Exploitation has become an important topic in recent discussions of biomedical and research ethics. This is due in no small measure to the influence of Alan Wertheimer's path-breaking work on the subject. This paper presents some objections to Wertheimer's account of the concept. The objections attempt to show that his account places too much emphasis on outcome-based considerations and too little on process-based considerations. Building on these objections, the paper develops an alternative process-centered account of the concept. This alternative account of exploitation takes as its point of departure the broadly Kantian notion that it is wrong to use another as an instrument for the advancement of one's own ends. It sharpens this slippery notion and adds a number of refinements to it. The paper concludes by arguing that process-centered accounts of exploitation better illuminate the ethical challenges posed by research on human subjects than outcome-centered accounts.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Issues, ethics and legal aspects
- Health(social science)
- Health Policy
- History and Philosophy of Science