PHIL 274
Messing with People: The Ethics of Human Experimentation
Last Offered Spring 2017
Division II Writing Skills
This course is not offered in the current catalog

Class Details

The Tuskegee Syphilis Study and Stanley Milgram’s Obedience experiments are infamous. Yet, other lesser known experiments are equally important landmarks in research ethics, as well, such as the Willowbrook experiment, in which residents of a state home for mentally impaired children were intentionally infected with a virus that causes hepatitis, and the Kennedy-Krieger Lead Abatement study, which tested the efficacy of a new lead paint removal procedure by housing young children in partially decontaminated homes and testing those children for lead exposure. In this tutorial we’ll closely examine a series of contemporary and historical cases of human experimentation (roughly, one case per week) with an eye toward elucidating the moral norms that ought to govern human subjects research. A number of conceptual themes will emerge throughout the course of the term, including notions of exploitation and coercion, privacy and confidentiality, and the balance between public interests and individual rights. Specific issues will include the ethics of placebo research, deception in research, studies of illicit/illegal behavior, genetic research, experimentation with children, pregnant women and fetuses, and persons with diminished mental capacity, among other topics.
The Class: Format: tutorial; students will meet with the professor in pairs for approximately 75 minutes per week, writing and presenting 5- to 7-page essays, and commenting orally on their partners' essays in alternate weeks
Limit: 10
Expected: 10
Class#: 3956
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: evaluations will be based on written work, on biweekly papers, oral commentaries, and tutorial discussions
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: prospective Philosophy majors and students committed to taking the tutorial
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills

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