Read Aaron Ridley’s article “Ill-Gotten Gains: On the Use of Results from Unethical Experiments in Medicine” (Public Affairs Quarterly 9, no. 3 [July 1995]). Ridley examines the question of whether to make use of beneficial results that were obtained unethically from medical experiments performed on human beings. While many would probably say that such benefits should not be withheld, Ridley suggests it would be inappropriate to make use of such results. Given his article, address the following questions:
- In your own words, explain Ridley’s argument based on utilitarianism and the Ideal Experimenter. According to Ridley, how might the Ideal Experimenter effectively be persuaded to conform to non-utilitarian standards of experimental practices?
- In the end, do you think Ridley’s argument succeeds? Suppose some researchers performed experiments on children in which many of them suffered and died, but in the process, the researchers obtained information that could wipe out cancer. Should they use that information?
- Ridley presents two reasons for not using the results of unethical experiments that he believes are not effective: respect and condoning. Why does he think these fail? Do you agree with him? If not, give an example in which you think an appeal to respect or condoning would be successful in arguing against the use of such results.