Tom Beauchamp, Ph.D.
Senior Research Scholar at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics; Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University
Dr. Beauchamp serves as Professor of Philosophy and Senior Research Scholar, Kennedy Institute of Ethics. He was born in Austin, Texas. He took graduate degrees from Yale University and The Johns Hopkins University, where he received his Ph.D. in 1970. He then joined the faculty of the Philosophy Department at Georgetown University, and in the mid-70s accepted a joint appointment at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics. In late 1975, he joined the staff of the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research, where he wrote the bulk of The Belmont Report (1978).
Dr. Beauchamp's research interests are in the ethics of human-subjects research, the place of universal principles and rights in biomedical ethics, methods of bioethics, Hume and the history of modern philosophy, and business ethics. Beauchamp co-edited (with George G. Brenkert) The Oxford Handbook of Business Ethics, and edited a 1,000-page book of original articles—The Oxford Handbook of Ethics and Animals—a comprehensive, state-of-the-art presentation of the field not possible until very recently.
Publications include the following co-authored works: Principles of Biomedical Ethics (OUP, 7th edition, 2012), A History and Theory of Informed Consent (OUP, Oxford, 1986), The Human Use of Animals (OUP, Oxford, 2nd edition, 2008), and Philosophical Ethics (McGraw-Hill, 3rd edition, 2001). Publications also include a number of edited and co-edited anthologies and over 140 scholarly articles in journals and books. Many of his articles were republished early in 2010 by the Oxford University Press under the title Standing on Principles: Collected Essays.
Dr. Beauchamp is one of three editors of the Clarendon Hume, a critical edition of the works of David Hume under continuous publication by Clarendon Press, Oxford. Beauchamp has himself issued three volumes in the Clarendon Hume. All deal with Hume's theories of human nature, the limits of knowledge, moral philosophy, moral psychology, and philosophy of religion, based on Hume's works An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals, An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, A Dissertation on the Passions, and The Natural History of Religion. Beauchamp's co-authored book Hume and the Problem of Causation (Oxford University Press, 1981) has been widely discussed in the Hume literature.
In 2004, Dr. Beauchamp was given the Lifetime Achievement Award of the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities (ASBH) in recognition of outstanding contributions and significant publications in bioethics and the humanities. In 2003, he was presented Georgetown University's Career Recognition Award, which is awarded to a faculty member in the University each year for distinguished research across an entire career. Earlier, in 1994, Indiana University awarded Beauchamp its "Memorial Award for Furthering Greater Understanding and Exchange of Opinions between the Professions of Law and Medicine."
NIH Challenge Grant
Dr. Beauchamp, along with a small group of scholars at Johns Hopkins University, recently received a Challenge Grant as part of the stimulus package passed by Congress in 2009. This team will work on the conceptual, moral, and policy dimensions of the distinction between research and treatment. Upon the project's completion, a report will be made to federal authorities on the state of current federal requirements governing human-subjects research and the need to revise them.
This work has the potential to significantly alter the way we understand the difference between clinical research using human subjects, and clinical practice in which innovative treatments are used with patients. This work will advance Dr. Beauchamp's interest in federal requirements for the review of research protocols and needed revisions in the system.
Dr. Beauchamp has also just completed work on a grant with a bioethics group at the University of Pennsylvania that studied the voluntariness of parental decisions in consenting to pediatric cancer trials. The work will lead to several publications, although only one is currently at the press. The work has an empirical dimension, a philosophical dimension, and a policy dimension.
Highlighted Publication: Where Are We in the Justification of Research Involving Chimpanzees?
Tom L. Beauchamp, Hope R. Ferdowsian, John P. Gluck, "Where Are We in the Justification of Research Involving Chimpanzees?", Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 22:3, 2012.
On December 15, 2011, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Committee on the Use of Chimpanzees in Biomedical and Behavioral Research issued a final report commissioned by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It changed the landscape of discussion about the necessity of using chimpanzees in research. The Committee advanced three principles of scientifically warranted research on chimpanzees, but NIH's statement of task provided inadequate opportunity for the Committee to investigate moral problems and their implications for public policy. The IOM Committee's report is a landmark document, but it has weaknesses in its justificatory framework, largely resulting from the Committee's narrow remit from NIH and IOM. We analyze cases mentioned in the report and argue that numerous central ethical issues are neglected, especially ones of justification. Additionally, we consider whether the principles offered by the Committee could be used as criteria governing the use of other animals in biomedical and behavioral research.