Academic societies, torture, and professional ethics

Most likely you know about the recent revelations about the role of the American Psychological Association (APA) in the torture / “enhanced interrogation” of the G.W. Bush administration. In case you’re in the dark, here are a few sources that have crossed my path:

The collusion of some of the APA’s leaders and members is appalling, but as a scholar who works in professional ethics, I am not only outraged, but also deeply saddened. The APA has a code of ethics and an Ethics Office, and yet this all happened. It’s discouraging.

No doubt there are lessons to learn from this, but I’m pretty sure that the obvious ones (don’t lie; don’t hide what you’re doing from your colleagues; disclose your financial conflicts of interest; don’t work with the military) aren’t very useful. We’ve learned all of those things over and over again.

I guess it provides a degree of job security.

Please: Tell me something encouraging.

Ken Pimple
July 15, 2015
12:52 pm EDT

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Ken Pimple

About Ken Pimple

I've been involved in the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics before its actual creation. I am coordinating the international conversation on the future of practical and professional ethics for APPE, and organizing five workshops that will be held at Indiana University in Bloomington in academic year 2014-15.

2 thoughts on “Academic societies, torture, and professional ethics

  1. Update, from the Chronicle of Higher Education:

    The American Psychological Association approved a resolution on Friday to bar its members from involvement in national-security interrogations, a move meant to resolve a longstanding controversy over the role of psychologists in the harsh questioning of terrorism suspects.

    I still find this quite painful. Surely there are ethical forms of interrogation. If there are not, who is going to develop more-or-less pain- and harm-free techniques if not psychologists? Cutting ties to the military takes away any voice the APA might have.
    It’s a terribly difficult problem.

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