in therelief of suffering, at the end of life. (shrink)
We are currently in the midst of a revival of interest in thevirtues. A number of contemporary moral philosophers havedefended a virtue-based approach to ethics. But does thisrenewal of interest in the virtues have much to contributeto medical ethics and medical practice? This paper criticallydiscusses this question. It considers and rejects a number ofimportant arguments that purport to establish the significanceof the virtues for medical practice. Against these arguments,the paper seeks to show that while the virtues have a genuinerole to (...) play in medical ethics, it is a limited role, one thatis subordinate to the role that other moral concepts such asrules and principles play. (shrink)
: "Clinical pragmatism" is an important new method of moral problem solving in clinical practice. This method draws on the pragmatic philosophy of John Dewey and recommends an experimental approach to solving moral problems in clinical practice. Although the method may shed some light on how clinicians and their patients ought to interact when moral problems are at hand, it nonetheless is deficient in a number of respects. Clinical pragmatism fails to explain adequately how moral problems can be solved experimentally, (...) it underestimates the relevance and importance of judgment in clinical ethics, and it presents a questionable account of the role that moral principles should play in moral problem solving. (shrink)