Defending the Distinction Between Research and Medical Care

Paul J. Litton, University of Missouri School of Law


Chiong's (2006) article represents a valuable contribution to ongoing debates about the principle of clinical equipoise as an ethical requirement for medical research. He takes an intriguing position, rejecting the equipoise principle while arguing for its supposed basis, namely, that the ethics of clinical research are provided by the ethics of medical care. I endorse his arguments against equipoise as well as the ethical requirements for research and their justification that Chiong puts forth; they echo arguments I have made with Frank Miller (Litton and Miller 2005). For this commentary, I will focus on my disagreements, highlighting why his arguments against the "difference position"-that the ethics of research are distinct from the ethics of clinical care-should fail to persuade.