Book Talk for For the Common Good: Philosophical Foundations of Research Ethics (OUP, 2021) with the Author 

Video recording (click here to watch it on YouTube):

Book Description (from

The foundations of research ethics are riven with fault lines emanating from a fear that if research is too closely connected to weighty social purposes an imperative to advance the common good through research will justify abrogating the rights and welfare of study participants. The result is an impoverished conception of the nature of research, an incomplete focus on actors who bear important moral responsibilities, and a system of ethics and oversight highly attuned to the dangers of research but largely silent about threats of ineffective, inefficient, and inequitable medical practices and health systems.

In For the Common Good: Philosophical Foundations of Research Ethics, Alex John London defends a conception of the common good that grounds a moral imperative with two requirements. The first is to promote research that generates the information necessary to enable key social institutions to effectively, efficiently, and equitably safeguard the basic interests of individuals. The second is to ensure that research is organized as a voluntary scheme of social cooperation that respects its various contributors’ moral claims to be treated as free and equal. Connecting research to the goals of a just social order grounds a framework for assessing and managing research risk that reconciles these requirements and justifies key oversight practices in non-paternalistic terms. Reconceiving research ethics as resolving coordination problems and providing credible assurance that these requirements are being met expands the issues and actors that fall within the purview of the field and provides the foundation for a more unified and coherent approach to domestic and international research

The book is open access. You may access the book at

Professor Alex John London
Clara L. West Professor of Ethics and Philosophy
Director, Center for Ethics and Policy
Carnegie Mellon University

Alex John London is the Clara L. West Professor of Ethics and Philosophy and Director of the Center for Ethics and Policy at Carnegie Mellon University. An elected Fellow of the Hastings Center, Professor London’s work focuses on ethical and policy issues surrounding the development and deployment of novel technologies in medicine, biotechnology and artificial intelligence, on methodological issues in theoretical and practical ethics, and on cross-national issues of justice and fairness. His book, For the Common Good: Philosophical Foundations of Research Ethics is available in hard copy from Oxford University Press and here in PDF as an open access title. His papers have appeared in Mind, The Philosopher’s Imprint, Science, JAMA, The Lancet, The BMJ, PLoS Medicine, Statistics In Medicine, The Hastings Center Report, and numerous other journals and collections. He is also co-editor of Ethical Issues in Modern Medicine, one of the most widely used textbooks in medical ethics.

Dr Calvin Ho
Associate Professor of Law & Co-Director of the Centre for Medical Ethics and Law, The University of Hong Kong

Professor Nancy S Jecker
Professor of Bioethics and Humanities, School of Medicine, University of Washington
Dr Robert Steel
Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Nebraska

Fees: Free of charge

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  • Public Talk
Date & Time
  • 29 Apr, 2022 9:00 pm - 10:10 pm

Live Zoom Session

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