Evaluating the Capacity of Theories of Justice to Serve as a Justice Framework for International Clinical Research

American Journal of Bioethics 12 (11):30-41 (2012)
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Abstract

This article investigates whether or not theories of justice from political philosophy, first, support the position that health research should contribute to justice in global health, and second, provide guidance about what is owed by international clinical research (ICR) actors to parties in low- and middle-income countries. Four theories?John Rawls's theory of justice, the rights-based cosmopolitan theories of Thomas Pogge and Henry Shue, and Jennifer Ruger's health capability paradigm?are evaluated. The article shows that three of the four theories require the conduct of health research for justice in global health. The theories help identify the ends of justice to which ICR is to contribute, but they cannot tell us how to organize ICR to promote these ends. Aside from Ruger's health capability paradigm, the theories also lack an allocative principle for assigning specific duties to specific actors. This creates difficulties for establishing obligations for certain types of ICR actors

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