It seems to me that those who place great value on the right to human freedom can be badly divided on the question of the use of force by states to defend the liberties of those who are not citizens of that particular state. Concerned about the liberties to be defended, they might be enthusiastic supporters of the use of such force by liberty-loving countries throughout the world. Concerned about the liberties that might be violated when the state marshals its (...) forces for use internationally, they might adopt a more isolationist approach to this issue. This paper is an attempt to help clarify this conflict by looking at some of the philosophical issues it raises. Because I wish to avoid factual debates about current conflicts, I will give no real-life examples. However, they are on my mind, and I hope the reader will keep them in mind as well. (shrink)
Responsible conduct of research courses are widely taught, but little is known about the purposes or effectiveness of such courses. As one way to assess the purposes of these courses, students were surveyed about their perspectives after recent completion of one of eleven different research ethics courses at ten different institutions. Participants enrolled in RCR courses in spring and fall of 2003 received a voluntary, anonymous survey from their instructors at the completion of the course. Responses were received from 268 (...) participants. Seventy-seven percent of open-ended responses listed specific kinds of information learned; only a few respondents talked about changes in skills or attitudes. The perception that courses did more to provide information than to foster skills or attitudes was verified in quantitative responses. Over 75% of the respondents specifically noted that courses were useful in preparing them to recognize, avoid, and respond to research misconduct. The two principal findings of this multi-institutional study are that respondents reported: a wide variety of positive outcomes for research ethics courses, but that the impact on knowledge was greater than that for changes in skills or attitudes. (shrink)
This paper distinguishes four major types of futility (physiological, imminent demise, lethal condition, and qualitative) that have been advocated in the literature either in a patient dependent or a patient independent fashion. It proposes five criteria (precision, prospective, social acceptability, significant number, and non-agreement) that any definition of futility must satisfy if it is to serve as the basis for unilaterally limiting futile care. It then argues that none of the definitions that have been advocated meet the criteria, primarily because (...) their proponents have not paid sufficient attention to the problematic nature of the data supporting the use of their definitions. (shrink)
Background If trials of therapeutic interventions are to serve society's interests, they must be of high methodological quality and must satisfy moral commitments to human subjects. The authors set out to develop a clinical - trials compendium in which standards for the ethical treatment of human subjects are integrated with standards for research methods. Methods The authors rank-ordered the world's nations and chose the 31 with >700 active trials as of 24 July 2008. Governmental and other authoritative entities of the (...) 31 countries were searched, and 1004 English-language documents containing ethical and/or methodological standards for clinical trials were identified. The authors extracted standards from 144 of those: 50 designated as ‘core’, 39 addressing trials of invasive procedures and a 5% sample of the remainder. As the integrating framework for the standards we developed a coherent taxonomy encompassing all elements of a trial's stages. Findings Review of the 144 documents yielded nearly 15 000 discrete standards. After duplicates were removed, 5903 substantive standards remained, distributed in the taxonomy as follows: initiation, 1401 standards, 8 divisions; design, 1869 standards, 16 divisions; conduct, 1473 standards, 8 divisions; analysing and reporting results, 997 standards, four divisions; and post-trial standards, 168 standards, 5 divisions. Conclusions The overwhelming number of source documents and standards uncovered in this study was not anticipated beforehand and confirms the extraordinary complexity of the clinical trials enterprise. This taxonomy of multinational ethical and methodological standards may help trialists and overseers improve the quality of clinical trials, particularly given the globalisation of clinical research. (shrink)
The effects of research ethics training on medical students' attitudes about clinical research are examined. A preliminary randomized controlled trial evaluated 2 didactic approaches to ethics training compared to a no-intervention control. The participant-oriented intervention emphasized subjective experiences of research participants. The criteria-oriented intervention emphasized specific ethical criteria for analyzing protocols. Compared to controls, those in the participant-oriented intervention group exhibited greater attunement to research participants' attitudes related to altruism, trust, quality of relationships with researchers, desire for information, hopes about (...) participation and possible therapeutic misconception, importance of consent forms, and deciding quickly about participation. The participant-oriented group also agreed more strongly that seriously ill people are capable of making their own research participation decisions. The criteria-oriented intervention did not affect learners' attitudes about clinical research, ethical duties of investigators, or research participants' decision making. An empathy-focused approach affected medical students' attunement to research volunteer perspectives, preferences, and attributes, but an analytically oriented approach had no influence. These findings underscore the need to further examine the differential effects of empathy-versus analytic-focused approaches to the teaching of ethics. (shrink)
In a recent article (Brody 2010), I analyzed the debates surrounding charges of biopiracy, that is, charges that developed countries use biotechnology patents to expropriate the biological/genetic heritage of less developed countries. Such charges often are accompanied by the additional charge that biotechnology patents are used to expropriate the traditional knowledge about the use of these resources possessed by indigenous communities in less developed countries. It is this second charge that is the focus of this essay, which will develop (...) both narrative and normative claims. The narrative claim is that various context specific principles about justice relating to traditional knowledge were adopted during the .. (shrink)
An informed consent and voluntary assent in biomedical research with adolescents is contingent on a variety of factors, including adolescent and parent perceptions of research risk, benefit, and decision-making autonomy. Thirty-seven adolescents with asthma and their parents evaluated a high or low aversion form of a pediatric asthma research vignette and provided an enrollment decision; their perceptions of family influence over the participation decision; and evaluations of risk, aversion, benefit, and burden of study procedures. Adolescents and their parents agreed on (...) research participation decisions 74% of the time, yet both claimed ultimate responsibility for the participation decision. Both rated most study procedures as significantly more aversive than risky. Parents were more likely to rate aspects of the hypothetical study as beneficial and to provide higher risk ratings for procedures. Disagreements concerning research participation decisions and decision-making autonomy have implications for the exercise of voluntary assent in biomedical research. (shrink)
A less analytic and more wholistic approach to philosophy, described as best overall fit or seeing how things all hang together, is defended in recent works by John Rawls and Richard Rorty and can usefully be applied to problems in philosophy of medicine. Looking at sickness and its impact upon the person as a central problem for philosophy of medicine, this approach discourages a search for necessary and sufficient conditions for being sick, and instead encourages a listing of true and (...) interesting observations about sickness which reflect the convergence of a number of different viewpoints. Among the relevant viewpoints are other humanities disciplines besides philosophy and the social sciences. Literature, in particular, provides insights into the meaning and the uniqueness of episodes of sickness in a way that philosophers may otherwise fail to grasp. (shrink)
The effects of research ethics training on medical students' attitudes about clinical research are examined. A preliminary randomized controlled trial evaluated 2 didactic approaches to ethics training compared to a no-intervention control. The participant-oriented intervention emphasized subjective experiences of research participants (empathy focused). The criteria-oriented intervention emphasized specific ethical criteria for analyzing protocols (analytic focused). Compared to controls, those in the participant-oriented intervention group exhibited greater attunement to research participants' attitudes related to altruism, trust, quality of relationships with researchers, desire (...) for information, hopes about participation and possible therapeutic misconception, importance of consent forms, and deciding quickly about participation. The participant-oriented group also agreed more strongly that seriously ill people are capable of making their own research participation decisions. The criteria-oriented intervention did not affect learners' attitudes about clinical research, ethical duties of investigators, or research participants' decision making. An empathy-focused approach affected medical students' attunement to research volunteer perspectives, preferences, and attributes, but an analytically oriented approach had no influence. These findings underscore the need to further examine the differential effects of empathy-versus analytic-focused approaches to the teaching of ethics. (shrink)
This essay grows out of my curiosity regarding the architectural details Chaucer provides for the consummation scene in book 3 of Troilus and Criseyde, in which Pandarus first brings Troilus to Criseyde through a trap door from an adjacent stewe and then, to reassure her that her reputation is not being compromised, offers the false explanation that Troilus secretly entered the house by means of a goter and a pryve wente . Among the obscure details are such matters as the (...) implied spatial relationships among the rooms and the exact nature of features like the goter and pryve wente. In trying to puzzle these things out, I have been able to supplement H. M. Smyser's influential presentation of the architecture of Pandarus's house with new information and interpretations—and with some speculations on the literary function of several of the architectural details that Chaucer gives us: the stewe, the trap door, the goter, and the pryve wente. (shrink)
Ulf Schmidt, writing on “Medical Ethics and Nazism” in the recently published Cambridge World History of Medical Ethics, states:In 1920, the lawyer Karl Binding and the psychiatrist Alfred Hoche published their tract Permission for the Destruction of Life Unworthy of Life. … Their positivistic theory was a combination of legal norms and medical arguments that granted the state fundamental rights while overriding the rights of individuals. The traditional moral belief system that advocated care and compassion for the weak and unproductive (...) was radically called into question. The book was written in the wake of World War I; readers were asked to compare the “battlefields littered with.. (shrink)
The physician in Erde's clinical case study performed poorly in a number of aspects of informed consent and good physician-patient communication. However, the patient also failed to perform some of his own duties to participate in effective communication and so shares at least some responsibility for the bad outcome.
Twenty-four years remind the tears of my eyes.In the groin of the natural doorway I crouched like a tailorSewing a shroud for a journeyBy the light of the meat-eating sun.Dressed to die, the sensual strut begun,With my red veins full of money,In the final direction of the elementary townI advance for as long as forever is.1The first problem raised in this poem is the agrammatical status of the word remind, which in normal usage governs either a verbal or phrasal complement. (...) The reader’s question is: “reminds you of what?” And it is a natural expectation, as the poem unfolds, that this lacuna.. (shrink)
It has been argued that neither the biological or the moral justifications commonly given for adoption of brain-death criteria are adequate; and that the only argument that succeeds is an ontological justification based on the fact that one's personal identity terminates with the death of one's brain. But a more satisfactory ontological approach analyzes brain death in terms of the existence of a person in connection with a body, not personal identity. The personal-existence justification does not supplant the usual biological (...) and moral arguments, but acts in concert with them. (shrink)
In mid-1996, the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments and rule on two lower court cases that would, if upheld, legalize physician-assisted suicide in twelve states, including California. At about the same time, at a national meeting dealing with this controversial topic, several participants from the San Francisco Bay Area got together to ask, Based on the old principle of the suggestion was made that the local ethics committee network might be interested in developing guidelines for the care (...) of patients at the end of life in the unlikely event that laws would change by Supreme Court action. Thus the coordinator of the Bay Area Network of Ethics Committees (BANEC) and several BANEC members began to discuss this question. (shrink)
Froom and Froom all attention to referral bias as a frequent cause for misinterpreting the medical literature. This is particularly a source of false certainty, and therefore false science, in U.S. practice, where referral centers are often seen as the only legitimate source of medical knowledge and where primary care is discounted as a source of scientific observations. Appreciation of the primary care setting is therefore a critical element in theoretical understanding of medical epistemology.
Computer technology as well as the need to conduct research in primary care settings, has stimulated the creation in the U.S. of information networks linking private physicians' offices and other primary care practice sights. These networks give rise to several problems which have philosophic interest. One is a numerator problem created by the difficulty in primary care of using the more complicated or invasive diagnostic technologies commonly employed in tertiary care research. Another is a denominator problem arising from the difficulties (...) in determining which and how many patients constitute the population from which a practice is drawn. Finally, this mode of research raises questions about the social construction of medical reality and how objective medical truth is actually based on carefully selected patient experience. All these questions combine to challenge the gold standard view on medical research: the idea that some sorts of medical knowledge are epistemologically privileged and can serve as a bench-mark to determine whether new data are valid. (shrink)
This paper will attempt to defend the thesis that it is impossible to understand the proper role of private philanthropy in a free and democratic society without examining certain fundamental questions about the proper roles of the state and about the rights and obligations of owners of private property. It will defend that thesis by presenting arguments for four subordinate theses: there are historical and philosophical reasons for being skeptical about the role of private philanthropy in a free and democratic (...) state; these reasons can be met by certain familiar responses, but these responses are not fully satisfactory; certain radical libertarian views, and more moderate versions of those views, would provide a basis for an alternative understanding of the role of private philanthropy in a free and democratic state; whether or not one accepts those views, one can also better understand that role if one adopts a view of the state which emphasizes its role in the promotion of the virtues. Historical and Philosophical Doubts The skeptical challenge to the claim that there is an important role for private philanthropy in a free and democratic state can be put very simply. It is the challenge that the emergence of strong but democratic states, with the concurrent emergence of a proper understanding of the extensive nature of legitimate state functions, has undercut the need for private philanthropy and its corresponding favorable tax treatment. It is the further claim that these developments, both historical and conceptual, have left private philanthropy with no significant role. (shrink)
Last night I dived my beggar armDays deep in her breast that wore no heartFor me alone but only a rocked drumTelling the heart I broke of a good habitThat her loving, unfriendly limbsWould plunge my betrayal from sheet to skySo the betrayed might learn in the sun beamsOf the death in a bed in another country.1This poem, as far as I have been able to determine, has never been the object of any published critical commentary. The only help that (...) I have had in my reading of it has come from groups of students to whom I have regularly assigned it as a midterm paper, largely because I knew in advance that they would have to confront it entirely on their own. My interest in this text stems from its unique status as a poem.. (shrink)
An individual's health, genetic, or environmental-exposure data, placed in an online repository, creates a valuable shared resource that can accelerate biomedical research and even open opportunities for crowd-sourcing discoveries by members of the public. But these data become “immortalized” in ways that may create lasting risk as well as benefit. Once shared on the Internet, the data are difficult or impossible to redact, and identities may be revealed by a process called data linkage, in which online data sets are matched (...) to each other. Reidentification, the process of associating an individual's name with data that were considered deidentified, poses risks such as insurance or employment discrimination, social stigma, and breach of the promises often made in informed-consent documents. At the same time, re-ID poses risks to researchers and indeed to the future of science, should re-ID end up undermining the trust and participation of potential research participants. The ethical challenges of online data sharing are heightened as so-called big data becomes an increasingly important research tool and driver of new research structures. Big data is shifting research to include large numbers of researchers and institutions as well as large numbers of participants providing diverse types of data, so the participants’ consent relationship is no longer with a person or even a research institution. In addition, consent is further transformed because big data analysis often begins with descriptive inquiry and generation of a hypothesis, and the research questions cannot be clearly defined at the outset and may be unforeseeable over the long term. In this article, we consider how expanded data sharing poses new challenges, illustrated by genomics and the transition to new models of consent. We draw on the experiences of participants in an open data platform—the Personal Genome Project—to allow study participants to contribute their voices to inform ethical consent practices and protocol reviews for big-data research. (shrink)
Utilizing a sorted compendium of international clinical trial standards, investigators identified 15 conflicts among ethical and methodological guidance. Analysis distinguishes interpretational issues, lack of clarity, and contradiction as factors to be addressed if international trial guidance is to be improved.
Integrating theory with case studies, this book examines the practical application of moral theory in clinical decision-making through 40 composite cases based on actual clinical experience. Complex, realistic, and challenging, these examples contain the multiplicity of factors faced in clinical crises, making this a superb exploration of the ways in which theory relates to actual life-or-death situations.
Although the physician’s use and misuse of power have been discussed in the social sciences and in literature, they have never been explored in medical ethics until now. In this book, Dr. Howard Brody argues that the central task is not to reduce the physician’s power, as others have suggested, but to develop guidelines for its use, so that the doctor shares with the patient both information and the responsibility for deciding on appropriate treatment. Dr. Brody first reviews (...) literary works dealing with medical power, from Dostoevsky’s “The Grand Inquisitor” to stories by William Carlos Williams, Vonda McIntyre, and Richard Selzer. These works, he shows, reveal the healers’ ambivalence over their own powers and patients’ fears of the abuse of power. Dr. Brody then points out important but neglected ethical issues that emerge from an analysis of power, such as the tension between care of individual patients and the pressures of the doctor’s workload; the rescue fantasy that impels some physicians to extraordinary lengths to save a life; and the economic system, which rewards surgeons and other specialists more than it does physicians who spend time talking with patients about their problems. He also shows how the perspective of shared power can shed new light on standard topics in medical ethics—from informed consent and confidentiality to resource allocation and cost containment. (shrink)
In this paper, I consider a variety of objections against the covering-law model of scientific explanation, show that Aristotle was already aware of them and had solutions for them, and argue that these solutions are correct. These solutions involve the notions of nonHumean causality and of essential properties. There are a great many familiar objections, both methodological and epistemological, to introducing these concepts into the methodology of science, but I show that these objections are based upon misunderstandings of these concepts.
: In the development of biotechnology in the United States, many questions were raised about the appropriateness of applying to this area a traditional robust system of intellectual property rights. Despite these hesitations, the U.S. rejected suggested modifications. This was a mistake, and there is a need to develop a modified system that promotes more of the relevant ethical values.