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The moral primacy of the human being: a reply to Parker
  1. Gert Helgesson1,
  2. Stefan Eriksson2
  1. 1Stockholm Centre for Healthcare Ethics (CHE), Department of LIME, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
  2. 2Centre for Research Ethics and Bioethics (CRB), Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
  1. Correspondence to Dr Gert Helgesson, Stockholm Centre for Healthcare Ethics (CHE), Department of Learning, Informatics, Management, and Ethics, Karolinska Institutet, SE-171 77 Stockholm, Sweden; gert.helgesson{at}


In a previous paper in the Journal of Medical Ethics, the authors argued that the research ethical principle stating that the individual shall have priority over science, found in many guidelines, is utterly unclear and because of this should be explicated or otherwise deleted. In a recent commentary, Parker argued that this leaves us defending a position that would allow totalitarian regimes to pursue glory at the expense of its citizens. The present response addresses this and similar accusations.

  • ethical guidelines
  • ethics
  • institutional review boards
  • policy guidelines
  • primacy principle
  • research subjects
  • review committees
  • scientific research

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  • Funding The original paper criticised by Parker was part of a project funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.