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Critical Reviews™ in Biomedical Engineering
SJR: 0.207 SNIP: 0.376 CiteScore™: 0.79

ISSN Imprimir: 0278-940X
ISSN On-line: 1943-619X

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Critical Reviews™ in Biomedical Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/CritRevBiomedEng.v28.i34.310
pages 529-536

Wrongdoing in Biomedical Research: An Ethical Diagnosis and Prescription

Daniel E. Wueste
Department of Philosophy and Religion, Clemson University, 101 Hardin Hall, Box 341508, Clemson, SC


Attention is focused on wrongdoing as a practice-specific notion to be fleshed out by reference to the ethos of a practice such as biomedical research. Wrongdoing in this sense, which is not the same thing as scientific misconduct, has not received the attention it deserves. There are two reasons for this: (1) we have a tendency to be ethically reactive and (2) we tend to be preoccupied with questions that are highly charged politically, socially, and morally. Explaining this further, two types of ethical questions are distinguished — whether-we-ought questions and how-we-ought questions. Using the Baltimore case for purposes of illustration, it is argued that failure to attend to the latter sort of questions is detrimental to the practice of biomedical research. Answering such questions requires careful attention to the ethos of the practice of biomedical research as well as action on the part of practitioners, particularly those who serve as mentors to persons entering the profession.