The use of human beings as research subjects poses distinctive ethical issues. Subjects of medical research are exposed to risks of harm for the sake of generating scientific knowledge that can benefit future patients and society. Ethical analysis of the challenges posed by research involving human subjects requires careful attention to the contextual details of scientific experimentation. This book contains 22 essays by Franklin G. Miller on research ethics written over a 15-year
period. With the exception of the first essay, all have been previously published in bioethics and medical journals.
The book is arranged into four parts. Part One addresses a general ethical perspective on the protection of human subjects in clinical research, including paternalism in research regulation and acceptable limits to research risks. The essays in Part Two examine ethical issues in study design. It includes ethical analyses of controversial types of medical experimentation-studies that provoke psychiatric symptoms, induce infections, provide patients with placebos that withhold proven effective
treatments or administer fake invasive procedures, test experimental treatments in cancer patients who have exhausted all standard treatment options, and employ the use of deception to generate scientifically valid data. Part Three offers a systematic critique of "the therapeutic orientation" to
clinical trials and the principle of clinical equipoise, which is widely regarded as a fundamental norm for randomized treatment studies. Part Four takes up a range of ethical issues relating to informed consent for research participation, including examination of "the therapeutic misconception" and presentation of a novel approach to the validity of consent: "the fair transaction model." An abiding theme, developed in many of the essays is that the ethics of clinical research is importantly
different from the ethics of medical care.