BackgroundPromoting the social value of global health research undertaken in resource poor settings has become a key concern in global research ethics. The consideration for benefit sharing, which concerns the elucidation of what if anything, is owed to participants, their communities and host nations that take part in such research, and the obligations of researchers involved, is one of the main strategies used for promoting social value of research. In the last decade however, there has been intense debate within academic (...) bioethics literature seeking to define the benefits, the beneficiaries, and the scope of obligations for providing these benefits. Although this debate may be indicative of willingness at the international level to engage with the responsibilities of researchers involved in global health research, it remains unclear which forms of benefits or beneficiaries should be considered. International and local research ethics guidelines are reviewed here to delineate the guidance they provide.MethodsWe reviewed documents selected from the international compilation of research ethics guidelines by the Office for Human Research Protections under the US Department of Health and Human Services.ResultsAccess to interventions being researched, the provision of unavailable health care, capacity building for individuals and institutions, support to health care systems and access to medical and public health interventions proven effective, are the commonly recommended forms of benefits. The beneficiaries are volunteers, disease or illness affected communities and the population in general. Interestingly however, there is a divide between "global opinion" and the views of particular countries within resource poor settings as made explicit by differences in emphasis regarding the potential benefits and the beneficiaries.ConclusionAlthough in theory benefit sharing is widely accepted as one of the means for promoting the social value of international collaborative health research, there is less agreement amongst major guidelines on the specific responsibilities of researchers over what is ethical in promoting the social value of research. Lack of consensus might have practical implications for efforts aimed at enhancing the social value of global health research undertaken in resource poor settings. Further developments in global research ethics require more reflection, paying attention to the practical realities of implementing the ethical principles in real world context. (shrink)
BackgroundThe concept of benefit sharing to enhance the social value of global health research in resource poor settings is now a key strategy for addressing moral issues of relevance to individuals, communities and host countries in resource poor settings when they participate in international collaborative health research.The influence of benefit sharing framework on the conduct of collaborative health research is for instance evidenced by the number of publications and research ethics guidelines that require prior engagement between stakeholders to determine the (...) social value of research to the host communities. While such efforts as the production of international guidance on how to promote the social value of research through such strategies as benefit sharing have been made, the extent to which these ideas and guidelines have been absorbed by those engaged in global health research especially in resource poor settings remains unclear. We examine this awareness among stakeholders involved in health related research in Kenya.MethodsWe conducted in-depth interviews with key informants drawn from within the broader health research system in Kenya including researchers from the mainstream health research institutions, networks and universities, teaching hospitals, policy makers, institutional review boards, civil society organisations and community representative groups.ResultsOur study suggests that although people have a sense of justice and the moral aspects of research, this was not articulated in terms used in the literature and the guidelines on the ethics of global health research.ConclusionThis study demonstrates that while in theory several efforts can be made to address the moral issues of concern to research participants and their communities in resource poor settings, quick fixes such as benefit sharing are not going to be straightforward. We suggest a need to pay closer attention to the processes through which ethical principles are enacted in practice and distil lessons on how best to involve individuals and communities in promoting ethical conduct of global health research in resource poor settings. (shrink)
The application of evolutionary ideas to socioeconomic systems has been an increasingly prominent theme in the work of Friedrich Hayek, and the motif has become dominant in his recent book. In an earlier issue of this journal, Viktor Vanberg raises two substantive criticisms of Friedrich Hayek' theory of cultural evolution that invoke some important questions concerning use of the evolutionary analogy in social science.
Background Increase in global health research undertaken in resource poor settings in the last decade though a positive development has raised ethical concerns relating to potential for exploitation. Some of the suggested strategies to address these concerns include calls for providing universal standards of care, reasonable availability of proven interventions and more recently, promoting the overall social value of research especially in clinical research. Promoting the social value of research has been closely associated with providing fair benefits to various stakeholders (...) involved in research. The debate over what constitutes fair benefits; whether those that addresses micro level issues of justice or those focusing on the key determinants of health at the macro level has continued. This debate has however not benefited from empirical work on what stakeholders consider fair benefits. This study explores practical experiences of stakeholders involved in global health research in Kenya, over what benefits are fair within a developing world context. Methods and results We conducted in-depth interviews with key informants drawn from within the broader health research system in Kenya including researchers from the mainstream health research institutions, networks and universities, teaching hospitals, policy makers, institutional review boards, civil society organisations and community representative groups. The range of benefits articulated by stakeholders addresses both micro and macro level concerns for justice by for instance, seeking to engage with interests of those facilitating research, and the broader systemic issues that make resource poor settings vulnerable to exploitation. We interpret these views to suggest a need for global health research to engage with current crises that face people in these settings as well as the broader systemic issues that produce them. Conclusion Global health research should provide benefits that address both the micro and macro level issues of justice in order to forestall exploitation. Embracing the two is however challenging in terms of how the various competing interests/needs should be balanced ethically, especially in the absence of structures to guide the process. This challenge should point to the need for greater dialogue to facilitate value clarification among stakeholders. (shrink)
Advocacy of ?methodological individualism? is widespread, especially among economists. However, the term is rarely defined with adequate precision and some crucial ambiguities are explored in this article. Among these is the commonplace ambivalence over whether explanations should be in terms of individuals alone, or in terms of individuals plus relations between them. It is shown that a great deal hinges on this subtle and often overlooked distinction in explanantia. In particular, explanations in terms of individuals alone have never, as yet, (...) been achieved. Furthermore, the more feasible version of explanations in terms of individuals plus relations between them amounts to the introduction of social structure alongside individuals in the explanantia. Serious questions remain whether this version warrants the one?sided emphasis on individuals in the term ?methodological individualism?. JEL Classifications: B20, B40, B41. (shrink)
Gers (Biol Philos, 2011) provides a positive and constructive view of the project to generalise Darwinian principles in Geoffrey Hodgson and Thorbjørn Knudsen’s Darwin’s Conjecture. We note considerable overlap with his work and ours, and also with important recent work of Godfrey-Smith ( 2009 ), which Gers cites extensively. But we also note that there are differences in research objectives between Gers and Godfrey-Smith, on the one hand, and ourselves, on the other. Gers and Godfrey-Smith focus on the elucidation (...) of the most general principles possible. Our aim is to derive principles that are sufficiently abstract to span the natural and human social worlds, and then add additional principles to help understand the Darwinian evolution of human society. Furthermore, Gers and Godfrey-Smith critique a replicator concept that is different from ours. Once these points are made apparent, the criticisms are essentially disabled, and we end up in a position with different but complementary and overlapping research projects. (shrink)
The value of rational choice theory for the social sciences has long been contested. It is argued here that, in the debate over its role, it is necessary to distinguish between claims that people maximise manifest payoffs, and claims that people maximise their utility. The former version has been falsified. The latter is unfalsifiable, because utility cannot be observed. In principle, utility maximisation can be adapted to fit any form of behaviour, including the behaviour of non-human organisms. Allegedly 'inconsistent' behaviour (...) is also impossible to establish without qualification. This utility-maximising version of rational choice theory has the character of a universal 'explanation' that can be made to 'fit' any set of events. This is a sign of weakness rather than strength. In its excessive quest for generality, utility-maximising rational choice theory fails to focus on the historically and geographically specific features of socio-economic systems. As long as such theory is confined to ahistorical generalities, then it will remain highly limited in dealing with the real world. Instead we have to consider the real social and psychological determinants of human behaviour. (shrink)
Recently the degree to which ?evolutionary economics? does or should involve Darwinian principles has come under debate. This essay builds on previous arguments that Darwinism has a potentially wide application to socioeconomic evolution, which does not involve biological reductionism. It is argued that at the core of Darwinism are presuppositions concerning causality and causal explanation. Contrary to widespread belief, these presuppositions do not downgrade or ignore human intentionality: they simply require that it too is in principle subject to causal explanation. (...) Neither are these presuppositions ?deterministic? or ?mechanistic?, at least by some prominent meanings of these terms. Furthermore, the presupposition of causal determination does not necessarily exclude or include stochastic or probabilistic determination. (shrink)
The established definition of replication in terms of the conditions of causality, similarity and information transfer is very broad. We draw inspiration from the literature on self-reproducing automata to strengthen the notion of information transfer in replication processes. To the triple conditions of causality, similarity and information transfer, we add a fourth condition that defines a “generative replicator” as a conditional generative mechanism, which can turn input signals from an environment into developmental instructions. Generative replication must have the potential to (...) enhance complexity, which in turn requires that developmental instructions are part of the information that is transmitted in replication. Demonstrating the usefulness of the generative replicator concept in the social domain, we identify social generative replicators that satisfy all of the four proposed conditions. (shrink)
Despite growing interest in evolutionary economics since the 1980s, a unified theoretical approach has so far been lacking. Methodological and ontological discussions within evolutionary economics have attempted to understand and help rectify this failure, but have revealed in turn further differences of perspective. One aim of this article is to show how different approaches relate to different levels of abstraction. A second purpose is to show that generalized Darwinism is some way from the most abstract level, and illustrates how it (...) may be used to move towards more specific theoretical applications. Nevertheless, there is a long way to go before these become more evident. (shrink)
Deliberative democracy is a noble project: an attempt to make citizens philosophize. Critics of deliberative democracy usually claim either that the proposed deliberation threatens an existing moral consensus or, instead, that deliberation is impossible amid power imbalances that oppress the weak. But another problem is that combining democracy and deliberation is inherently an attempt to engage publicly in a private activity?where sensitivity to each interlocutor may require a special form of address. Can this be done? Yes, in some contexts. The (...) tradition of esoteric writing has demonstrated that it is possible to layer one's discourse in such a way that all citizens can partake at a level that suits them. But writing for a public is not really deliberation among equals; it is leadership by the writer of the readers. Genuine dialogue among equals that takes account of their differences is, in contrast, inherently a private affair. (shrink)
While research has focused on why certain entrepreneurs elect to create innovative solutions to social problems, very little is known about why some social entrepreneurs choose to scale their solutions while others do not. Research on scaling has generally focused on organizational characteristics often overlooking factors at the individual level that may affect scaling decisions. Drawing on the multidimensional construct of moral intensity, we propose a theoretical model of ethical decision making to explain why a social entrepreneur’s perception of moral (...) intensity of the social problem, coupled with their personal desire for control, can significantly influence scaling decisions. Specifically, we propose that higher levels of perceived moral intensity will positively influence the likelihood of scaling through open as opposed to closed modes in order to achieve greater speed and scope of social impact. However, we also propose this effect will be negatively moderated by a social entrepreneur’s higher levels of desire for control. Our model has implications for research and practice at the interface of ethics and social entrepreneurship. (shrink)
Instead of examining critical realism directly, this essay critically examines claims made by two prominent critical realists, namely Andrew Collier and Tony Lawson, on behalf of their philosophy. These are (a) that critical realism supports Marx's law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, and (b) that critical realism is illustrated by the workplace organization theory of the relative decline of the British economy. It is argued that the first claim is false and the second is unsubstantiated. (...) Furthermore, propositions that are rejected by Collier and Lawson are shown in fact to be consistent with critical realism. These two case studies raise important questions concerning the claims made for critical realism on behalf of its adherents. Some questions are also posed concerning the character of critical realism as a movement. (shrink)
Darwin himself suggested the idea of generalizing the core Darwinian principles to cover the evolution of social entities. Also in the nineteenth century, influential social scientists proposed their extension to political society and economic institutions. Nevertheless, misunderstanding and misrepresentation have hindered the realization of the powerful potential in this longstanding idea. Some critics confuse generalization with analogy. Others mistakenly presume that generalizing Darwinism necessarily involves biological reductionism. This essay outlines the types of phenomena to which a generalized Darwinism applies, and (...) upholds that there is no reason to exclude social or economic entities. (shrink)
Advancing a general Darwinian framework to explain culture is an exciting endeavor. It requires that we face up to the challenge of identifying the specific components that are effective in replication processes in culture. This challenge includes the unsolved problem of explaining cultural inheritance, both at the level of individuals and at the level of social organizations and institutions.
Did Hobbes's political philosophy have practical intentions? There exists no "Hobbist" school of thought; no new political order was inspired by Hobbesian precepts. Yet in Behemoth Teaches Leviathan Geoffrey M. Vaughan revisits Behemoth to reveal hitherto unexplored pedagogic purpose to Hobbes's political philosophy.
Did Hobbes's political philosophy have practical intentions? There exists no 'Hobbist' school of thought; no new political order was inspired by Hobbesian precepts. Yet in Behemoth Teaches Leviathan Geoffrey M. Vaughan revisits Behemoth to reveal hitherto unexplored pedagogic purpose to Hobbes's political philosophy.
Social scientists have paid insufficient attention to the role of law in constituting the economic institutions of capitalism. Part of this neglect emanates from inadequate conceptions of the nature of law itself. Spontaneous conceptions of law and property rights that downplay the role of the state are criticized here, because they typically assume relatively small numbers of agents and underplay the complexity and uncertainty in developed capitalist systems. In developed capitalist economies, law is sustained through interaction between private agents, courts (...) and the legislative apparatus. Law is also a key institution for overcoming contracting uncertainties. It is furthermore a part of the power structure of society, and a major means by which power is exercised. This argument is illustrated by considering institutions such as property and the firm. Complex systems of law have played a crucial role in capitalist development and are also vital for developing economies. (shrink)
Abstract Thomas Hobbes denied both that opinion provides access to truth and that it ought to be protected from political manipulation. Hobbes knew that his contempt for opinion put him at odds with the classical tradition of political philosophy. What he could not have known was that it also would put him at odds with modern, liberal democracy, which protects opinions?the opinions of the public?that it cannot invest with truth value.
The Judeo-Christian creation myth has a lot to answer for even in our supposedly secular age. In and after the European Enlightenment, the deity who had made heaven and earth became the prototype of impersonal forces—notably Universal Reason, Progress, and History—then believed to be at work in the world. These apparent secularizations of the Word of God, each of which failed in its own way, were expressions of a collective fear of the unintelligible, that is, of the very idea that (...) the world might just be without reason or purpose. What follows is an attempt to explore the forms and origins of this fear, which perhaps remains unresolved in our culture to this day. It begins outside the Judeo-Christian tradition with the world view implied, on one interpretation, in a famous haiku by the seventeenth-century Japanese poet Bashō. The essay ends by suggesting that secular society will achieve a completely honest accommodation with the world only when it comes to terms with the reality of the creation, namely.. (shrink)
The two introductory chapters are short, well written, and engaging. Chapter 1 constitutes an eloquent introduction to the state of Stoic philosophy. Naturalism and eudaimonism are central to Becker's new Stoic ethics, and his repeated use of the adjective “our” to describe Stoic remedies suggests that he preserves the ancient role of Stoic philosophy as a therapeutic ethics of diminished expectations. He might resist this characterization however, since he goes on to reject explicitly this vein within ancient Stoicism. Chapter 2 (...) seeks to correct the unfortunate fact that philosophers generally reject Stoic therapy along with “tranquilizers and prefrontal lobotomies as means to a good life”. Becker identifies five important features of his new Stoic ethics: eudaimonism, intellectualism, naturalism, the formal unity of the virtues, and particularity, that is, role or self-mastery. He distances his new Stoicism from that of his ancient forerunners by reconsidering the problem of cosmic teleology. Given the continuity of Stoic thought through modernity, “it is reasonable to suppose that stoics would have found a way to reject teleological physics and biology when scientific consensus did; that they would have found ways to hold their own against the attacks on naturalism launched in the modern era. And it is reasonable to suppose that the sheer variety of self-identified stoics over the centuries would have prevented, as it did in antiquity, the view that a stoic life is typically a bleak one'. The author disclaims the extremes of architectonic theoretical system and therapeutic encheiridion as characterizations of his book· It is, rather, an “investigation of neglected possibilities” which tries to show the viability of stoicism as an ethical system. (shrink)
This article discusses some of the ways in which Darwinism has influenced a small minority of economists. It is argued that Darwinism involves a philosophical as well as a theoretical doctrine. Despite claims to the contrary, the uses of analogies to Darwinian natural selection theory are highly limited in economics. Exceptions include Thorstein Veblen, Richard Nelson, and Sidney Winter. At the philosophical level, one of the key features of Darwinism is its notion of detailed understanding in terms of chains of (...) cause and effect. This issue is discussed in the context of the problem of causality in social theory. At least in Darwinian terms, the prevailing causal dualism — of intentional and mechanical causality — in the social sciences is found wanting. Once again, Veblen was the first economist to understand the implications for economics of Darwinism at this philosophical level. For Veblen, it was related to his notion of 'cumulative causation'. The article concludes with a discussion of the problems and potential of this Veblenian position. (shrink)