The Research Subject as Wage Earner
Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics
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The practice of paying research subjects for participating in clinical trials has yet to receive an adequate moral analysis. Dickert and Grady argue for a wage payment model in which research subjects are paid an hourly wage based on that of unskilled laborers. If we accept this approach, what follows? Norms for just working conditions emerge from workplace legislation and political theory. All workers, including paid research subjects under Dickert and Grady's analysis, have a right to at least minimum wage, a standard work week, extra pay for overtime hours, a safe workplace, no fault compensation for work-related injury, and union organization. If we accept that paid research subjects are wage earners like any other, then the implications for changes to current practice are substantial.