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Was the Stanley Milgram Experiment Ethical? an Approach Through Descartes - Four Rule

Autor:   •  September 15, 2018  •  1,116 Words (5 Pages)  •  173 Views

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the ethics: psychological damage on the participants. Milgram did a follow-up study after the experiment and observed that the results did not adversely affect the participants. However, no one could know how the experiment would end before the experiment. It might be ended as Stanford experiment which causes physical and psychological damage on the people. In my opinion, any knowledge is not more important than psychological and physical health of individuals. Such a damage even if it is a possibility, is a reason enough to be unethical.

Deceiving the participants is another issue on the ethics of the experiment. Milgram’s main purpose on the experiment is to measure obedience, but participants were told that he was studying the effects of punishment on learning and memorizing. To me, Milgram’s aim was to create a cover story for the experiment so that people were not affected by the true reason of the experiment. In my ethics definition, I described that being ethical is related to do good things for humanity and the nature. Milgram’s lie can be thought wrong but the main purpose of the lie is to have a better and realistic experiment results. The simplest thing I can know here is the results of the experiment provides a good source of data about the obedience to authorities. Milgram used the data provided by the experiment to teach the subject of human nature in his further research and lectures. Therefore, deception of the participants was not a lie such that can be used for the evil of the people, but rather a development that will advance science for humanity. So, I think it was ethical to cover the real purpose of the experiment in order to have better and unbiased results from the participants.

The last and the most complicated part of the problem is that causing people to empathize in accordance with the result of the experiment and to consider themselves in the same position as the Nazi soldiers and make them to feel guilty on the Holocaust. To give an example; if a participant felt such guilt, this sense of guilt would be his/her lifelong punishment for something s/he has not done in his life. Milgram was not the person who can judge this person and give the penalty because of his/her reaction to experiment. On the other hand, if some people encountered such a situation after the experiment, they would not obey without question because they have already experienced it, and perhaps they would be saved from further crimes. Therefore, this part is more complicated than others. Nevertheless, according to my ethical understanding, it makes the experiment unethical


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