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April 15, 1968

Law and the Social Role of Science

JAMA. 1968;204(3):275. doi:10.1001/jama.1968.03140160085040

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Most physicians are familiar with the many areas in which their medical knowledge confronts the law and with the legal issues surrounding clinical research. They are not as familiar as they should be, however, with the legal problems arising out of research in the behavioral, rather than natural, sciences.

There is an interesting difference in emphasis between controls for medical and for behavioral research. The emphasis in the latter is on the protection of the right of the subject's privacy. In medical research, though privacy is respected, the emphasis is on protection of the subject's health. The overall goals designed to require well planned and conducted research programs are rather similar, however.

Little hope is expressed that the methods of contemporary science provide any pat analogy that can be taken over bodily from one or more of the natural sciences for the modernization and enrichment of legal inquiry—one form of