David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Bioethics 26 (7):369-375 (2012)
While research on children is supported by many professional guidelines, international declarations and domestic legislation, when it is undertaken on children with no possibility of direct benefit it rests on shaky moral foundations. A number of authors have suggested that research enrolment is in the child's best interests, or that they have a moral duty or societal obligation to participate. However, these arguments are unpersuasive. Rather, I will propose in this paper that research participation by children seems most reasonable when considered as an act of solidarity; a form of identification with, and provision of practical assistance to, those who are less well off. This is an articulation of the view that many children, and their parents, seem to take seriously the suffering of others, and wish to assist in advancing other children's wellbeing. Perhaps, by fostering an environment in which children are encouraged to take solidarity seriously, participation in research which holds out substantial hope of benefit to those less well off would come to be perceived as a behavioural norm rather than an exceptional practice
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