- Editorial Note
It gives me great pleasure to introduce the December 2013 issue of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal—our ninety-second!—and to introduce myself as the new Editor-in-Chief of the journal. For almost a quarter of a century, from its special vantage point in Washington, D.C., and at Georgetown University’s Joseph and Rose Kennedy Institute of Ethics, the KIEJ has served as a leading source for practically engaged, policy-relevant philosophical work in bioethics, broadly construed. Under the expert stewardship of Robert Veatch and Carol Spicer, the journal built a top-quality research legacy. It is with pride and anticipation that I take the helm.
While I am committed to honoring and building on our past, I am also excited about shepherding the journal into the future. The ethical issues that press on us with the most urgency are changing rapidly, as is the discipline of bioethics. The ways in which we consume information and communicate ideas are also evolving at light speed. It is time for us to refurbish the journal, both technologically and intellectually.
We are working on increasing our online presence, and in creating a more interactive online environment for our readers. In the new year, we will also start publishing self-standing online reviews of books in practical ethics and science studies, reviewed by leading scholars.
Cutting-edge work in bioethics increasingly recognizes that we live in a globalized world, one in which the most pressing ethical issues surrounding human health and flourishing can only be addressed well when they are situated within their economic, material, and cultural context—a context always shaped and often fractured by gender, race, ability, class, and other lines of systematic difference and inequality. This recognition has led to increased bioethical attention to public health, social justice, and global and transnational issues. All of these shifts have moved the focus of bioethics beyond the decontextualized, dyadic patient-provider relationship that used to define its theoretical center. Concomitantly, the tools and [End Page vii] insights developed by feminist and anti-racist theory and disability studies are increasingly incorporated into the whole range of bioethical debates.
Meanwhile, ethically complex and socially relevant programs of scientific research are exploding. Consider how quickly things are moving in climate science, genetics, neuroscience, and psychopharmacology, for instance, and how much social import such research has. It is ever clearer that bioethicists need to pay close attention to the methods, results, and social positioning of science; it is equally increasingly clear that much contemporary science calls out for bioethical reflection and critique. We need to synthesize dimensions of the philosophical and social study of science into bioethics, as many exciting younger scholars are beginning to do.
Moving forward, the Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal will seek to feature in-depth pieces that engage this range of issues and methods (while remaining open to work in all areas of bioethics broadly construed). In this vein, we published a special issue on Science, Expertise, and Democracy last year (Vol. 22:2, June 2012), and we will soon publish a special issue on Regulating Bodies in the Obesity Era.
The current issue of the journal is a lovely example of this new focus and vision. Each of its four articles thoroughly resituates what have often been treated as individualistic and abstract bioethical concepts and issues within a rich background of inequalities, exigencies, and vulnerabilities; each attends to the concrete context of power, economics, and cultural meaning in which they actually get their moral grip. Furthermore, each of them substantially engages with scientific methodology and advances, exploring ethical issues raised by the practice of science or by new scientific achievements.
In “Rethinking Exploitation: A Process-Centered Account,” Lynn Jansen and Steven Wall rethink the notion of exploitation of participants in biomedical research. In contrast to Alan Wertheimer’s popular outcomes-based account, in which exploitation results in an unfair distribution of goods advantageous to the exploiter, Jansen and Wall argue that exploitation is best understood in terms of interactive processes, in which the exploiter disrespectfully uses the exploited as an instrument for advancing her own ends in ways...