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Do we need research ethics committees?
  1. Mark Sheehan, Associate Editor
  1. Correspondence to Dr Mark Sheehan, The Ethox Centre, Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, Old Road Campus, Rosemary Rue Building Headington, Oxford OX3 7LG; mark.sheehan{at}

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This issue of the journal sees a number of exchanges on significant ethical problems. ‘Nudges’ have attracted a good deal of attention recently in the context of the ethics of public health interventions. Martin Wilkinson (see page 486) writes a guest editorial introducing important debate on Yashar Saghai's featured article, Salvaging the concept of nudge (see page 487, Editor’s choice). Also, Timothy Murphy (see page 529) locks horns with Katrien Devolder (see page 533) and Ezio Di Nucci (see page 537) on the doctrine of double effect as it applies to research on embryos.

One of the exchanges published here involves the legitimacy of research ethics review. Murray Dyck and Gary Allen (see page 517) claim that only in a small minority of cases is research ethics review warranted and that, in the main, responsibility for the ethical conduct of research should lie with the researchers themselves.

However, David Hunter (see page 521) Mark Israel (see …

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