Tuskegee Experiment: Experimenting with the Human Body

This is the cosmology in which we believe that God is a forgiving God. It is said that babies are gifts from God. A gift is defined as an endowment of quality or an attribute. As a baby grows from a child into an adult aren’t they still gifts? And do these gifts being that they are human beings have human rights? If those that do believe repent and ask for His forgiveness, He gives it, because God is a forgiving God. No matter whether we are incarcerated because we got caught committing a crime or out walking the street committing crimes as long as we have forgiveness in our hearts God will forgive us.

Harry Reasoner described this experiment as one that used human beings as laboratory animals. People are human being and human beings have human rights as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The rights covered in this document apply to all humans whether incarcerated or not. When in prison the only rights taken from us are those that allow us to do what we want when we want. This right is freedom. We don’t loose dignity and we don’t transform into animals. We are given a colored jumpsuit and an Illinois Department of Correction identification number. These are creatures created by God and He called them humans. These were people, someone’s father. These were people, someone’s son. These were people called human beings. Are these god given creatures’ human beings and if so do they have human rights?

Divine Command Ethics:
Divine command ethics doesn’t think in terms of right and wrong, it refers to things as “because God says”. So what would God say of the Tuskegee experiment? Would this experiment receive a passing grade according to any of the ethical aspects? Virtue ethics talks of wisdom, courage, and justice. Did these men show courage by sacrificing the lives of themselves and their loved ones? Was justice served by killing innocent black men because they had “bad blood” or “black blood” as it should be said? Did these men die as martyrs? Through out the experiment it was constantly stated how there were black doctors and nurses involved in this experiment and it wasn’t just the whites. Is that supposed to make it alright? Is it tried to be justified that these men died with honor because of that. No, it doesn’t matter, this was an immoral act committed by anyone involved with the procedures no matter what skin color they were. Divine command says that humans should act as moral agents because they have the capacity to make a choice. These humans acted as moral agents. They had the capacity to make a choice and they did however they were misled. They were lied to and betrayed causing them to make the wrong decision so where does the responsibility lie. According to divine command ethics the administrators were wrong. In Fortune we learned that the body is a gift from God. God would not intentionally harm the body because it is a gift that he has created and given, so yes these were god given creatures with human rights.

According to the theory of sophism, experiments that were done on prisoners would be acceptable since the sophists do not believe in any higher entity; basic human rights would not be taking into consideration. Sophists would agree with this process because there is a social hierarchy and the upper-class in this case (police officers, sergeants, and law makers are in control). This type of experiment would be acceptable because the lower class people do not have any say so in this environment. Sophists believe in creating their order and not following any religious guidelines. Sophists are free-spirited, free thinkers, and allow society to decide what is valuable in life. With the Tuskegee experiment a sophist can argue that the 399 African American men that the study was conducted on were not very valuable in life, therefore the men wouldn’t be a major loss to society. These men were poor, uneducated, and most importantly African American. The U. S. Public Health Service is responsible for conducting such a horrible experiment and convincing the “guinea pigs that they would be cured. With sophist thinking, anything can be made logical even killing innocent prisoners. Due to the fact that there is no order according to this theory and the moral good is written by the upper social class we can assume that no these men were not human beings with human rights. In this case it was the upper middle class that made the decision to experiment on these men.

Natural Law:
The Tuskegee experiments were not morally justifiable because the experiments were racists and violated the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable human rights of humanity. The fact that the experiment was conducted on 399 black men in the last stages of syphilis without knowledge the true nature of experiments. This is a clear violation of human rights and blatantly racist. The true nature of the experiment was kept from them. It violated their rights because they were not informed of the true meaning of test. They were manipulated into this experiment. In Article 5 of the universal declaration of human rights it states “no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Some sociological studies have proven that African Americans do not trust medical authorities because of the lasting insecurities created by these experiments. Yes these were human beings with human rights.

According to teleology all human beings act so as to achieve goals or ends, they are goal oriented. Administrators of the Tuskegee experiment acted as to achieve specific goals or ends. Their purpose was to find out how syphilis affected African Americans as opposed to whites. They lied and betrayed several black men in Macon County Alabama to establish their proper ends. In this case the ends do not justify the means allowing the agreement of the Tuskegee experiment. The administrators had certain goals in mind and that was their moral good. One could say according to teleology the support can go either way. Moral evil was committed because of the betrayal and the withholding of information from those who were used in this experiment. This could be seen as a selfish trait or act of disrespect deterring the administrators from their goal. Overall it could be said that teleology supports this experiment because the administrators acted to achieve their goals bringing about human end. Since their ultimate goal was achieved regardless of humanity no these human being did not have human rights.

From the Utilitarianism/Proportionalism point of view we conclude that the Tuskegee experiment was not a morally right act, because the human intention was corrupt from the start. The subjects themselves did not know that these experiments were being performed on them and produced affects on there body against their will. Also, if these experiments were done for a greater cause to save thousands of more lives the argument for this point of view would be stronger. The experiment is immoral because it exploited a group of people to satisfy a group of doctor’s curiosity. Primarily the experiment had no moral worth because the overall contribution of the experiment was determined by the outcome of it which was inhuman and morally bankrupt. The experiments had no benefits, instead of promoting happiness, the experiments maximized on pain and suffering. Evil was maximized because 28 of the men died of syphilis, 100 died of related complications, 40 of them infected their wives and 19 of them had children born with congenital syphilis. The experiment did not prove anything it just made more harm. Because we are speaking in terms of morality it would be safe to conclude morally human beings have human rights.

Mythical Poetical Thinking:
Mythical poetical thinking is where passions, and dreams interfere with the ability to logic and reason. It is safe to say that the U.S. Public Health Service officials created this theory about African Americans having “Bad blood” manipulating these innocent people into having studies conducted and creating more problems than it cured. Administrators decided to tell the men that they were being treated for “Bad Blood.” The “bad blood” was a reference to the prisoners being African American and the perception that it was an illness instead of an ethnicity. Many of the people suffered long term effects such as: “tumors, disease, paralysis, blindness, insanity, and death. Health officials deceived these individuals by having them think, that they would actually be cured. The United States government had no intentions of ever curing these individuals from the disease that they had afflicted upon African Americans for their own personal interests. This deceptive manipulation was just another racist tactic and certainly could be considered immoral.

Making an ethical decision we concluded that yes theses were human beings because according to divine command ethics the body is a gift from God. What body is a gift? The human body is the gift that he created and a gift should be cherished. Do these human beings have human rights, yes? Going along with the sophist and porportionalist moral wrong was bestowed upon these men therefore violating there human rights.