David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Ethics and Behavior 2 (3):203 – 214 (1992)
In response to Korn, Huelsman, and Reed's (1992)question, "Who defines those interests, and how serious must the setback be?" (p. 126), we argue that a wrongful (unjust) harm (a setback of interest) is not equivalent to a hurt (a temporary distressing mental state) and that the interests of importance are welfare interests (general means to our ulterior aims), not just a desire to avoid unpleasant mental states (hurts). To set back a welfare interest is to reverse its course or to impede, thwart, defeat, or doom it. It is the primary responsibility of the investigator to define both welfare interests and the risk of harm. An informed consent - one with substantial understanding, in substantial absence of control by others, and given intentionally - allows participants to autonomously authorize participation in research, including their toleration of acts of mental discomfort or distress during an experiment. Not only were our participants not wrongfully harmed, they benefited and were willing to volunteer for future research. No strong evidence has been advanced or linked to guided imagery in a way that would justify its restraint; to so claim evokes a standard of legal paternalism that fails to respect participants' competence and autonomy to choose to participate in research on rape using guided imagery.
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