Archive | 2019
Developing Psychologically Compelling Understanding of the Involvement of Humans in Research
Research conducted on humans has a long history of ethical protections, with the Nuremberg trials in 1945 and 1946 triggering stronger protection across most jurisdictions. While there have been many reorientations and corrections in the emphasis of codes protecting human research participants, all have implicitly assumed a conception of human decision-making and the person that are psychologically not feasible. In this paper, we examine two problematic assumptions dominant in many research ethics guidelines: (1) implicit reliance on a model of classical rationality in conceptualizing the process whereby individuals make a decision of whether to give consent to participate in a study and (2) the assumption of autonomous subjects in the bioethical principle of autonomy and in operationalizing informed consent processes. For both of these problems, we outline theoretical psychological work that provides more compelling accounts of (1) human decision-making and rationality as bounded and ecological and (2) of personhood and agency as relational and emergent. We conclude by considering approaches to bioethics that are compatible with such conceptions of personhood and therefore provide a more satisfactory framework for a relational ethics.