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Abstract

Relatively subtle forms of exploitation of human subjects may arise from the inefficiency or incompetence of a researcher, from the existence of a power imbalance between principal and subject, or from the uneven distribution of research risks among various segments of the population. A powerful and knowledgeable person (or institution) may perpetrate the exploitation of an unempowered and ignorant individual even without intending to. There is an ethical burden on the former to protect the interests of the vulnerable. Excessive or insufficient compensation may be exploitative. However, genuine economic imperatives motivating needy volunteers have to be considered. These forms of exploitation should be appreciated in the context of social and cultural factors suggesting that the relationship between researcher and subject cannot properly be appraised as a contractual undertaking. While compliance with pertinent codes and regulations minimises the exploitative potential, they cannot be enforced in a way that does not recognise a society's peculiar characteristics. The experience with some Filipino cultural traits illustrates this point.