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Book and Media Reviews
April 6, 2011

Standing on Principles: Collected Essays

JAMA. 2011;305(13):1356. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.390

Tom Beauchamp, author of Standing on Principles, is also the coauthor of Principles of Biomedical Ethics, often referred to simply as “Beauchamp and Childress”—the most widely taught and most frequently cited bioethics book. Beauchamp is likewise an internationally renowned scholar of the philosophical work of David Hume (1711-1776), the most influential ethicist of the Scottish Enlightenment.

Standing on Principles begins with 2 chapters providing a scholarly account of the 1978 Belmont Report of the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research, for which Beauchamp served as staff philosopher. This presidential commission created momentum for effective, enduring change in public policy: current federal regulation of research involving human participants. The Belmont Report became and has remained the intellectual touchstone in the work of clinical investigators and institutional review boards. The national commission also shaped the distinctive character of bioethics as scholarly, applicable to clinical and research questions in medicine, and critically appraising and improving health policy. Beauchamp's historical account of the origins of the Belmont Report situates it in the context of the codes and statements of ethics.