Looking back and judging our predecessors

Abstract
: The Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments has correctly argued that persons and institutions can sometimes be held responsible for actions taken more than a half-century ago, when practices and policies on the use of research subjects were strikingly different. In reaching its conclusions, the Committee did not altogether adhere to the language and commitments of its own ethical framework. In its Final Report, the Committee emphasizes judgments of wrongdoing, to the relative neglect of culpability; it discusses mitigating conditions that are exculpatory, but does not provide a thoroughgoing assessment of either culpability or exculpation. However, the Committee's shortcomings are mild in comparison to the deficiencies in the "Report of the UCSF Ad Hoc Fact Finding Committee on World War II Human Radiation Experiments" of the University of California at San Francisco. The latter report reaches no significant judgments of either wrongdoing or culpability. The findings that should have been reached by both committees are discussed
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