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The 2008 Declaration of Helsinki - first among equals in research ethics?


Rid (Schulz-Baldes), A; Schmidt, H (2010). The 2008 Declaration of Helsinki - first among equals in research ethics? Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 38(1):143-148.

Abstract

The World Medical Association's (WMA) Declaration of Helsinki is one of the most important and influential international research ethics documents. Its most recent 2008 version declares unprecedented universal primacy over all existing national or international ethical, legal, or regulatory requirements. This self-proclaimed status as a set of minimal ethical standards raises important questions about the Declaration's appropriate normative status. The present paper argues that the new claim of ethical primacy is problematic and makes the Declaration unnecessarily vulnerable to criticism. Future revisions of the Declaration should therefore remove this claim and strengthen the document, first, by clarifying its normative status as a set of strong default recommendations, to be followed unless there is compelling ethical reason to do otherwise; and second, by improving the substance of the Declaration through further precision, specification, and argument.

The World Medical Association's (WMA) Declaration of Helsinki is one of the most important and influential international research ethics documents. Its most recent 2008 version declares unprecedented universal primacy over all existing national or international ethical, legal, or regulatory requirements. This self-proclaimed status as a set of minimal ethical standards raises important questions about the Declaration's appropriate normative status. The present paper argues that the new claim of ethical primacy is problematic and makes the Declaration unnecessarily vulnerable to criticism. Future revisions of the Declaration should therefore remove this claim and strengthen the document, first, by clarifying its normative status as a set of strong default recommendations, to be followed unless there is compelling ethical reason to do otherwise; and second, by improving the substance of the Declaration through further precision, specification, and argument.

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12 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:01 Faculty of Theology > Center for Ethics
04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Biomedical Ethics and History of Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:170 Ethics
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2010
Deposited On:06 Dec 2010 13:58
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 14:16
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:1073-1105
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1748-720X.2010.00474.x
PubMed ID:20446992
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-36341

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