Philo 171
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 CRUZ Questions for the Third Exam

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Join date : 2008-11-25

PostSubject: CRUZ Questions for the Third Exam   Sun Mar 29, 2009 11:42 pm

1. Recall the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment. Assuming/given a conscientious understanding and application of the Utilitarian perspective, how will you resolve the question of whether the the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment is justified?

2. After careful considerations of the various ethical theories/views we discussed, what “personal moral system or code” can you come up with and which you can adopt? Be sure to talk about the values, precepts/ideas, and other elements that should comprise this “personal moral system or code”. Include your conception of freedom and accountability in this given moral system and your view of what it means to be a moral individual.
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Cruz James Leonard

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Join date : 2008-11-26

PostSubject: Final Exam   Mon Mar 30, 2009 9:39 pm

1. The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment from what I recall is the clinical study conducted by the US Public Health Service on some 300 illiterate African-Americans. The said experiment became a moral issue for the reasons that the subject patients were not given any information regarding their diagnosis thus, also meaning that these people did not give any form of consent to what was at hand. Another quite disturbing issue was that when the condition of the patients worsened due to the toxicity of the standard treatment being given by the US Public Health Service, they were not given proper medication though it was available.

Upon being asked to justify this case with respect to my understanding of the Utilitarian perspective I am obliged to defend the cause of the US Public Health Service. In the Utilitarian perspective, which is anchored on the Greatest Happiness Principle which states that “the greatest good for the greatest number of people” is the ultimate goal to be achieved, comes my first defense to the US Public Health Service. Syphilis being one of the more dangerous diseases during that period was incurable during that point in time. It being the task of health care and service providers to develop a cure for the diseases that come up, it was assigned to the US Public Health Service by default. They took as subjects for their experiment about 300 African Americans. As mentioned above, the subjects were not informed of their diagnosis and did not give any form of consent for what was about to be done to them. I believe that the authorities of the US Public Health Service did this to prevent the possibility of having most of their subjects backing out. Since this was an experiment the number of subjects was very critical since the results that were taken from them were to validate whether the study was successful of otherwise.
With regards to the issue of the subjects being not given medication despite its availability, I believe that they wished to further test the treatment that they issued to reinforce the results of the experiment.

With all this being said it seems to support the argument that the Utilitarian perspective is a swinish doctrine. However, with regards to J.S Mill’s concept of ‘Qualitative Hedonism’ and ‘Enlightened Utilitarian’ the argument could be countered. With Mill’s definition of qualitative hedonism as a higher form of pleasure and an enlightened utilitarian to be the one that seeks this kind of pleasure I can further my justification. Let us substitute the concept of the ‘higher form of pleasure’ with ‘the cure for Syphilis’ and the ‘enlightened utilitarian’ with the US Public Health service. This gives us the set-up that the US Public Health Service seeks the cure for Syphilis. Now, with this I have established that the actions done by the US Public Health Service are not swinish. To further support this fact we can view the African-American test subjects to be the ‘sacrifices’ which in Mill’s defense to utilitarianism is a factor considered to be beneficial in achieving greater good. So looking at it this way the acts done by the US Public Health Service are justified only with respect to Utilitarianism.

2. Having discussed quite a variety of ethical views, as a student of this course I am somewhat expected to support or pursue one of these views to be of my personal preference. For my personal preference I believe that I will pursue the view of existentialist ethicists. Without any kind of awareness to this view I claim to have been already employing it in my life with regards to my principles, beliefs and ideas that I have even before taking this course. Existentialist, ethics which is centered on the existence of humans, seems to be that liberating ideology which I find most acceptable.

The concepts introduced in this view include: Nietzche’s slave vs. master mentality; Descarte’s dualism and the indubitable; Sartre’s phenomenology; and the existentialist themes all reflect and are in agreement to what I believe is moral. These concepts as I have already mentioned are very much liberating. And also, it criticizes the abstract characteristics of the Modern ethical views which I really found to be hard to accept.

However, I am not an extremist existentialist. In reaction to Nietzche’s claims these are the following criticisms that I have: I do not perceive religion to be a ‘celebration of suffering’ on the contrary I am a believer of God; I do not agree to the concept of ‘denying the self’ since I do not view individuals to be naturally evil and brutish but rather perceive them to be rational. For Sartre and Descarte however, I find their views very acceptable. With the focus again on experience and existence, it gives me that assurance that these are not the exact opposites of the abstracts that the Modernists dealt with. It gives the idea of the acceptance of ‘human flaws’ and still be moral rather than just following a pre-set criteria on which you will be judged as moral or not. Another factor why I am for the existentialist view is that they believe that ‘existence precedes essence’. This gives the idea of freedom and of the ability for self-determination. We are not bound by both nature and nurture but rather by our own choices and the consequences that may arrive from them.

For me being moral is the ability to act in ways that promote the betterment of everybody even if one is no longer bound by consequence, nature and nurture, and the abstracts. Being moral is having the ability to act out of the choices that only you make and knowing by yourself that what you have done is what is right without any feeling of guilt but rather feelings of fulfillment.
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