We consider this
experiment as highly unethical today, but it was not the case when it was
created. In the 60s, this was perceived as unethical but not unreasonable since
it was for the purpose of a study. According to the modern ethical standard,
the participants of an experiment must not be deceived. They must be informed
about any consequences if any and full disclosure must be given. Milgram’s
experiment was however based on deception where the participants thought that
they were actually shocking the ‘learners’. Another ethical issue raised was
the participants rights to withdraw from the experiment. The participants were
discouraged to withdraw by the experimenter by giving four verbal prods.
The Milgram experiment in unethical according to both Kantian and Utilitarian
views of ethics.
Immanuel Kant was of the strong belief the lying is always wrong even if it’s
for a good cause. Based on this view, Milgram’s experiment is a violation to
this because the method of conducting the research was based on deception. He
lied to the participants and created an illusion. According to the utilitarian
view, good consequences equals good actions. The best action is the one that
brings the greater good for a greater number of people. Based on this, the
Milgram experiment is not justifiable since it caused emotional distress and
anxiety among the participants. Any experiment that is conducted under
deception is against utilitarianism.
According to me, the
Milgram experiment is unethical since the method of conducting the experiment
was based on deception. The fact that the participants were lied to are against
my ethical view point. Volunteers for an experiment has every right to know the
complete details about it and any consequences or side effects if any.
Although, the experiment had good intentions, it clearly caused distress,
uneasiness and anxiety among the subjects. They were also discouraged to
withdraw from the experiment which is again wrong. It was reported that three
participants underwent full blown seizures and many pleaded to stop the
experiment. Even though these effects were short term, it does not make it
ethical according to the modern ethical standards.