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04.07.2016 | Original Article | Ausgabe 1/2018

Health Care Analysis 1/2018

Examining the Social Benefits Principle in Research with Human Participants

Health Care Analysis > Ausgabe 1/2018
David B. Resnik


The idea that research with human participants should benefit society has become firmly entrenched in various regulations, policies, and guidelines, but there has been little in-depth analysis of this ethical principle in the bioethics literature. In this paper, I distinguish between strong and weak versions and the social benefits principle and examine six arguments for it. I argue that while it is always ethically desirable for research with human subjects to offer important benefits to society (or the public), the reasonable expectation of substantial public benefit should be a necessary condition for regarding research as ethical only when (a) it imposes more than minimal risks on non-consenting subjects; or (b) it is supported by public resources.

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