Institutional review boards (IRB) normally require of a morally defensible clinical trial that any trial participant will benefit from the inquiry, or at least not be exposed to a significant risk of having their prospects worsened by participating. Stage 1 HIV cure trials tend not to meet this requirement. Does that show them to be morally indefensible? Utilitarian thinking about this question supports a negative answer. But one might reasonably expect a Kantian moral theory to support the conclusion that exposing trial participants to a significant risk of their prospects being worsened by their participation to be morally indefensible, on grounds that this would be a clear case of using a person as a mere means. In this paper, I argue, drawing on Kantian contractualist thinking, that requiring the risk/benefit ratio for participants be positive if a trial is to be morally defensible does not in fact gain any support from Kantian thinking about morality.
- Research Ethics
This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/
Statistics from Altmetric.com
Funding National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (grant no. 1 R01 AI114617-01A1; 1 R56 AI114617-01).
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.