Respect for persons incorporates at least two basic ethical tenets:

  • Individuals should be treated as autonomous agents and
  • Persons with diminished autonomy are entitled to protection

The principle of respect for persons thus divides into two separate moral requirements:

  • To acknowledge autonomy and
  • To protect those with diminished autonomy

To respect autonomy is to give weight to autonomous persons' considered opinions and choices while refraining from obstructing their actions unless they are clearly detrimental to others. Respect for the immature and the incapacitated may require protecting them as they mature or while they are incapacitated. Except in rare cases, respect for persons demands that subjects enter the research voluntarily and on the basis of adequate information about the research situation and possible consequences.