The Moral Basis of the Partial-Entrustment Model

Henry S. Richardson

in Moral Entanglements

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780195388930
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979196 | DOI:
The Moral Basis of the Partial-Entrustment Model

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The partial-entrustment model sets out a position on medical researchers’ ancillary-care obligations that many have found attractive; but why should we believe it? What grounds the special obligations that it attributes to medical researchers? This chapter explains that they are grounded as a special case of moral entanglements: obligations that unintendedly arise as by-products of innocent transactions. Researchers’ ancillary-care obligations, more particularly, arise from their having accepted participants’ waivers of privacy rights (rights shielding their bodies, bodily samples, and medical histories) during the informed-consent process. In so doing, researchers have—perhaps unwittingly—taken on special responsibilities that are associated with those rights. These special responsibilities create a morally significant relationship between researchers and subjects and thus ground the special ancillary-care obligation. Rival impartialist accounts, such as Robert Goodin’s vulnerability-based account and Leif Wenar’s least-cost-threat-avoider account, cannot explain our intuitions about this kind of privacy-based moral entanglement.

Keywords: research ethics; ancillary care; partial-entrustment model; moral entanglements; beneficence; privacy rights; Robert Goodin; Leif Wenar

Chapter.  15480 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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