This entry presents the principle of beneficence in research involving humans. The concept is most concrete as used in medical research, which is the focus of this entry, but the concept is also central to social science research ethics. Beneficence is usefully detailed in the ethical theory of American ethicists Tom L. Beauchamp and James F. Childress. Their theory has been dominant worldwide for 40 years and has continued to develop in the eight editions of their book Principles of Biomedical Ethics.

Protection of Human Subjects in Biomedical Research—the Belmont Report

Experimental research on human beings attracted notoriety during the 1946–1947 Doctors’ Trial in Nuremberg, Germany, on war crimes in concentration camps. The resulting Nuremberg Code (1947) influenced the Helsinki Declaration (1964), and together these documents offer ...

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