Advertisement

Health Care Analysis

, 19:282 | Cite as

The Biobank as an Ethical Subject

  • Sean Cordell
Original Article

Abstract

This paper argues that a certain way of thinking about the function of the biobank—about what it does and is constructed for as a social institution aimed at ‘some good’—can and should play a substantial role in an effective biobanking ethic. It first exemplifies an ‘institution shaped gap’ in the current field of biobanking ethics. Next the biobank is conceptualized as a social institution that is apt for a certain kind of purposive functional definition such that we know it by what it does and what it is designed to do. This purpose is then characterized further as essentially incorporating the human goods the institution is designed to serve, such that it plays a useful and indispensible role in how it should operate, i.e. in the ethics and governance of biobanking. Finally the ethical scope and limitations of such a theory is clarified by a discussion of some theoretical objections and suggested practical examples of its application.

Keywords

Biobanks Biobanking Function Ethics Institutions 

References

  1. 1.
    Aristotle (1998). Politics (E. Barker, Trans.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Elger, B. (2010). Ethical issues of human genetic databases. UK: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Foot P. (1978). Virtues and vices, and other essays in moral philosophy. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Geach P. (1967). Good and evil. In P. Foot (Ed.), Theories of ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Gibbons, S. (2007). Are UK genetic databases governed adequately? A comparative legal analysis. Legal Studies, 27, 312–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Hannson, M. G., Dillner, J., Bartram, C. R., Carlson, J. A., & Helgesson, G. (2006). Should donors be allowed to give broad consent to future biobank research? Lancet Oncology, 7, 266–269.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Hunter, K. G., & Laurie, G. (2009). Involving publics in biobank governance: Moving beyond existing approaches. In H. Widdows & C. Mullen (Eds.), The governance of genetic information: Who decides? Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    MacIntyre, A. (1973). The essential contestability of some social concepts. Ethics, 84, 1–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Maschke, K. J. (2006). Alternative consent approaches for biobank research. The lancet Oncology, 7, 193–194.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Oakley, J., & Cocking, D. (2002). Virtue ethics and professional roles. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Rothstein, M. A. (2005). Expanding the ethical analysis of biobanks. Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, 33, 89–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Sándor, J., & Bárd, P. (2009). The legal regulation of biobanks national report: Hungary. Budapest: Center for Ethics and Law in Biomedicine (CELAB).Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Skolbekken, J., Ursin, L., Solberg, B., Christensen, E., & Borgunn, Y. (2005). Not worth the paper it’s written on? Informed consent and biobank research in a Norwegian context. Critical Public Health, 15, 335–347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Swanton, C. (2007). Virtue ethics, role ethics, and business ethics. In R. L. Walker & P. J. Ivanhoe (Eds.), Working virtue. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Thomson, J. J. (2008). Normativity. USA: Open Court.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Winickoff, D. E. (2007). Partnership in UK biobank. A third way for genomic property? Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, 35, 451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Widdows, H., & Cordell, S. (2010). Constructing effective ethical frameworks for biobanking. Dilemata: International Journal of Applied Ethics, 4, 15–31.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Widdows, H., & Cordell, S. (2011). Why communities and their goods matter: Illustrated with the example of biobanks. Public Health Ethics, 4, 14–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of BirminghamBirminghamUK

Personalised recommendations