Run the experiment, publish the study, close the sale: Commercialized biomedical research

De Ethica 2 (3):5-21 (2016)
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Business models for biomedical research prescribe decentralization due to market selection pressures. I argue that decentralized biomedical research does not match four normative philosophical models of the role of values in science. Non-epistemic values affect the internal stages of for-profit biomedical science. Publication planning, effected by Contract Research Organizations, inhibits mechanisms for transformative criticism. The structure of contracted research precludes attribution of responsibility for foreseeable harm resulting from methodological choices. The effectiveness of business strategies leads to overrepresentation of profit values versus the values of the general public. These disconnects in respect to the proper role of values in science results from structural issues ultimately linked to the distinct goals of business versus applied science, and so it seems likely that disconnects will also be found in other dimensions of attempts to combine business and science. The volume and integration in the publishing community of decentralized biomedical research imply that the entire community of biomedical research science cannot match the normative criteria of community-focused models of values in science. Several proposals for changing research funding structure might successfully relieve market pressures that drive decentralization.



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Aleta Quinn
University of Idaho

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