Risk and Benefit

Risk, wrong and harm. What might be considered in evaluating harm in research? How does one weigh moral wrongs (e.g., deception)? How is degree of risk assessed? How do various populations perceive risk? How can procedures be made safe? How is safety judged? These questions are usually context specific.

Benefit and promise of research. What benefits may arise from research? How may benefits be estimated and maximized? What kinds of collateral benefits can be offered to subjects or their community? What are the effects of collateral benefits? What makes research socially useful? What makes research participation beneficial (or harmful) to the participants themselves and to the larger society? How do researchers’ ideas about what is beneficial differ from the views of subjects or their communities?

Risk/benefit assessment. How are the benefits of increased knowledge weighed against the risks of harm to individuals or groups, or cost to society. How are these factors identified and weighed? How is risk justified? The methodology of decision theory in this area has rarely been applied to examination of ethical issues in human research, but is relevant.

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