Philosophy Colloquium: Aaron Segal
The Philosophy Department spring 2023 colloquium series is proud to present Aaron Segal (NIH).
Segal is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health. His research is primarily in normative ethics and bioethics.
Abstract: Many bioethicists have worried that offering payment to research participants risks exploiting them, and have accordingly sought to limit the extent of payment as an incentive in medical research. Instead of paying participants, they argue, we should seek to enroll altruists in medical research. In this paper, I argue that instead of minimizing or eliminating the risk of exploitation, the practice of recruiting altruists often exacerbates exploitation. I isolate a type of exploitation rooted in inequalities in bargaining power, and explain why altruists might appear to be immune to this type of exploitation. But in such cases, when the party with greater bargaining power knows that the other party will deliberate altruistically, their altruism partially constitutes the relevant inequality in bargaining power. I conclude by considering the implications of this argument for the practice of medical research: because researchers know (and even ensure) that participants will deliberate altruistically, much of the practice of medical research with human subjects is wrongfully exploitative.