Ethics Reflective Essay


Utilitarians believe in the maximum utility of things and opportunities. The utilitarian theory hence focuses on the use of the couples as a source of study for research in Cornell. The utility in this case would be the couples who have one partner infected with H.I.V and the other leading a free life from the disease. In this regard, the maximum use of the couples involves not letting them know the entire truth behind the research and failing to grant them proper counseling on the effects of H.I.V. (Singer 21). Ideally, this maximizes their importance in the search of a vaccine for H.I.V.

The strength behind the utilitarian argument is that, by failing to inform the couples in Haiti of the true nature of the research, the health practitioners have a better chance at observing the trends. This gives the researchers the opportunity to take note on the behavior of the H.I.V virus and how couples where one partner is not infected survive. Therefore, the possibility of getting more concrete results for a vaccine is heightened. 

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The weakness of the argument is that, the H.I.V research conducted at the Cornell H.I.V clinic deprives the people the chance to quality health care services as well as their right to information. As such, this form of research objectifies the use of human beings for scientific purposes. In this regard, it violates the inherent right of being a human. Therefore, in arguing that not disclosing all due information to the couple patients is for the benefit of the entire world would serve as a vile excuse to the existence of humankind. The research hence is not ethical from a utilitarian point of view (Baron 15).

Kantian theory states that the only intrinsically good thing is good will. This means that, an action can only be perceived to be a good action in the event that, its duty is to the moral good. Therefore, according to the Kantian theory, for something to be good, it must be applicable to all people without causing any form of contradiction whatsoever. Based on this understanding, a Kantian would consider the research by Cornell to be morally wrong on several levels. The research would be deemed unethical as it cannot be applied to all people without causing contradiction (Baron 15). The same research procedures cannot be applied to the Americans as it would raise ethical conflict. The conflict would be based on the fact that, the research does not provide due counseling nor does it offer those infected with H.I.V with the anti-retro viral drugs as should be the case.

The strength of the Kantian argument is based on the facts of the research. The same procedures conducted elsewhere are sufficient to have the research closed. Furthermore, the doctors bluntly admitted that they are conducting research which would in any other country be stopped immediately due to its discriminative nature. These are some of the reasons that Kantian theorists would deem the research to be of unethical standing.

The only possible weakness to the Kantian theory is that it does not provide an alternative that may be used. While it condemns the nature of the research, it does not offer any recommendations as to how best the research should have been conducted. An option would suffice to help resolve the problem and therefore alleviate the Haitians from the uncouth practice of the doctors conducting the research. Based on personal code of ethics, the research by Cornell clinic in Haiti is rather discriminative in nature. The doctors are taking advantage of the poor and their inaccessibility to knowledge. In this manner, the people are being subjected to untold misery that modern medicine has made possible to alleviate their pain. Instead of counseling the people accordingly, the research team uses a mode of bribery to get the patients to take part in the research. Essentially, the doctors are aware of their fault thus the research in its entirety is not ethical. The people of Haiti should be informed of the reasons why the clinic was set up. They should be given chance to voluntarily choose to participate in the research (Baron 15).

My personal code of ethics has not been challenged as much. On the contrary, the research study in Haiti has only assured me that my stand in ethics is right and assured. Human life is sacred and it should not be toyed with on the argument that it would benefit the entire world. The people in Haiti are as human as any other people. If the same research study cannot be performed elsewhere then it should not be performed at all. The doctors should seek other alternatives. These are the lessons I have learned from the Kantian ethics. Utilitarian ethics do not consider the value of life as they are more focused on the outcome In this directive, it is the lessons from Kantian ethics that I would add onto my personal code of ethics. This is because they are more aligned with the sacred nature of human life.

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  1. Baron, Marcia. Kantian Ethics Almost without Apology. Cornell University Press. 1999.
  2. Singer, Peter. Writings on an Ethical Life. Harper Collins. 2000.
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