Increasingly, bioethicists defend informed consent as a safeguard for trust in caretakers and medical institutions. This paper discusses an ‘ideal type’ of that move. What I call the trust-promotion argument for informed consent states: 1. Social trust, especially trust in caretakers and medical institutions, is necessary so that, for example, people seek medical advice, comply with it, and participate in medical research. 2. Therefore, it is usually wrong to jeopardise that trust.3. Coercion, deception, manipulation and other violations of standard informed (...) consent requirements seriously jeopardise that trust. 4. Thus, standard informed consent requirements are justified.This article describes the initial promise of this argument, then identifies challenges to it. As I show, the value of trust fails to account for some commonsense intuitions about informed consent. We should revise the argument, commonsense morality, or both. (shrink)
Michael Bloomberg's three terms in New York City's mayoral office are coming to a close. His model of governance for public health influenced cities and governments around the world. What should we make of that model? This essay introduces a symposium in which ethicists Sarah Conly, Roger Brownsword and Alex Rajczi discuss that legacy.
Patients’ medical conditions can result from their own avoidable risk taking. Some lung diseases result from avoidable smoking and some traffic accidents result from victims’ reckless driving. Although in many nonmedical areas we hold people responsible for taking risks they could avoid, it is normally harsh and inappropriate to deny patients care because they risked needing it. Why? A popular account is that protecting everyone’s "decent minimum," their basic needs, matters more than the benefits of holding people accountable. This account (...) is deficient. Protecting the decent minimum is not always served by offering noncompliant patients either nonbasic or basic care. Nor is protecting that minimum always served by unconditional medical care better than by nonmedical interventions. To interpret the decent minimum in democratic terms is a futile response to these challenges. Ideas for new accounts are suggested. (shrink)
In many countries worldwide, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, a shortage of physicians limits the provision of lifesaving interventions. One existing strategy to increase the number of physicians in areas of critical shortage is conditioning medical school scholarships on a precommitment to work in medically underserved areas later. Current practice is usually to demand only one year of service for each year of funded studies. We show the effectiveness of scholarships conditional on such precommitment for increasing physician supplies in underserved areas. (...) Then we defend these scholarships against ethical worries that they constitute slavery contracts; rely on involuntary, biased, or unauthorized early consent by a young signatory; put excessive strains on signed commitments; give rise to domination; and raise suspicion of slavery contracts. Importantly, we find that scholarships involving far longer commitment than current practice allows would also withstand these worries. Policymakers should consider introducing conditional scholarships, including long-term versions, as a means to increasing the supply of physicians to medically underserved areas. (shrink)
The majority of deaths due to tobacco in the twenty-first century will occur in the developing world, where over 80% of current tobacco users live. In November 2010 guidelines were adopted for implementing Article 14 of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The guidelines call on all countries to promote tobacco treatment programs. Nevertheless, some experts argue for a strict focus, at least in developing countries, on population-based measures such as taxes and indoor air laws, which (...) they consider more cost-effective than individual treatment. In this article we defend tobacco dependence treatment in developing countries. First, these experts understate the comparative cost-effectiveness of individual treatment programs. Second, they overlook numerous ethical considerations beyond cost-effectiveness that support individual tobacco treatment in developing countries. We conclude that the strict population-based focus in developing country tobacco control advocated by some experts is misplaced. In general, developing nations should combine population-based measures and individual tobacco treatment programs. (shrink)
We analyse three moral dilemmas involving resource allocation in care for HIV-positive patients. Ole Norheim and Kjell Arne Johansson have argued that these cases reveal a tension between egalitarian concerns and concerns for better population health. We argue, by contrast, that these cases reveal a tension between, on the one hand, a concern for equal *chances*, and, on the other hand, both a concern for better health and an egalitarian concern for equal *outcomes*. We conclude that, in these cases, there (...) is much less tension than Norheim and Johansson claim between egalitarian concerns and concerns for better population health. (shrink)
Commentators on the ethics of translational research find it morally problematic. Types of translational research are said to involve questionable benefits, special risks, additional barriers to informed consent, and severe conflicts of interest. Translational research conducted on the global poor is thought to exploit them and increase international disparities. Some commentators support especially stringent ethical review. However, such concerns are grounded only in pre-approval translational research (now called T1 ). Whether or not T1 has these features, translational research beyond approval (...) ( T2 : phase IV, health services, and implementation research) is unlikely to and, when conducted on the global poor, may support development. Therefore, insofar as T1 is morally problematic, and no independent objections to T2 exist, the ethics of translational research is diverse: while some translational research is problematic, some is not. Funding and oversight should reflect this diversity, and T2 should be encouraged, particularly when conducted among the global poor. (shrink)
Next SectionAccess to medicines, vaccination and care in resource-poor settings is threatened by the emigration of physicians and other health workers. In entire regions of the developing world, low physician density exacerbates child and maternal mortality and hinders treatment of HIV/AIDS. This article invites philosophers to help identify ethical and effective responses to medical brain drain. It reviews existing proposals and their limitations. It makes a case that, in resource-poor countries, ’locally relevant medical training’—teaching primarily locally endemic diseases and practice (...) in scarcity conditions, training in rural communities and admitting rural students preferentially—could help improve retention. Locally relevant training would arguably diminish medical brain drain in five ways. It would (i) make graduates less attractive for Western employers, (ii) align graduates’ expectations with actual practice, diminishing ‘burn-out’, (iii) enhance the professional prestige of local practice, (iv) hold rotations in, and recruit applicants from, rural areas, which is known to improve retention there, and (v) create local career development options that attract practitioners to stay. Such educational reform may raise worries about poor-quality care, breach of the freedom of education and occupation, breach of the freedom of movement, unequal distribution of opportunities among students, hypocrisy and resistance from influential actors. We address these worries. (shrink)
This article argues that, in its standard formulation, luck-egalitarianism is false. In particular, I show that disadvantages that result from perfectly free choice can constitute egalitarian injustice. I also propose a modified formulation of luck-egalitarianism that would withstand my criticism. One merit of the modification is that it helps us to reconcile widespread intuitions about distributive justice with equally widespread intuitions about punitive justice.
The article begins by reconstructing the just distribution of the social bases of self-respect, a principle of justice that is covert in Rawls’s writing. I argue that, for Rawls, justice mandates that each social basis for self-respect be equalized (and, as a second priority, maximized). Curiously, for Rawls, that principle ranks higher than Rawls’s two more famous principles of justice - equal liberty and the difference principle. I then recall Rawls’s well-known confusion between self-respect and another form of self-appraisal, namely, (...) confidence in one’s determinate plans and capacities. Correcting that confusion forces Rawls to accept objectionable and illiberal politics. Surprisingly, a consistent Rawls must endorse absolute economic equality, deny liberty any priority whatsoever, or sponsor still other illiberal political views - evidence of a flaw in the ethical basis of Rawls’s politics. -/- Key Words: self-respect • self-esteem • distributive justice • Rawls • maximin • primary goods • liberty • equality • lexicographical order. (shrink)