The Re-emergence of the Liberal-Communitarian Debate in Bioethics: Exercising Self-Determination and Participation in Biomedical Research

- Journal of Medicine and Philosophy
Author/s: -Christensen, Erik
Journal: Journal of Medicine and Philosophy
Year: 2012
Volume: 37
Issue: 3
Pages: 255-276

Biomedical research has brought to the fore the issue of which rights and duties we have to each other and society. Several scholars have advocated reframing the notion of participation, arguing that we have a moral duty to participate in research from which we all benefit. However, less attention has been paid to how we justify and defend the concept of self-determination and what the implications are in a biomedical setting. The author discusses the value and importance of self-determination on the basis of the framework of the liberal-communitarian debate. Biobank research is used as an example of a project wherein, through our participation, we confirm our sense of belonging to society and acknowledge our mutual dependence on each other. We need a richer concept of self-determination that encompasses both liberal and communitarian insights in order to make sense of the value we attach to self-determination.