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Morality of the Past: How Two Committees Judged Past Human Subject Experiments

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In 1996, President Clinton ordered the formation of the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments (ACHRE), which undertook to evaluate the morality of a myriad of secret and publicized radiation experiments ranging from 1944 to 1974. The goal of this

In 1996, President Clinton ordered the formation of the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments (ACHRE), which undertook to evaluate the morality of a myriad of secret and publicized radiation experiments ranging from 1944 to 1974. The goal of this thesis is to analyze the ways in which that committee formed moral evaluations and the extent to which its strategies related to a broader historical and philosophical discourse. Here I attempt to describe two specific techniques of simplification the committee deploys in order to make a retrospective moral analysis possible. Although the techniques comprise specific problems, frameworks, subjective perspectives, and conceptual links, their unifying principle is the field of choices the techniques produce. In the first technique I outline, I argue that by focusing on the problem of historical relativism, the committee gains a platform through which it would be granted flexibility in making a distinction between moral wrongdoing and blameworthiness. In the second technique of simplification I outline, I argue that the committee's incorporation of a principle to reduce uncertainty as an ethical aim allow it to establish new ways to reconcile scientific aims with moral responsibility. In addition to describing the structure of these techniques, I also demonstrate how they relate to the specific experiments the analysts aim to evaluate, using both the ACHRE experiments as well as the Nuremberg Trial experiments as my examples. My hope is not to show why a given committee made a particular moral evaluation, or to say whether a decision was right or wrong, but rather to illustrate how certain techniques open up a field of choices that allow moral analysts to form retrospective moral judgments.

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2015-05

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The Charismatic Leadership of Abimael Guzmán: The Influence of Charismatic Authority on Peru’s Shining Path

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The Shining Path, or Sendero Luminoso, is peculiar among Latin American revolutions for a multitude of reasons, ranging from the intensity of its violent tactics to the group’s muddled Maoist ideology. Analyses of the group tend to label it

Abstract

The Shining Path, or Sendero Luminoso, is peculiar among Latin American revolutions for a multitude of reasons, ranging from the intensity of its violent tactics to the group’s muddled Maoist ideology. Analyses of the group tend to label it a mystery or an enigma. The purpose of this thesis is to offer the charismatic nature of the authority wielded by Abimael Guzmán, the energetic leader of the group also known as Presidente Gonzalo, as an explanation for some of the Shining Path’s idiosyncrasies, particularly their relentlessly bloodthirsty rise and sharp decline. Although much of the previous literature on the Shining Path uses the word “charismatic” to describe Guzmán, very little work has analyzed the particular implications of the successful creation of a charismatic leader-follower dynamic as a key part of senderismo. Using the framework established by German sociologist Max Weber, this paper analyzes a number of major characteristics of charismatic leaders and applies them to Guzmán. Not only did he exhibit many of the typical features of a charismatic leader, but it may have been is successful development of this particular style of authority which led to both the bloodthirstiness of Sendero’s military arm and the group’s struggle to find an identity after Guzmán’s capture. The Shining Path followed the power arc expected of a charismatic leader-follower relationship, allowing Guzmán to exploit the peasant population to create chaos and fear in the Andes in his effort to bring about a “popular revolution.” The purpose of this paper is not to discredit other theories regarding Sendero, as it was largely a sui generis movement, but to argue several of its particular qualities can be attributed to the charismatic nature of Presidente Gonzalo’s authority.

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2013-05