Should we presume moral turpitude in our children? – Small children and consent to medical research

Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 24 (2):121-129 (2003)
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When children are too young to make their ownautonomous decisions, decisions have to be madefor them. In certain contexts we allow parentsand others to make these decisions, and do notinterfere unless the decision clearly violatesthe best interest of the child. In othercontexts we put a priori limits on whatkind of decisions parents can make, and/or whatkinds of considerations they have to take intoaccount. Consent to medical research currentlyfalls into the second group mentioned here. Wewant to consider and ultimately reject one ofthe arguments put forward for putting medicalresearch into the second category. We willargue that some objections to children'sparticipation in research are either based onan implausibly restrictive conception of whatis in fact in the child's best interests orthat there is an implicit and false premisehidden in this argument; i.e., the premise thatour children have so deeply fallen into moralturpitude that we must assume that they wouldnot want to fulfill their moral obligations,or, that they will grow up to be morallydeficient and will then wish not to have actedwell while a child.



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John Terence Harris
Birkbeck College

References found in this work

Anarchy, State, and Utopia.Robert Nozick - 1974 - New York: Basic Books.
Are there any natural rights?H. L. A. Hart - 1955 - Philosophical Review 64 (2):175-191.
The Patient as Person.Paul Ramsey & Catherine Lyons - 1973 - Religious Studies 9 (1):114-115.
Consent and end of life decisions.John Harris - 2003 - Journal of Medical Ethics 29 (1):10-15.

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