Excerpted from Informed Consent
Few principles are as often identified with bioethics as informed consent. In clinical practice, the doctrine of informed consent rose to dominance during the course of the 20th century. It replaced a medical ethos founded on trust in physicians' decisions—often on the assumption that “doctor knows best”—with an ethos that sought to put patients in charge of their own care.
In medical research on human subjects, informed consent requirements gained prominence in reaction to abuses. One influential response to the cruelty of Nazi experiments was the Nuremberg Code of research ethics, which stipulated, “The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential” (Faden and Beauchamp 1986, 156).