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  • Conflict of interest statement: No conflicts declared

Dr. Eric Chwang, University of Colorado at Boulder – Philosophy, HLMS 273 UCB 232 Boulder Colorado 80309-0232, United States. T: 303-492-2709, F: 303-492-8386, Email:


In this paper, I will argue that, while the ethical issues raised by cluster randomization can be challenging, they are not new. My thesis divides neatly into two parts. In the first, easier part I argue that many of the ethical challenges posed by cluster randomized human subjects research are clearly present in other types of human subjects research, and so are not novel. In the second, more difficult part I discuss the thorniest ethical challenge for cluster randomized research – cases where consent is genuinely impractical to obtain. I argue that once again these cases require no new analytic insight; instead, we should look to political philosophy for guidance. In other words, the most serious ethical problem that arises in cluster randomized research also arises in political philosophy.