Justice, Fairness, and Membership in a Class: Conceptual Confusions and Moral Puzzles in the Regulation of Human Subjects Research

Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 39 (3):488-501 (2011)
Abstract
This essay examines conceptual difficulties with one of the ways in which justice has been understood and applied the ethical and regulatory review of human research. Justice requires the fair distribution of the benefits and burdens of research. Class membership is seen as justifying inclusion in higher hazard-no benefit research from which members of potentially vulnerable classes, such as children, typically would be excluded. I argue that class membership does not do the justificatory work it is thought to do and that the use of class membership to justify inclusion in higher hazard-no benefit research leads to unjustified discrimination of sick children and offers special protections to healthy children
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