Bioethics, (Funding) Priorities, and the Perpetuation of Injustice

American Journal of Bioethics 22 (1):6-13 (2022)
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Abstract

If funding allocation is an indicator of a field’s priorities, then the priorities of the field of bioethics are misaligned because they perpetuate injustice. Social justice mandates priority for the factors that drive systematic disadvantage, which tend not to be the areas supported by funding within academic bioethics. Current funding priorities violate social justice by overemphasizing technologies that aim to enhance the human condition without addressing underlying structural inequalities grounded in racism, and by deemphasizing areas of inquiry most frequently pursued by Scholars of Color. This lack of attention to upstream determinants of health in bioethics research perpetuates a gap in the resources needed to understand the experiences of communities disproportionately experiencing poor health, which is itself a form of epistemic injustice. Both social and epistemic injustices are apparent in the impact of these funding priorities on people of color, both in the public and in the bioethics community.

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