This essay reviews six different approaches to intellectual property. It and argues that none of these accounts provide an adequate justification of intellectual property laws and policies because (1) there are many different types of intellectual property, and (2) a variety of incommensurable values play a role in the justification of intellectual property. The best approach to intellectual property is to assess and balance competing moral values in light of the particular facts and circumstances.
Most of the discussion in bioethics and health policy concerning social responsibility for health has focused on society’s obligation to provide access to healthcare. While ensuring access to healthcare is an important social responsibility, societies can promote health in many other ways, such as through sanitation, pollution control, food and drug safety, health education, disease surveillance, urban planning and occupational health. Greater attention should be paid to strategies for health promotion other than access to healthcare, such as environmental and public (...) health and health research.Lifestyle plays a major role in most of the illnesses in industrialised nations.1 Six of the 10 leading factors contributing to the global burden of disease are lifestyle related: unsafe sex, high blood pressure, tobacco use, alcohol use, high cholesterol and obesity.2 Lifestyle-related illnesses also contribute to the rising costs of healthcare. Spending on healthcare accounts for about 16% of the gross domestic product in the USA, or US$1.9 trillion.3 Although smoking has declined steadily there since the 1960s, smoking-related medical expenses are still about US$75.5 billion per year.4 Obesity, which has been climbing in the past two decades, accounts for about US$75 billion in healthcare costs there each year.5 Alcoholism and drug addiction in the USA account for annual healthcare costs of about US$22.5 billion and US$12 billion, respectively.6,7 Federal government spending on healthcare relating to HIV/AIDS is over US$13 billion per year.8Given the well-documented relationship between lifestyle, disease burden and healthcare costs, it makes economic and medical sense to hold individuals morally responsible for their health-related choices. While this view has a great deal of intuitive appeal, it also faces numerous objections.9–12 First, holding individuals entirely responsible for their own health conflicts with medicine’s obligation to treat the sick and society’s obligation …. (shrink)
The phrase “minimal risk,” as defined in the United States’ federal research regulations, is ambiguous and poorly defined. This article argues that most of the ambiguity that one finds in the phrase stems from the “daily life risks” standard in the definition of minimal risk. In this article, the author argues that the daily life risks standard should be dropped and that “minimal risk” should be defined as simply “the probability and magnitude of the harm or discomfort anticipated in research (...) are not greater than those encountered during the performance of routine physical or psychological examinations or tests”. (shrink)
This essay develops a framework for thinking about the moral basis for the commodification of human reproductive materials. It argues that selling and buying gametes and genes is morally acceptable although there should not be a market for zygotes, embryos, or genomes. Also a market in gametes and genes should be regulated in order to address concerns about the adverse social consequences of commodification.
Inappropriate authorship is a common problem in biomedical research and may be becoming one in bioethics, due to the increase in multiple authorship. This paper investigates the authorship policies of bioethics journals to determine whether they provide adequate guidance for researchers who submit articles for publication, which can help deter inappropriate authorship. It was found that 63.3% of bioethics journals provide no guidance on authorship; 36.7% provide guidance on which contributions merit authorship, 23.3% provide guidance on which contributions do not (...) merit authorship, 23.3% require authors to take responsibility for their contributions or for the article as a whole, 20% provide guidance on which contributions merit an acknowledgement but not authorship, 6.7% require authors to describe their contributions, and only 3.3% distinguish between authorship in empirical and conceptual research. To provide authors with effective guidance and promote integrity in bioethics research, bioethics journals should adopt authorship policies that address several important topics, such as the qualifications for authorship, describing authorship contributions, taking responsibility for the research and the difference between authorship in empirical and conceptual research. (shrink)
Informed consent is one of the foundational ethical and legal requirements of research with human subjects. The Nuremberg Code, the Helsinki Declaration, the Belmont Report, the Common Rule and many other laws and codes require that research subjects make a voluntary, informed choice to participate in research.12345 Informed consent is based on the moral principle of respect for autonomy, which holds that rational individuals have a right to make decisions and take actions that reflect their values and preferences. 6 Whereas (...) most guidelines and codes also require that informed consent be properly documented, informed consent is much more than signing a piece of paper: It is a continuous process of communication between the investigator and the research subject. 7 Because the body of knowledge impacting a study frequently changes, subjects should receive information from investigators after they have enrolled in a study, such as significant new findings that may affect their decision to participate in research or clinically useful tests results. 8910 In large studies, some investigators use newsletters to update subjects on the progress of research and other developments.11Most of the ongoing communications between investigators and subjects involve little more than information sharing, without revisiting the decision to participate in research or signing any additional documents. Sometimes, however, it may be necessary for subjects to reaffirm their decision to participate, to re-consent, or to sign or re-sign a document. 8 Re-consent can be defined as an action in which a subject makes the decision to participate in research once again. Re-consent is different from reaffirming a commitment to participate in a study, because in re-consent one actually reconsiders the information necessary to make decision, whereas in reaffirmation one simply expresses …. (shrink)
In this short paper, we respond to critics of our original paper, The agony of agonal respiration: is the last gasp necessary?. A common thread in both Hawryluck’s and Kuhse’s responses is the difficulties encountered when using the agent’s intentions to make moral distinctions between using neuromuscular blocking drugs to palliate versus using neuromuscular blocking drugs to kill. Although this difficulty does exist we maintain that the intentions of the physician must matter when providing end-of-life care.