Moral Entanglements

Henry S. Richardson

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780195388930
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979196 | DOI:
Moral Entanglements

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Interacting innocently with others, we can become morally entangled with their affairs, despite neither party having intended this. This route to obligation—underexplored by moral philosophers—is of great practical importance to those engaged in medical research on human subjects. Medical researchers encounter all sorts of medical needs in their human subjects. Malaria researchers working in rural Africa may encounter malaria, schistosomiasis, HIV, and other diseases. Brain-scan studies in high-tech research hospitals may reveal suspicious anomalies in the brains of normal volunteers. These subjects may need ancillary care from the researchers: medical care not required to carry out the study safely and soundly. Currently, no authoritative ethical guidance covers such situations. This book’s author’s partial-entrustment model has been the leading principled account of medical researchers’ ancillary-care obligations. Here, this book buttresses and extends this model, newly explaining how these obligations arise as moral entanglements to which researchers open themselves by accepting special permissions to examine study participants’ bodies, collect their bodily fluids and tissues, and probe their medical histories. In addition to providing a full-dress philosophical defense for the partial-entrustment model, this book addresses the most important concrete and practical issues that arise regarding ancillary care, including justice, exploitation, waivability, and prioritization. The book closes by noting issues needing further exploration, broader philosophical implications, and practical steps we can take now.

Keywords: bioethics; research ethics; ancillary care; role obligations; moral entanglements; privacy rights; beneficence; developing countries

Book.  272 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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