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Morality of the Past: How Two Committees Judged Past Human Subject Experiments

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In 1996, President Clinton ordered the formation of the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments (ACHRE), which undertook to evaluate the morality of a myriad of secret and publicized radiation experiments ranging from 1944 to 1974. The goal of this

In 1996, President Clinton ordered the formation of the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments (ACHRE), which undertook to evaluate the morality of a myriad of secret and publicized radiation experiments ranging from 1944 to 1974. The goal of this thesis is to analyze the ways in which that committee formed moral evaluations and the extent to which its strategies related to a broader historical and philosophical discourse. Here I attempt to describe two specific techniques of simplification the committee deploys in order to make a retrospective moral analysis possible. Although the techniques comprise specific problems, frameworks, subjective perspectives, and conceptual links, their unifying principle is the field of choices the techniques produce. In the first technique I outline, I argue that by focusing on the problem of historical relativism, the committee gains a platform through which it would be granted flexibility in making a distinction between moral wrongdoing and blameworthiness. In the second technique of simplification I outline, I argue that the committee's incorporation of a principle to reduce uncertainty as an ethical aim allow it to establish new ways to reconcile scientific aims with moral responsibility. In addition to describing the structure of these techniques, I also demonstrate how they relate to the specific experiments the analysts aim to evaluate, using both the ACHRE experiments as well as the Nuremberg Trial experiments as my examples. My hope is not to show why a given committee made a particular moral evaluation, or to say whether a decision was right or wrong, but rather to illustrate how certain techniques open up a field of choices that allow moral analysts to form retrospective moral judgments.

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2015-05

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Fools and Madmen: Public Health and Personal Autonomy in Vaccination Practices

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Vaccine opposition is a growing problem in developed countries where dropping vaccination rates threaten general public health by laying the foundation for resurgence and reemergence of previously eradicated infectious diseases. This thesis argues that the current movement is only the

Vaccine opposition is a growing problem in developed countries where dropping vaccination rates threaten general public health by laying the foundation for resurgence and reemergence of previously eradicated infectious diseases. This thesis argues that the current movement is only the most recent incarnation of opposition that has co-evolved with vaccine practices for the duration of their mutual histories. Part one provides a historical context for the current movement using the example of the development and deployment of the smallpox vaccine as a representative timeline of vaccine acceptance and opposition. Part two describes the current movement in the United States and the United Kingdom, interprets the reasons for the conclusions drawn by vaccine-concerned parents, and provides a framework for public health officials to approach the issues.

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2013-12

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Between persuasion and coercion: situating mandatory influenza vaccination policy of healthcare personnel (HCP)

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Vaccinations are important for preventing influenza infection. Maximizing vaccination uptake rates (80-90%) is crucial in generating herd immunity and preventing infection incidence. Vaccination of healthcare professionals (HCP) against influenza is vital to infection control in healthcare settings, given their consistent

Vaccinations are important for preventing influenza infection. Maximizing vaccination uptake rates (80-90%) is crucial in generating herd immunity and preventing infection incidence. Vaccination of healthcare professionals (HCP) against influenza is vital to infection control in healthcare settings, given their consistent exposure to high-risk patients like: those with compromised immune systems, children, and the elderly (Johnson & Talbot, 2011). Though vaccination is vital in disease prevention, influenza vaccination uptake among HCP is low overall (50% on average) (Pearson et al., 2006). Mandatory vaccination policies result in HCP influenza vaccination uptake rates substantially higher than opt-in influenza vaccination campaigns (90% vs. 60%). Therefore, influenza vaccination should be mandatory for HCP in order to best prevent influenza infection in healthcare settings. Many HCP cite individual objections to influenza vaccination rooted in personal doubts and ethical concerns, not best available scientific evidence. Nevertheless, HCP ethical responsibility to their patients and work environments to prevent and lower influenza infection incidence overrules such individual objections. Additionally, mandatory HCP influenza vaccination policies respect HCP autonomy via including medical and religious exemption clauses. While vaccination as a prevention method for influenza is logically sound, individuals’ actions are not always rooted in logic. Therefore, I analyze HCP perceptions and actions toward influenza vaccination in an effort to better explain low HCP uptake rates of the influenza vaccine and individual objections to influenza vaccination. Such analysis can aid in gaining HCP trust when implementing mandatory HCP influenza vaccination policies. In summary, mandatory HCP influenza vaccination policies are ethically justified, effective, scientifically-supported method of maximizing HCP influenza vaccine uptake and minimizing the spread of the influenza virus within healthcare settlings.

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2016