Victor C Wolemonwu

Project title: Immanuel Kant’s Theory of Dignity: Implications for Biomedical Research with Human Subjects in Nigeria

The aim of my PhD thesis is to employ Immanuel Kant’s theory of dignity as the appropriate normative principle to evaluate the ethical challenges (which include exploitation, exposure of the research participant to unjustifiable risks and the inducement of the participant to consent to research protocols) that arise because of the involvement of human subjects in biomedical research in Nigeria. But can Kant’s theory address these ethical challenges? This question is necessary owing to the claims of bioethicists (Tom Beauchamp, John Harris, George Kateb, etc.) that Kant’s ethical stance is inapplicable in bioethical discourse. This is because Kant’s account of autonomy and choice seems to exclude people not considered ‘rational’, to ignore the roles social and economic conditions play in shaping our choices and decisions, and affect our responsibility for choices made.  I aim to try to address these challenges in a defence of Kant.

My project is supervised by Prof Christopher Bennett (Philosophy) and Dr Annamaria Carusi (MHS)