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September 1974

Ethics and Editors

Author Affiliations

Department of Pediatrics Center for Health Sciences University of Wisconsin Madison, WI 53706

Am J Dis Child. 1974;128(3):422-423. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1974.02110280152026

To the Editor.—I read your marginal comment in the April issue of the Journal (127:471-472) with interest. I found myself impressed with your historical arguments, but at the same time dissatisfied.

My interpretation of the history of experimentation with human subjects is quite different. I do not believe that the current reaction is typical American antiintellectualism but a completely predictable consequence of history, particularly the history of children. It is quite rational that at this time we have become concerned about the ethics of experimentation. At a time when the great plagues of history have been conquered, the social good of human experimentation has begun to have diminishing returns. We have begun to turn away from the utilitarian ethic even though it continues to guide most research efforts.

Medieval children were a part of the family unit, no different from but of less value than adults. Children began to

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