It is not unusual for researchers to complain about institutional review board (IRB) oversight, but social scientists have a unique set of objections to the work of ethics committees. In an effort to better understand the problems associated with ethics review of social, behavioral, and economic sciences (SBES) research, this article examines 3 different aspects of research ethics committees: (a) the composition of review boards; (b) the guidelines used by these boards to review SBES - and in particular, behavioral health (...) - research; and (c) the actual deliberations of IRBs. The article concludes with recommendations for changes in the review process and with suggestions for filling the gaps in knowledge about the way IRBs work. (shrink)
Women are routinely subjected to penetrating surveillance during pregnancy. On the surface, this may appear to flow from a cultural commitment to protect babies – a cultural practice of “better safe than sorry” that is particularly vigilant given the vulnerability of fetuses and babies. In reality, pregnancy occasions incursions against human rights and well-being that would be anathema in other contexts. Our cultural practices concerning risk in pregnancy are infused with oppressive norms about women’s responsibility for pregnancy outcomes and the (...) demands of extreme self-sacrifice from women to protect their fetuses. Of particular concern is our culture’s willingness to enforce norms concerning risk during pregnancy using coercive measures including forced cesarean sections and criminal penalties for exposing fetuses to risk. This chapter will consider assaults on self-determination, bodily integrity and privacy inherent in such interventions, as well as the structural violence and “mangled pieties” that buttress such practices in our unjust society. (shrink)
Clinical trials are a central mechanism in the production of medical knowledge. They are the gold standard by which such knowledge is evaluated. They are widespread both in the United States and internationally; a National Institute of Health database reports over 106,000 active industry and government-sponsored trials (National Institutes of Health n.d.). They are an engine of the economy. The work of trials is complex; multiple people with diverse interests working across multiple settings simultaneously participate in them, and they are (...) underwritten by multiple organizational structures and diverse funding mechanisms. In the past several years, concern about the ethics of clinical trials has spiked dramatically .. (shrink)
A note ofurgencycan sometimes be heard, even in otherwise unhurried writers, when they ask for a justification of morality. Unless the ethical life, or morality, can be justified by philosophy, we shall be open to relativism, amoralism, and disorder. As they often put it: when an amoralist calls ethical considerations in doubt, and suggests that there is no reason to follow the requirements of morality,what can we say to him?Why should one be moral? This question is nearly as old as (...) the discipline of moral philosophy itself; it has been troubling ethicists ever since Glaucon challenged Socrates to disprove that “the life of the unjust man is much better than that of the just.” To find an answer to the question of why one should be moral has been taken to be one of the most fundamental tasks of moral philosophy. And even a casual survey of the history of ethics will reveal that there are many ways of trying to answer the question. (shrink)
Our society's practice of inadequately representing women as subjects of clinical research is unjust, not only because it results in inequalities in the quality and availability of care that have a detrimental impact on women's health, but also because it is linked to women's oppression. Although recent policy changes help to resolve the problems, more must be done. Additional remedies for the injustices of our society's research practices are proposed.
Pandemic plans are increasingly attending to groups experiencing health disparities and other social vulnerabilities. Although some pandemic guidance is silent on the issue, guidance that attends to socially vulnerable groups ranges widely, some procedural (often calling for public engagement), and some substantive. Public engagement objectives vary from merely educational to seeking reflective input into the ethical commitments that should guide pandemic planning and response. Some plans that concern rationing during a severe pandemic recommend ways to protect socially vulnerable groups without (...) prioritizing access to scarce resources based on social vulnerability per se. The Minnesota Pandemic Ethics Project (MPEP), a public engagement project on rationing scarce health resources during a severe influenza pandemic, agrees and recommends an integrated set of ways to attend to the needs of socially vulnerable people and avoid exacerbation of health disparities during a severe influenza pandemic. Among other things, MPEP recommends: 1. Engaging socially vulnerable populations to clarify unique needs and effective strategies; 2. Engaging socially vulnerable populations to elicit ethical values and perspectives on rationing; 3. Rejecting rationing based on race, socioeconomic class, citizenship, quality of life, length of life-extension and first-come, first-served; 4. Prioritizing those in the general population for access to resources based on combinations of risk (of death or severe complications from influenza, exposure to influenza, transmitting influenza to vulnerable groups) and the likelihood of responding well to the resource in question. 5. Protecting critical infrastructures on which vulnerable populations and the general public rely; 6. Identifying and removing access barriers during pandemic planning and response; and 7. Collecting and promptly analyzing data during the pandemic to identify groups at disproportionate risk of influenza-related mortality and serious morbidity and to optimize the distribution of resources. (shrink)
Contrary to the popular belief that feminism has gained a foothold in the many disciplines of the academy, the essays collected in Theorizing Backlash argue that feminism is still actively resisted in mainstream academia. Contributors to this volume consider the professional, philosophical, and personal backlashes against feminist thought, and reflect upon their ramifications. The conclusion is that the disdain and irrational resentment of feminism, even in higher education, amounts to a backlash against progress.
Why should one be moral? There is a very strong tradition in moral philosophy of attempting to answer this question by trying to provide a rational justification of morality. Rationalist moral theorists interpret this question as a challenge posed by amoralists, agents who lack any moral sentiments, and so who take themselves to have no reason to be moral. Thus, rationalist moral theorists set out to show that, whatever our sentiments, rationality--which is supposed to be essential to all agents--demands that (...) we be moral. Much of moral philosophy has been devoted to the tasks of giving rationalist justifications of morality, and of assessing the success of various attempts to do so. Yet few philosophers explicitly note that the rationalist project presupposes a substantive conception of morality--a conception which abstracts from agents' particular desires and sentiments altogether. And little attention has been paid to the question of whether we ought to accept the rationalist understanding of the 'Why be moral?' question and the conception of morality which goes with it. It is to that question which I turn in my thesis. ;I begin by characterizing rationalist moral theory and the impersonal conception of morality it presupposes. Admittedly, it appears that a rationalist justification would provide a powerful answer to the amoralist's query of why she should be moral. However, I argue that such a justification cannot carry enough force to provide the promised answer to the amoralist. I maintain that the difficulties rationalism encounters in justifying morality point to an alternative paradigm of justification in ethics and a notion of morality which differs from the impersonal one presupposed by rationalism. (shrink)