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Rollin, B. E. (Ed.). (2006). Ethics and Research on Human Beings. In Science and Ethics (pp. 66–98). Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511617218.005


If one imagines an extraterrestrial researcher looking at the history of science and ethics in the twentieth century, one can imagine such an observer not being surprised at, and even having some sympathy for, the failure of the scientific community to engage issues of animal research and toxicology testing, animal cloning, and genetic engineering of animals. After all, he or she might affirm, there has been relatively little thought devoted to ethics and animals – most of what there is has been a product of the last quarter of the twentieth century, and it takes time for such new ideas to be incorporated into social thought.On the other hand, such a detached observer would almost certainly be shocked at the cavalier use of human beings in research during the same era, a use that in many cases was violative of absolutely fundamental social ethical commitments that have been thoroughly discussed for hundreds and even thousands of years. In an extraordinarily clear and perceptive statement made at the close of the trial of the infamous Nazi physicians who cavalierly used large number of prisoners, slave laborers, and concentration camp inmates in painful experiments, the chief prosecutor affirmed that “the most fundamental tenet of medical ethics and human decency [requires that] the subjects volunteer for the experiment after being informed of its nature and hazards.”Notice that in addition to citing field-specific “medical ethics” the prosecutor also refers to fundamental human decency.