Extreme Measures

Throughout history humanity has questioned what really is ethical in a society. From the scientific experiments down to the cruel hearted treatment of slaves. This question has surfaced countless times and yet all the answers remain to be different. I feel that this is really dependent on who we are as people and the many experiences life has brought us through, thus different opinions and explanations are created.

Stanley Milgram takes his place down in history for one of the most known social science studies. He created the experiment “Obedience to Authority”, and has brought about many controversial opinions from this matter. The study is designed to put a volunteer in a place where he has authority over another volunteer who is playing the role of a student as the other volunteer plays the role of the teacher. We see just how far the teacher will take the role of authority and hold that authority even if extreme costs are at measure. In this case administered shocks were brought to the extreme measure. After watching the forty five minute clip from this experiment, I came to realize a couple of different things. The second volunteer who played the student was actually an acquaintance to the scientists conducting the experiments. The volunteer who played as the teacher was led to believe that he would conduct these shocks to the student if an incorrect answer was presented by the student when in reality there were no real shocks administered. I thought that was a very clever approach to this experiment. It made me feel better knowing that no one was in any real harm because of this experiment, I think because the teacher was led to believe this was a real life scenario the results demonstrated how different people react to obedience and how far they will take those measures. I feel because of the clever approach that was taken in this study, that it was an ethical approach to obtaining scientific knowledge.

If I were to ask you What does the word ethical mean to you how would you respond? Ethical to me simply means that there is an invisible line in society and everything we do can cross this imaginative line, now whether its right or wrong is where the true question stands. When that line is crossed and peoples well beings are put at risk, that to me is not ethical. When experiments extend past the point of simple observations and questions and put people in harms way is when that under no circumstance is right. An example of this would be the Zimbardo experiment. Eager college male students volunteered for the opportunity to participate in this study, little did they know the long lasting effects of just a few days would soon bring. The roles that were assigned were prisoners and guards. The effects of relationships and power took its toll fast on innocent young men who were chosen to be prisoners. Although the circumstances surrounding this experiment were for research, the guards took matters in their own hands to ensure full control over the prisoners . The effects of this were just devastating to watch, the cruel treatment and the inappropriate foul play that they were subjected to was a complete abuse of power. In no way was this experimental ethical in my eyes, there are other ways to obtain information for research without destroying the mental and physical health of others.

The findings of the Zimbardo and the Milgram studies were not worth the risk to me, there are other ways to obtain scientific information. The Milgram study left no physical harm to any of the volunteers, I think it was more of an eye opener to the volunteer who played the teacher, just how willing they were to hold that authority while also taking the orders of the scientists. Who obtained and maintained the authority was interesting to see how they reacted when they found out the truth. The Zimbardo study on the other hand was no where similar to the Miligram study and put people at risk, that to me, is not worth any risk, there are other ways to find out that information without hurting anyone.

If I were a professional Sociologist I would like to conduct a study that would have some sort of beneficial effect in society. A big issue for me personally is today's time is woman's safety. This goes for every woman of every color,shape,size, and age. I along with many others would like woman to feel safe walking down the street even if it is at eleven o clock at night. Women should not have to worry about a guy cat calling her or have to fear for her life just on the walk home from work. I would purpose a study that would look at the statistics and see, if we can provide self defense classes for woman in various locations what would be the outcome of that? Would there be less fear? If a woman is trained professionally to defend herself would that reduce the level of crime or assault in that designated area? I think this would be a very beneficial study, and now one thing these volunteers would gain is how to defend themselves in ways they didn't know before in hopes to ensure nothing but safety.