Chapter 7: Human Experimentation
|Section 3. Presentation of Issues.|
Purpose of Experimentation:
To gain information and hopefully to use that information to assist people, to cure illnesses, to alleviate pain.
Resources on Nonconsensual Human Experimentation
Types of Experiments
Therapeutic- Intended for the benefit of those who are the subjects of the experiment
Non therapeutic-not intended for the benefit of those who are the subjects of the experiment
Codes Governing Research and Experimentation: There are National and International codes or guidelines
Various Professional Societies
CONDITIONS for an experiment to proceed
how old? what conditions?
Those in PAIN
Those in TOTAL Institutions
Prisoners- rewards versus duress
Students in Colleges/Universities
DOUBLE BLIND METHODOLOGY
Medical Research versus Therapy
Who Controls the Experiment??
Peer Review to legitimize research and protect subjects
such peer review groups are often "rubber stamps"
KEY QUESTIONS FOR REVIEW OF EXPERIMENT for APPROVAL
1. Is it worth the risk?
2. Is the information otherwise obtainable?
3. have non human animal experiments been done?
4. Is the experiment meeting scientific standards?
5. Do the experimenters have the proper background? Are they qualified?
6. Are the risks minimal? Have they been minimized?
7. Has the appropriate , competent, and independent peer review group approved?
Many of these experiments presented in this chapter to illustrate points are alike in two very important respects: they used as subjects the most vulnerable members of society, and the subjects themselves had no idea what the experiment was about. It would be easy to agree with some of the critics of experiments such as Willowbrook and the radiation studies using children and hold that the researchers performed acts that are morally reprehensible. On the other hand the medical researchers had reasons for conducting these experiments that at least they thought were convincing. If you now examine how the ethical theories could be applied in these cases it is possible to find that on some principles , e.g. Act-Utilitarian grounds , some of these experiments might be morally justifiable. If the aim is to minimize the disruption to society and bring about the greatest positive results for the mainstream majority then it would follow that on such grounds one ought to conduct research on the most vulnerable members of society.
Utilitarianism: in general would approve as long as the benefits to society are clear, subjects are protected and compensated.
Act Utilitarianism would permit research on vulnerable subjects to increase or protect the general welfare. Of course, the fact that Act-Utilitarian theories imply the moral permissibility of these experiments could be used to justify the experiments or reject Act-Utilitarian theories.
Kantian: subjects must be fully competent, rational and autonomous and provide their informed consent for the experiment .
Ross: similar to Kant
Natural Law Theory: applies the principle of the Double Effect and Totality
Rawls: permissive but would protect the vulnerable subjects, preserve liberty and provide advantage for the least well off.Hans Jonas, author
Philosophical Reflections on Experimenting with Human Subjects http://www.sfu.ca/~andrewf/jonas.pdf
Peter Singer, author
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© Copyright Philip A. Pecorino 2002. All Rights reserved.
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