Clinical Equipoise: Foundational Requirement or Fundamental Error?

Alex John London

in The Oxford Handbook of Bioethics

Published in print February 2009 | ISBN: 9780199562411
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Clinical Equipoise: Foundational Requirement or Fundamental Error?

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Any view of equipoise faces perhaps the most radical and far-reaching objections from moral foundations. These objections hold that the equipoise requirement conflates the ethics of medical research and the ethics of clinical medicine. Once this conflation is recognized, this position holds, research can be given a new foundation on the imperative to avoid exploiting research participants. This article argues that what is novel in this critique is not as successful as its proponents claim and that the ultimate success of this approach actually hinges on a version of the objection from utility. Nevertheless, this criticism highlights the limited scope of applicability of the equipoise requirement. The article concludes, therefore, by describing the outlines of what the article calls an ‘integrative approach’ to clinical trials. This approach represents one way in which the normative requirements of equipoise and the non-exploitation approach might be unified under a single, broad framework.

Keywords: clinical medicine; medical research; clinical trials; normative requirements; clinical equipoise; moral foundations

Article.  12153 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Science ; Moral Philosophy

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