Getting the ethical ideals right in international health research
To stimulate further ethical progress, Benatar and Singer offer some (fairly obvious) ethical principles, and suggest (less obviously) that these principles are based on the ethical value of solidarity. Benatar and Singer write that, first, research undertaken in poor countries should contribute to improved health care in the community in which the research is undertaken. Second, research should enable, or empower, host country researchers to solve their own research problems in the future. Behind these principles stands solidarity, a value they see expressed in:
[A]ttitudes and determination to work for the common good across the globe in an era when interdependence is greater than ever and in which progress should be defined as enhancing capabilities and social justice rather than sustaining dependency.
It is refreshing to see this attempt to put solidarity back into currency among those involved in bioethics. On the other hand, it is somewhat sad to be reminded, in 2010, of ethical principles that should not even require a reminder, and to become conscious of the relative disuse into which the notion of solidarity has fallen. But maybe getting the ideals right is the first step to getting the practices right.