The Concept of Race in Medicine

Robin O. Andreasen

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Biology

Published in print July 2008 | ISBN: 9780195182057
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

The Concept of Race in Medicine

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  • Social and Political Philosophy



This article focuses on ethical issues of biomedical research. The ethical concerns raised maintain that potential benefits outweigh potential harms. The benefit is that collecting and reporting race data will help pharmacologists gain a better understanding of health, disease, and response to drug treatment. This, in turn, may help to eliminate many racial disparities in health outcomes. While there are some legitimate concerns associated with the use of race in medicine, these problems can be overcome. Answers to questions about the origins of racial variation in health outcomes are likely to vary from disease to disease and is likely to involve interactions among multiple environmental and social factors. The question of whether genetic factors are likely to play an important role in explaining race—associated health differences is largely unanswered—and can be answered only by future research.

Keywords: ethical issues; biomedical; benefits; health; disease; medicine; race; variation; research

Article.  12546 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Science ; Social and Political Philosophy

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