PHIL 274
Messing with People: The Ethics of Human Experimentation Fall 2024
Division II Writing Skills

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 that continue to shape the design, conduct, and regulation of research involving human participants. 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 such 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. The cases will be drawn from different domains of research, including clinical medicine, public health, social and behavioral sciences, and education. Specific issues are likely to include the ethics of placebo research; deception in research; studies of illicit/illegal behavior; genetic research; research involving social media; experimentation with children, pregnant people and fetuses; research involving persons with mental illness, justice and research with marginalized populations, among other topics.
The Class: Format: tutorial
Limit: 10
Expected: 10
Class#: 1593
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: Philosophy majors (declared and prospective); Public Health concentrators (declared and prospective)
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills
WS Notes: Students will write six tutorial papers of 5-7 pages in length, one of which they will revise and resubmit. In each of the tutorial papers students will describe and evaluate arguments that appear in the assigned readings, and will develop arguments in support of their own ethical positions. Students will receive written and oral feedback, concentrated particularly in the first half of the semester, to improve their ability to present clear and effective written arguments.
Attributes: PHIL Contemporary Value Theory Courses
PHLH Bioethics + Interpretations of Health

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