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In favour of a Millian proposal to reform biomedical research

Abstract

One way to make philosophy of science more socially relevant is to attend to specific scientific practises that affect society to a great extent. One such practise is biomedical research. This paper looks at contemporary U.S. biomedical research in particular and argues that it suffers from important epistemic, moral and socio-economic failings. It then discusses and criticises existing approaches to improve on the status quo, most prominently by Thomas Pogge (a political philosopher), Joseph Stiglitz (a Nobel-prize winning economist) and James Robert Brown (a philosopher of science). Finally, it sketches an alternative proposal and argues for its superiority. The proposal has four components: changing the intellectual property regime; instituting independent clinical research; aligning innovators’ and patients’ interests; and enacting additional regulation.

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Acknowledgments

Research for this paper has been financially supported by two projects funded by the Spanishministry of education: FFI2008-01580 and CONSOLIDER INGENIO CSD2009-0056. My special thanks go to Katie Plaisance and Carla Fehr for extensive and highly helpful comments on previous versions of this paper and their editorial patience. Errors remain, as usual, my responsibility.

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Open Access This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0), which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.

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Reiss, J. In favour of a Millian proposal to reform biomedical research. Synthese 177, 427–447 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-010-9790-7

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Keywords

  • Biomedical research
  • John Stuart Mill
  • Global Justice
  • Methodology