Was Milgram Ethical in his Obedience Studies?
When trying to determine weather or not Stanley Milgram’s experiment on obedience vs. destructive obedience is ethical you need to know two things: One, determine a set of ethical means that Milgram must follow, in this case they were already laid out. Two: Determine if Milgram stepped out of the ethical rules that he had agreed to follow.
The code of ethics that were placed on this experiment are the same set of codes that are placed on every experiment it includes: Respect for peoples rights, and dignity, concern for others welfare, social responsibility, among others. These codes of Ethics come from the DSMIV, in “Ethical Standards” paragraph one, the General Standards states that all professional and scientific activities of psychologists must follow these guidelines. Some aspects included in the fore-mentioned codes include: “Psychologists weigh the welfare and rights of their patients, and clients.” “(psychologists) perform in a responsible fashion, that avoids or minimizes harm.” “Psychologists are concerned about and work to mitigate the causes of human suffering.” “Psychologists try to avoid misuse of their work.,” and most importantly, “Psychologists are sensitive to real and ascribed differences in power between themselves and others, and the do not exploit or mislead other people during or after professional relationships.” This code of ethics was laid upon Stanley Milgram, weather or not he followed them is another story.
Diane Baumrind, a celebrated psychologist, believes that Milgram was extremely unethical during his obedience study. Baumrind states that Milgram was doing the study to further his career, while Milgram states that it was a valid and ethical experiment. Baumrind also says that the experimenter is indebted to the patients, and that the experiment should not cause pain or indignity. She also believes that the experimenter should do all he/she can to reward the patient with what they did the experiment for (weather it be, money, support, scientific advancement). Baumrind believes that when a patient comes to a doctor that there is some sort of trust involved, trust that Baumrind believes that Milgram broke. Milgram responds in a manner that suggests that he was unethical during these experiments. He realizes that he is in a position of power and he uses this to manipulate his patients. Milgram does conclude with helpful results, but he received them using unethical means.