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Medical Ethics

Exploiting Hope

How the Promise of New Medical Interventions Sustains Us--and Makes Us Vulnerable

by (author) Jeremy Snyder

Oxford University Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2020
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2020
    List Price

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We often hear stories of people in terrible and seemingly intractable situations who are preyed upon by someone offering promises of help. Frequently these cases are condemned in terms of "exploiting hope." These accusations are made in a range of contexts: human smuggling, employment relationships, unproven medical "cures." We hear this concept so often and in so many contexts that, with all its heavy lifting in public discourse, its actual meaning tends to lose focus. Despite its common use, it can be hard to understand precisely what is wrong about exploiting hope what can accurately be captured under this concept, and what should be done.

In this book, philosopher Jeremy Snyder offers an in-depth study of hope's exploitation. First, he examines the concept in the abstract, including a close look at how this term is used in the popular press and analysis of the concepts of exploitation and hope. This theory-based section culminates in a definitive account of what it is to exploit hope, and when and why doing so is morally problematic. The second section of the book examines the particularly dangerous cases in which unproven medical interventions target the most vulnerable: for example, participants in clinical trials, purchasing unproven stem cell interventions, "right to try" legislation, and crowdfunding for unproven medical interventions.

This book is essential reading for ethical theorists, policymakers, and health researchers, on a topic of growing visibility and importance.

About the author

Contributor Notes

Jeremy Snyder is Professor of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, where he has taught since 2007.