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Subject:
Medical Ethics-Assignment 1

 

  Stanley Milgram Experiment

At
Yale University, Stanley Milgram a psychologist carried out the most famous
study of obedience in psychology. The experiment was focused on the battle
between obedience to authority and personal ethics.  In 1963, Milgram wanted to know how far a
person would go to obey the instruction if it involved harming other person.
Milgram was interested to see how an individual could be unfair by committing
murders, for instance, the Germans in World War II. Milgram wanted to examine
what was the common reason for the murderer in the Nazi in World War II by
Germans, are they obedient to their superior. Milgram prepared an experiment at
Yale University giving an announcement that was printed in the newspaper
highlighting mostly the male member to take part in the study of learning with
selected participants

For
conducting the experiment it required participants who were 40 males aged
between 20 to 50 and their jobs ranged from unskilled to professionals. There
were two types of participants; one was called learner and the other was called
the teacher. But the participants (Teachers) were not alert that the learners
were one of Milgram’s colleagues who was pretending to be the real
participants. In the Yale Laboratory, there were two rooms used; one for the
learner and the other for the teacher and experimenter to manage with an
electric shock generator. In the other room, the learner would be strapped to a
chair with electrodes.When the learner makes a mistake, the teacher are told to
give electric shock on the learner by increasing the level of shock it could
also go to the lethal level. Sometimes on purpose, the learner gives wrong
answer to all the question they were asked by the teacher at that point the
teacher has to give them an electric shock for the wrong answers. When the
electric shock reaches to the high level, the teacher’s refuses to give shock
any further but the experimenter forces or give order to continue them

As
per Utilitarian, the experiment conducted my Milgram is a total violation of
ethics as many people kept continuing giving shocks even though they know they
are harming the learner just to obey the authority. According to Utilitarian
view, the people have no personal interest. In the experiment majority of the
people were following the instruction as given, they were even forced to shocks
up to lethal level. So this shows that they had no personal interest and they
are most likely to be obedience to authority. The experiment did not consider
the wellbeing of other personal interest, thus this experiment is against the
Utilitarian view. The ethicists who have agreed with Utilitarian said that the
experiment done my Milgram was wrong to run.

According
to Kantian view, our first duty is to fulfill the moral obligation. Hence as
per Kantian view, this experiment did not implicate any ethical issues. An
individual should not involve in harming others conscience or which is not
morally correct.  But Kantian says that
our duties should be at first, we should follow the orders of authority. The
candidate in the experiment simply fulfilling their duties even though they
knew they were harming others. At some point, the shock was at a lethal level.
But as per them, they are following what the authority asked them to do. The
moral obligation is to shock them when the answer is wrong. So this does not
bring up any ethical issues according to Kantian view.

In
my point of view, this experiment was unethical. The reason to this is because
we had to notice how the teachers would go against the social expectations. The
people who quits at 150 volts they disobeyed the experimenter and have shown
the real courage. That was the main emphasis of the experiment showing how many
people would go against this experiment when they are ordered to harm other
people. Over 50% of the participants in the experiment went all the way until
450 volts but the rest at some point have quit. This was an alternate outcome
that kept running against all expectation and shows the excellent hidden power
of social setting.

Another
reason to why this experiment was unethical is because Milgram began his
experiment without any ethical guidelines for the protection of the human.The
experimenter deceived the participants and made them believe that they were
harming the learner by giving them pain and put them on stress. Some teacher
even trusted that they have harmed or killed the learner causing a considerable
measure of stress. Milgram also lied about the experiment, informing that the
purpose of this experiment was to study about the effects of punishment on
learning; however, the real purpose of the experiment was to measure the
obedience of an individual. Even after the experiment was over the participants
were not informed what the purpose of the experiment was, opponents believed
that it was not enough because it did not stop the psychological damage that
has affected the participants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reference:

https://nature.berkeley.edu/ucce50/ag-labor/7article/article35.htm

Stanley Milgram: Was his experiment really unethical?

Book
Reference:

“Case
Studies In Biomedical Research Ethics” By Timothy F. Murphy

 

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