By Talcott Parsons

ISBN-10: 0029239907

ISBN-13: 9780029239902

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For example, the concern with child development and various aspects of education involves very sensitive areas. Survey research and various forms of participant observation have been expanding rapidly, and these matters will undoubtedly call for careful scrutiny in the future. This paper will not be concerned specifically with the medical problem, but will stress the continuity of the impingement of medical research on human subjects with that of research in other areas. There is a sense in which our tendency to underplay such ethical problems arises from the early predominance in research of the physical sciences, where injury to the chemical substances in the test tube does not raise ethical issues, though the cost of the substances may be relevant, as may also be the possibility of an explosion that would injure persons or property.

I think it is in certain respects. This issue, however, will not be involved in the present discussion. Subject to these limitations, then, I think it is important to distinguish three principal types of hierarchically asymmetrical roles. The first concerns the relation between the incumbent of elective office in the democratic association as that concept was reviewed above, including of course, governmental office, and other members. The incumbent of an office in this sense, for the period of his incumbency, stands in certain relations of superiority to the ordinary constituent who is "only a member" of the association.

At the very minimum, this should concern decisions about when professional help is indicated and when it can safely be dispensed with. Of course the matter of the concern is not only with the decision maker's own state of health or illness but of others close to him, in particular, members of his family. There is a considerable range of situations in which self-care or non-professional care in the household is not only undertaken but not infrequently proves to be adequate. Lay judgments in these matters are, of course, notoriously fallible.

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Action Theory and the Human Condition by Talcott Parsons


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