Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Distinguishing treatment from research: a functional approach
  1. T Lewens
  1. Correspondence to:
 T Lewens
 Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, Free School Lane, Cambridge CB2 1TL, UK; tml1000{at}


The best way to distinguish treatment from research is by their functions. This mode of distinction fits well with the basic ethical work that needs to be carried out. The distinction needs to serve as an ethical flag, highlighting areas in which the goals of doctors and patients are more likely than usual to diverge. The distinction also allows us to illuminate and understand some otherwise puzzling elements of debates on research ethics: it shows the peculiarity of exclusive conceptions of the distinction between research and treatment; it allows us to frame questions about therapeutic obligations in the research context, and it allows us to consider whether there may be research obligations in the therapeutic context.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.