Epistemic Diversity, Ethics, and the Optimal Timing of Clinical Trials
null, Alex John London

September 29, 2023, 3:30am - 5:30am
The Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh

1008 Cathedral of Learning -10th floor
4200 Fifth Avenue
Pittsburgh 15213
United States

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ALS - Alex John London

Title: Epistemic Diversity, Ethics, and the Optimal Timing of Clinical Trials


Ethically acceptable research with human participants should satisfy at least two ethical criteria: it should produce sufficient social value to justify its conduct and it should respect the basic rights and interests of study participants.  The concept of clinical equipoise has risen to prominence because it purports to reconcile these objectives by connecting the conditions for initiating and terminating a trial to a state of uncertainty within the relevant community of experts.  In this talk I present a method for representing the epistemic state of a community of experts and I show that distributions of expert assessment that are likely to be regarded as canonical examples of equipoise (especially states that reflect some notion of “equal” distribution) fail to satisfy one or more of the above ethical criteria.  I consider distributions of expert assessment that reflect healthy vs unhealthy epistemic diversity and draw some general conclusions about the optimal timing of clinical trials.  Time permitting, I will show how these results provide further support for conceptualizing trials that use response adaptative randomization as modeling the dynamical change in the distribution of assessments among different experts in a community rather than as the dynamics of belief change of some group agent or meta-expert.

This talk will also be available live streamed on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrRp47ZMXD7NXO3a9Gyh2sg.

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