Pain, Pleasure, and the Greater Good: From the Panopticon to the Skinner Box and Beyond
How should we weigh the costs and benefits of scientific research on humans? Is it right that a small group of people should suffer in order that a larger number can live better, healthier lives? Or is an individual truly sovereign, unable to be plotted as part of such a calculation?
These are questions that have bedeviled scientists, doctors, and ethicists for decades, and in Pain, Pleasure, and the Greater Good, Cathy Gere presents the gripping story of how we have addressed them over time. Today, we are horrified at the idea that a medical experiment could be performed on someone without consent. But, as Gere shows, that represents a relatively recent shift: for more than two centuries, from the birth of utilitarianism in the eighteenth century, the doctrine of the greater good held sway. If a researcher believed his work would benefit humanity, then inflicting pain, or even death, on unwitting or captive subjects was considered ethically acceptable. It was only in the wake of World War II, and the revelations of Nazi medical atrocities, that public and medical opinion began to change, culminating in the National Research Act of 1974, which mandated informed consent. Showing that utilitarianism is based in the idea that humans are motivated only by pain and pleasure, Gere cautions that that greater good thinking is on the upswing again today and that the lesson of history is in imminent danger of being lost.
Rooted in the experiences of real people, and with major consequences for how we think about ourselves and our rights, Pain, Pleasure, and the Greater Good is a dazzling, ambitious history.
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Pain, Pleasure, and the Greater Good: From the Panopticon to the Skinner Box and BeyondUser Review - Book Verdict
Gere (history, Univ. of California, San Diego; Knossos and the Prophets of Modernism) posits that utilitarian reasoning prompted physicians to commit medical atrocities. Currently, physicians require ... Read full review
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action activists Alexander Bain American Anatomy Act animal archangel argued autonomy B. F. Skinner Bain Bain’s became began behavior behaviorist Belmont Report Benthamite brain British Cambridge Charles civil Conwy Lloyd Morgan Darwin David Ferrier disease doctors drug economic emotional experiments Ferrier freedom happiness Heath Hobbes Hobbes’s hospital human experimentation human subjects Ibid informed consent Jeremy Bentham John Stuart John Stuart Mill Journal Kennedy living London Lunatic Asylum Malthus Malthus’s Malthusian medical ethics medical research medical utilitarianism medicine Mill Mill’s monkeys moral National nature Nazi Nuremberg Code organization Oxford pain and pleasure Panopticon patients pauper person philosophy pleasure-pain psychology political Priestley Priestley’s principle prisoners published reform Report research subjects Review reward Robert Galbraith Heath scientific scientists seemed sexual social Spencer stimulation syphilis theory Thomas Thorndike tion treatment trial Tulane turned Tuskegee University Press utilitarian psychology utility West Riding workhouse York