Why we shouldn’t always compensate people for historical wrongs

10 July 2015

Human research ethics has often been formulated in response to scandals. However, the majority of research ethics cases are actually quite mundane. They involve committees making decisions about the likely balance between risks and benefits of the proposed research. Most researchers are well-intentioned and much research is conducted for public benefit. But what should we do when things go wrong? What about when evidence of wrongdoing is uncovered long after the event? Are survivors entitled to compensation? A current example of just such a case provides an opportunity to examine the issues involved.