The Research Imperative Revisited: Considerations for Advancing the Debate Surrounding Medical Research as Moral Imperative
Glass, Kathleen Cranley
Perspectives in biology and medicine 2010 Summer; 53(3): 373-87
Medical research is frequently regarded as not only laudable, but even obligatory. However, the moral foundation for such an obligation is far from clear. Lively debate concerning the viability of an obligation to conduct and support medical research is transpiring among a small number of scholars speaking from a variety of backgrounds, yet the current discussion is predominantly situated within several discrete academic and professional circles, allowing only sporadic engagement within and between scholarly disciplines and the medical realm. We aim to lay the groundwork for a focused critique of the "research imperative" by examining (1) its commitments within ideologies of science, medicine, and progress: and (2) its normative theoretical underpinnings. Our analysis finds no solid grounding for the research imperative and exposes problems in the attitudes and arguments supporting it. We believe these concerns present compelling reasons for devoting greater critical attention to the research imperative and to the morality of the medical research enterprise as a whole.
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