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The dilemma regarding the AIDS inflicted citizens in Africa is a modern day paradox.

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Introduction

Hutson, Makary Ethics Paper December 8, 2003 The dilemma regarding the AIDS inflicted citizens in Africa is a modern day paradox. On one hand, mankind can achieve huge strides in the research necessary to control the malady which has already killed so many. On the other, modern civilization risks the exploitation of fellow human beings born into a more unfortunate and primitive lifestyle deficient in modern healthcare. In general, the debate which takes precedence above all others is the question of equality in the context of morality. According to the traditional perspective of Immanuel Kant constructed in his Metaphysics of Morals, the universal presumption of moral principles is that they apply to all rational autonomous beings at all places and at all times. Thus, Kant would argue that the medical care provided to trial participants in Africa should be equivalent, or at least comparable, to the treatment offered to citizens in more advanced societies as long as it does not compromise the rational autonomy of the people involved. ...read more.

Middle

To fulfill the third principle, an action cannot violate the categorical imperative. Otherwise, the decision cannot be considered as a moral action. The moral law, as Kant explained, is a universal formula that ensures all actions are undertaken with pure motives without consideration of the consequences. When deciding whether or not to give Africans the same health benefits that AIDS phase II trial volunteers would receive in other countries, even if they are very expensive, it is important to determine whether the choice could be applied universally. In other words, Kant would compare the options faced by pharmaceutical companies by placing all of them in the categorical imperative, and observe which options are inherent contradictions. When weighing the options using the categorical imperative, the results once again suggests that providing African volunteers with equivalent treatments takes precedence over all other options. The concept of appropriate treatment, if determined only on monetary, social and political status, would seemingly contradict itself if it were considered a universal law. Kant would argue that by issuing care by status, people would be applying a different standard to their own behavior than they would want applied to themselves and everyone else. ...read more.

Conclusion

To this argument, Kant would refute the idea that the term appropriate should not be applied universally. In his perspective, all humans are rational autonomous agents who deserve the same treatment. If a law or rule cannot be applied universally, a.k.a. fails the categorical imperative, then it should not be considered moral. The philosophy of the Metaphysics of Morals appears to lend itself nicely to the dilemma of conducting phase II trials in Africa by clearly addressing the major moral concerns involved while at the same time respecting the complexity of the conflict. Kant would recognize that other people's livelihoods and incomes can be considered when deciding whether or not to provide expensive treatments in Africa, as long as the ultimate decision does not violate moral law. Pharmaceutical companies must insure that they are not manipulating or violating the rational autonomy of their possible test subjects in Africa, but may still consider other variables such as profits and benefits to society. Consequently, pharmaceutical companies appear to have a moral duty to provide adequately equal care to all phase II trial participants in Africa, providing they take steps to insure they are not violating anyone's rational autonomy in the process. Hutson 1 ...read more.

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