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6. See note 4, Hurst 2008:192.
7. This paper does not provide an overview of the most common definitions. This has been done excellently elsewhere. See note 4, Hurst 2008.
8. Council for International Organizations of Medical Science. International Ethical Guidelines for Biomedical Research Involving Human Subjects, 2002; available at http://www.cioms.ch/frame_guidelines_nov_2002.htm (last accessed 22 April 2008).
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10. See note 9, Hobbes 1985:186.
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12. It is interesting to note that the most recent definition in the academic literature by Samia Hurst, a medical doctor, focuses exclusively on our external element. “[V]ulnerability should be understood as an identifiably increased likelihood of incurring additional or greater wrong.” See note 4, Hurst 2008:195.
13. Silvers A. Historical vulnerability and special scrutiny. The American Journal of Bioethics 2004;4(3):56–7 at p. 56.
14. See note 13, Silvers 2004:56.
15. We are excluding here the possibility that people could have the means and the ability to protect themselves, but choose not to, thereby making themselves vulnerable voluntarily.
16. The World Medical Association. Declaration of Helsinki. Ethical Principles for Medical Research Involving Human Subjects, adopted by the 18th WMA General Assembly, Helsinki, Finland, June 1964, latest revision by the WMA General Assembly, Tokyo, 2004; available at http://www.wma.net/e/policy/b3.htm (last accessed 9 July 2008). The latest amendment was made by the 52nd WMA General Assembly, Edinburgh, Scotland, October 2000.
17. Forster H, Emanuel E, Grady C. The 2000 revision of the Declaration of Helsinki: A step forward or more confusion? The Lancet 2001;358(9291):1449–53.
18. See note 4, Hurst 2008:193.
19. Resnik DB. Research subjects in developing countries and vulnerability. The American Journal of Bioethics 2004;4(3):63–4.
20. The first points look at benefits in the narrow sense, excluding justice issues, which are covered by the fourth point.
21. See note 16, The World Medical Association 2004.
This paper was prepared as part of GenBenefit, a research project funded by the European Community's Sixth Framework Programme, but reflects only the authors’ views. We are grateful to the members of the GenBenefit Group and Armin Schmidt for comments on an earlier draft.