The Belmont Principles of Autonomy, Beneficence, and Justice

Decent Essays

The Belmont principles are a set of guidelines the IRB uses to interpret whether or not a research is ethical. The three principles are Autonomy, Beneficence and Justice. First of all, autonomy requires researchers to treat the subjects as autonomous agents. That is to say, they need to respect the participants’ judgments and their freedom to act upon those judgments. Additionally, researchers cannot influence the participants’ judgements by withholding necessary information with no justifiable reason of doing so. It is also required within this principle to protect those with diminished autonomy. These vulnerable populations include (but not limited to) children, pregnant woman and prisoners. This is because vulnerability and informed consent do not go hand-to-hand. Secondly, the principle of beneficence requires researchers do no harm and …show more content…

For example, there is the case of the global pharmaceutical research in places like India and Uganda. To put the story in context, because the Belmont principles can be implemented in these countries, the IRB in the US will accept pharmaceutical research done there. The problem is that the same ethical principles cannot necessarily be applied there. For instance, when implementing beneficence, the protection of vulnerable populations is limited to that list. However, if the standard of living is completely different in India, can’t poor populations also be coerced into partaking in the research? Beneficence was defined rather loosely in the American context, disagreement among bioethicists happens when deciding whether or not a research meets the criteria. With this vacant area of interpretation kept in mind, there is some leeway for pharmaceutical researchers to take advantage of populations not mentioned in the report. The Belmont principles and the IRB system cannot always protect human subjects because they cannot be applied

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