Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 421–431 | Cite as

Body matters: rethinking the ethical acceptability of non-beneficial clinical research with children

  • Eva De Clercq
  • Domnita Oana Badarau
  • Katharina M. Ruhe
  • Tenzin Wangmo
Scientific Contribution


The involvement of children in non-beneficial clinical research is extremely important for improving pediatric care, but its ethical acceptability is still disputed. Therefore, various pro-research justifications have been proposed throughout the years. The present essay aims at contributing to the on-going discussion surrounding children’s participation in non-beneficial clinical research. Building on Wendler’s ‘contribution to a valuable project’ justification, but going beyond a risk/benefit analysis, it articulates a pro-research argument which appeals to a phenomenological view on the body and vulnerability. It is claimed that children’s bodies are not mere physical objects, but body-subjects due to which children, as persons, can contribute to research that may hold no direct clinical benefit to them even before they can give informed consent.


Body Children Ethics Phenomenology Non-beneficial research Vulnerability 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eva De Clercq
    • 1
  • Domnita Oana Badarau
    • 1
  • Katharina M. Ruhe
    • 1
  • Tenzin Wangmo
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Biomedical EthicsUniversity of BaselBaselSwitzerland

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