Jeremy SnyderDec 1, 2020
How the Promise of New Medical Interventions Sustains Us--and Makes Us Vulnerable
Oxford University Press 2020
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 Exploiting Hope: How the Promise of New Medical Interventions Sustains Us--and Makes Us Vulnerable (Oxford UP, 2020), 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.
Claire Clark is a medical educator, historian of medicine, and associate professor in the University of Kentucky’s College of Medicine. She teaches and writes about health behavior in historical context.