Interfaces between bioethics and the empirical social sciences


Welcome message

As Director of the Pan American Health Organization I would like to welcome you as participants in this meeting of the International Advisory Board in Bioethics. I appreciate the effort and enthusiasm with which the members of the academic community have responded to our request for advice and support and I am pleased to say that the substance of the different abstracts submitted make us expect a very useful and profitable meeting. We have insisted that training of personnel in bioethical matters and appropriate scholarly work are fundamental components of those policies aimed at reducing inequities and improving the health of the people of the countries of the Americas. I am confident that the development of the main working lines in bioethics which you are helping us to establish will last throughout time.

With this in mind, I urge you to broaden the local view towards the international scene so as to find a common language in bioethical value, to work actively with governments and to help to mobilize organizational and financial resources for Bioethics. The bioethics cause has both a cosmopolitan and a local dimension. The two are important. We have to think globally but act locally, as Rene Dubois would say.

I believe that our activities in this field should focus initially on clinical bioethics as a starting point for a retrospective analysis. We have also to study carefully the new developments in biomedical research thay promise to have a profound influence on health and wellbeing. The conclusions reached after this assessment should then be clearly debated at the global Forum on Bioethics to be held in Brasilia during 2002 at which I hope to see you all.

I wish you a successful meeting.

Dr. George A. O. Alleyne
Director of the Pan American Health Organization


  • Foreword
  • Empirical Social Science Studies and Bioethics.
  • What is Bioethics? A history
  • Equity, Quality, and Patient Rights: Can they be reconciled?
  • Why Justice is Good for our Health
  • Pharmacogen-ethics
  • Unresolved Issues in Social Science Research
  • Placebo Controls in Clinical Trials when there are Known Effective Treatments
  • Polls and Focus Groups in Bioethics
  • The relevance of Empirical Research for Bioethics