Ethical judgments limit the methods available in the production of knowledge in both the arts and the natural sciences. Discuss.

IBDP 2014 ToK Question

The production of knowledge is a device every individual possesses. It is an essential tool to comprehend the intake of information that is accessible to us more and more each day. However, this tool can be limited by multiple factors, defined as ethical judgements. These include personal beliefs, religions, motives and the morals that are different throughout cultures. There are various methods, which result in a gain of knowledge. Such as, the organization of information that results from an application of your own personal logic, or the process of analysing emotions, and acting based on a clear line of reasoning. This topic has one main assumption. It is assumed that knowledge within the natural sciences and art are limited by ethical judgements.  

By examining this statement, I have extracted a knowledge issue; do ethical impositions limit your access to knowledge? Looking at the natural sciences, I believe how one makes decisions and what they do or don’t do with that knowledge carries a larger ethical responsibility than just the possession of knowledge.  This generation is currently going through a thriving excess of technology and scientific possibilities that can affect the human race in positive ways, yet these have created controversies, questioned by ethical considerations. In the arts, ethics are a very evident and reoccurring topic of discussion. Art is a very intellectual way of expressing knowledge, but is left to interpretation of the viewer. Art is about discussing and questioning the desired topic. Hence, there are several implications related to this Area of knowledge. Although it may be controversial, isn’t that the message or point, to make people think through different perspectives? Although with that, where does one draw the line? When do the actions of portraying knowledge become unethical? I will be exploring the ethical frameworks present in the pursuit of knowledge in the natural sciences and art. Finally, reason and emotion will be the ways of knowing that I will use to develop claims and counter claims to evaluate my knowledge issue. 

Ethics are a challenging area of knowledge as morals differ across cultures. The topic of communal ethics could potentially eliminate some controversies. What is acceptable in one culture may not be believed in another. I will also explore this topic, through different ethical frameworks such as utilitarianism, Kantian ethics with examples of the consequentialist and deontologist perspectives. Utilitarianism is an ethical framework that is a philosophy in which the happiness of the greatest number of people in the society is considered the greatest good. This can be looked at from two different angles. Whether it is based on emotion or as a counter claim, whether is based on reason. As an example, the consequentialist perspective considers the consequences first before justifying whether a decision is ethically correct or incorrect. A consequentialist would use ones emotion to justify the end result. On the other hand, the deontologist perspective says to take emotion out of the equation and as a counter claim; they use a line of reasoning and ask whether this action is morally correct or incorrect. Deontologists believe that this ethical contemplation should be based on higher standards that should be set in place. Similarly, the Kantians would argue that utilitarian’s are incorrect for governing their reason upon maximizing pleasure. Kant would argue that the utilitarian’s are heteronomous because they act on desires and are not validated by reason, but purely by emotions. On the other hand, Kantians are considered autonomous which is the power to act on universally valid rules or standards of conduct that are justified by reason alone.  

 In the natural sciences, they constantly are reminded and forced to limit their production of knowledge due to ethical responsibilities. For example, in vitro fertilization is a very present controversy and there are many stances that people have taken. IVF is a treatment for families that are infertile and allows them to have children by embryonic cell removal and reinsertion. Many argue that this is unethical because it is not the natural process, and embryonic life is often loss. Another outcome that people aren’t in favor of is the slippery slope that IVF could cause allowing potential ‘designer babies’. Utilitarian approach based on emotion argues that every couple (greatest number of people) should have the right have their own child (greatest good). Utilitarian approach based on reason argues that due to the risk of loosing embryonic life, IVF should be banned, as the greatest good for the greatest amount of people would be for no one to be killed or harmed. The utilitarian approach through both ways of knowing, emotion and reason, has an outcome of the greatest good for the greatest amount of people. In contrast, the Kantian’s would not want to use the body for pleasure and to fulfill ones desires, as this would not be considered ‘dutiful’. Therefore although this family has no other way to conceive a child, they should not act on their emotion and desires and not carry out the procedure. Considering the progression of science is what allows procedures such as IVF to happen, there must have been a set of rules and standards. Looking at only Natural Science as an area of knowledge when exploring my central knowledge issue, I am making a counter-claim that emotion should not play a role in making ethical decisions at all as it would influence the results and therefore make the decision unreliable and bias. Relating this to our real life situation, emotion must not play any role as this overshadows the scientific reasoning that the process of IVF could lead a potential loss of life. Looking at this at a different perspective, using the reasoning that allowed and created the ability for couples to do the IVF procedure suggest that it would be ethical to carry out the procedure. Although during scientific procedures where emotion is present, it is the influence of the scientist person limitations and bias.

 “No artist has ethical sympathies. An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style.” (Oscar Wilde) Art can be a discussion or it can merely be questioning our world today, but when does this quest for knowledge become immoral? When does the artist have an ethical responsibility to limit their production of knowledge? Art may seem purely for visual entertainment. When in reality, it is a very intellectual and precise tool. Artists use reason to portray their message or question, but the viewer uses emotion as a tool for interpretation. When the creator of said piece has acted unethical, does the presenter have an ethical responsibility to not share the artists’ production of knowledge? Recently in London, the artist Graham Ovenden had portrayed his work in the Tate Modern. He was then convicted of child sexual offences; Tate Modern removed all of his work from their galleries due to the immoral actions of the artist. As a counter claim, when do ethics play too great of a role in the production of knowledge? In this case, the artists’ actions should not limit the portraying of his creations. In contrast, what if the subject of the creation could be considered unethical? Myra by Marcus Harvey was a painting of the known child murder Myra Hindley and was made by the use of children’s handprints. Protesters egged it on the opening day. This painting created a huge controversy and discussion, but isn’t that the point? I believe Marcus Harvey’s intention was to raise awareness and to aid us in not forgetting the bad in this world. With that, I recognize my personal limitations as I used my own reason and emotion to interpret this painting. Art as an area of knowledge that plays the public and can be rich in meaning but the artist throws that meaning and knowledge up in the air allowing the viewer to use their own method in the pursuit of knowledge.

In conclusion, the actions taken in the production of knowledge does carry ethical responsibility. Although depending on the circumstances, the ethical responsibility can be larger or smaller. In the natural sciences, the possession of knowledge is expected as our technological and scientific possibilities are increasing, but the actions taken carry a much larger ethical responsibility. In the arts, the artist has a larger playing field when it comes to ethics as the purpose of art is question and to create discussion on current issues, ideas, etc.

 ToK Assignment: Should we use the data from Nazi Experiments?

INSTRUCTIONS: To get 9–10 I need to see a sustained focus on knowledge questions connected to the prescribed title and are well chosen—developed with investigation of different perspectives and linked effectively to areas of knowledge and/or ways of knowing.
Arguments must be clear, supported by real-life examples and are effectively evaluated; counterclaims are extensively explored; implications are drawn.

All the information you need can be found at : http://www.jlaw.com/Articles/NaziMedEx.html
I want to see you use the material when relating the knowledge question to TWO WoK and TWO AoKs.

Here's a possible knowledge question: What Role Do Ethics Play in Medical Experiments?
REAL LIFE SITUATION: Dachau Medical Experiments

ETHICS: The medical experiments go against Utilitarianism's one supreme moral principal-- that we should seek greatest happiness of the greatest numbers.
The experiments performed did not increase happiness at all and maximized feelings of pain, which according to the theory, does not justify these actions.
Actions are right in so far as they tend to increase happiness and wrong in so far as they tend to decrease it.
Utilitarianism should maximize one's feelings of pleasure and minimize feelings of pains.

COUNTERARGUMENT: The objection to Utilitarianism is a counter argument in itself.
There are such things called malicious pleasures that are derived from the suffering of other people.
Dr. Mengele took pleasure in performing his experiments, therefore this maximized his happiness.
They can also be justified by moral relativism because the values and morals of the people performing these experiments were determined by the society during the Nazi regime.

HOW IT RELATES TO ETHICS: How it goes against the Kantian theory
Dual Concept of Ourselves: not only me but one among others.
It does not correlate with the golden rule, "Do as you would be done by".
Kant uses the dual concept of the self to argue that no individual should be discriminated against.
He claimed that it is never right to sacrifice one individual's life for the greater good.

COUNTERARGUMENT: It can also be used as a counter argument because another key aspect of Kant's ethics is that moral value of an action is determined by motive.
The motive behind these experiments was to help out Nazi soldiers therefore the action can be justified.
Also, Truly moral actions should be motivated by reason rather than feelings.
Although, moral coldness is a criticism of the last aspect due to Kant's total exclusion of feelings from morals. Conclusion In conclusion, ethics plays a large role in medical experiments because it provides a guideline that people must follow in order to stray away from the inhumane side of testing.

REAL LIFE SITUATION: Sulfonamide Treatment:
Wounds inflicted on the subjects were infected with bacteria that was the causative agent in tetanus.
Circulation of blood was interrupted by tying off blood vessels at both ends of the wound to create a condition similar to that of a battlefield wound. Infection was aggravated by forcing wood shavings and ground glass into the wounds. The infection was treated with sulfonamide and other drugs to determine their effectiveness.

WoK and AoK: Ethics in Human Sciences
The experiments performed also violate the experimental side of human sciences which state;
There are ethical reasons for not conducting experiments that have a negative effect on the people who participate in them.
The doctors who performed any of the experiments in WWII did not follow this rule at all and therefore furthered the unethical nature of what they were doing.

COUNTERARGUMENT
It can support the Versehen position for understanding.
The main aim of the human sciences is to understand the meaning of various practices from the inside and to gain full knowledge.

REAL LIFE EXAMPLE: Nazi doctors wanted to see if some people had a natural immunity to tuberculosis in order to develop a vaccine. Dr. Kurt Heissmeyer injected the tuberculosis bacteria directly into the lungs of his victims at the Neungamme concentration camp. He was responsible for the deaths of at least 200 people.
CONCLUSION: In conclusion, ethics plays a large role in medical experiments because it provides a guideline that people must follow in order to stray away from the inhumane side of testing.
Certain ethics should be universally followed in order to prevent unjust treatment of human life.
Should we even use this data due to its unethical nature?
Is harming others justified by the data gained?
Even though this data has contributed to some cures it was still unethical to use in the first place due to how the data was gathered. 


 EXAMPLE I


The Nazis used people captured in concentration camps to conduct human experimentation, which would not have been allowed in other contexts. After the Germans lost World War II, the “experiments” were classified as war crimes and crimes against humanity and the more involved scientists put on trial. A possible knowledge question that comes up from this situation is this: “Does the marginal scientific benefit of using data from Nazi Experiments outweigh the moral implications of these experiments?”


First it is important to evaluate the actual scientific worth and accuracy of the Nazi data. A Knowledge Question based on this could be: “Does the data from Nazi Experiments have any relevance to the problems being faced today in the medical and general scientific community?” The argument for using the Nazi data in relation to Human Sciences is that the experiments would not be done today. While the experiments could still be attempted on animals this would arguably not be as accurate as the attempts on humans. Many of the experiments were specifically performed to help in the medical field, albeit in a military context. These factors mean that the data from many of these Nazi experiments can still be the most relevant of its kind to modern science and that we should not discard the information entirely. This is shown in problems both Doctor John Hayward and Doctor Robert Pozos have in recreating an experiment involving “rewarming frozen victims of cold,” however both scientists experience problems with cooling the participants to incredibly low temperatures and so can only experiment with animals, which will produce very different results to experiments on humans.

The counter argument to this is that even though the experiments could produce more accurate results than they could with animals, the experiments are anything but scientific. The most blaring point is the incomparable situations between the victims of the Nazi Experiments and the real life counterparts. Nearly all of the people in concentration camps were malnourished as well as psychologically traumatized by their time in the camps. Furthermore many doctors knew little about the topics they were researching, such as Dr. Heissmeyer who despite knowing little about immunology and microscopic bacteria still conducted experiments on the spread of TB. As well as this the scientists did not accurately record their experiments. Many of their experiments were even completely unscientific and based on Nazi ideology rather than correct scientific findings, most importantly the theory of the Aryan race, which led the doctors to do experiments such as sterilization experiments, which were only held to stop the “non-Aryans” from reproducing. So even though the experiments can lead to more accurate data than experiments on animals or less extremely on humans, their findings are more akin to pseudoscience than properly documented human science.

Secondly the questions can be asked: “Is it ethical to use data from unethical sources” as well as “Is it responsible not to use potentially-lifesaving information.” The first question can be answered from to main viewpoints: Firstly the point of view of many Jews and other groups of victims in this situation is a clear no, because they believe that finding good points in the work of the Nazis may lead to apologizing other acts committed by the Nazis, which is morally unacceptable. The other side of the argument attempts to ignore the Nazi input on the data, while still commemorating the victims of the Holocaust.
The second question has to be approached differently. Here the assumption in the question is that the data is accurate enough to be actually life saving, but due to the scientific inaccuracies in the data it is possible that the data would not help at all, but this is undiscoverable without investigating the data. Without investigating the data we do know however that much of the data gathered is completely irrelevant.

EXAMPLE II




·      Knowledge Question:  To what extent can be hurting others be justified with immorally obtained data and full new understanding?

·      Areas of knowledge: History and Biology

·      Ways of knowing: reason, emotion and memory



 During the Holocaust in World War II, many Jews prisoners in concentrations camps like Dachau and Auschwitz, were used in medical experiments in order to obtain data in the name of ‘ research’. When investigating for my essay, I had a mixture of emotions. It was not only disturbing for me to realize how atrocious this acts had been but also very hard to remain objective regarding this issue after having had a closer look at how this data was collected. However, the results of such studies have been available to students since the data was discovered and it is time to discuss whether this data is ethically right or wrong. When looking at, in this case, inhuman experiments for medical purposes, we should not forget about our moral judgement towards the Nazis history and the Jews victims as many of these experiment’s purposes were only to protect the German army under various conditions or spreading a ‘ superior race’ which according to them (Nazi doctors) were the Germans.

 Freezing experiments such as the ones created by Doctor Sigmund Rasher[1] to establish the rate of cooling in humans in 1942 ,consisted on prisoners forced to immerse into tanks of ice water to test how long could German pilots survive under waters of the north sea. In this experiment, 90 people died. Others like the high altitude experiments involved prisoners under low atmospheric pressures most of the times without oxygen to simulate the conditions at which German pilots should be rescued from high altitudes. Prisoners suffered form air bubbles in their blood vessels of their brain that caused the death of 80 people. Moreover, Doctor Hans Eppinger[2] also took part in these experiments by forcing 90 Gypsy prisoners to try some liquids in order to test how toxic they were and what physical implications they could cause. As a result, they all died from dehydration. But Nazi experiments were far beyond this, Doctor Carl Clauberg [3] was responsible for forcing 300 women to undergo sexual intercourse with male prisoners in order to test artificial insemination for German generals that couldn’t have children. Women were not only treated as prostitutes against their will but also many of them had to have their fallopian tubes blocked, or even had to experience injections in their ovaries in order for Nazi doctors to investigate sterilization. 

However, such data has not been erased and in fact, it is nowadays ‘needed’ to investigate hypothermia in humans.  As a matter of fact, Doctor John Hayward[4] justifies such experiments by saying "I don't want to have to use the Nazi data, but there is no other and will be no other in an ethical world. I've rationalized it a bit. But not to use it would be equally bad. I'm trying to make something constructive out of it. I use it with my guard up, but it's useful."-   This is why I think that utilitarian responses should be considered when evaluating this issue. Doctor John believes such data is not only good for us but for the people in the future, that the harm is already done and that by using the data the death of those people isn’t going to change and therefore it is surely justified. Moreover, Robert Pozos who is a professor of Biology at San Diego university, claims that the observations that the Nazis recorded such as heart rate, mucus and urine response after the hypothermia experiments, have been crucial for improving methods of reviving people from freezing water after for example accidents in the sea. And although he supported publishing this data openly, the Journal of medicine refused his proposal due to how and the way in which this data was obtained as many family members of those Jews who had been victims of the experiments would not accept it and it would also send a message that by using this data all the evil and the horrific acts that had been performed are forgotten. On the other hand, this is why I ask myself whether this benefit of new improvements to society is enough to justify such acts.   

   Nonetheless, if we look at other real life situations that involved more or less the same circumstances , there is no concern that is inappropriate. For example, many donors are to be killed by extracting the organ in particular for the good of other person. Meaning that the donor is being killed in order to save the other person. As with the Nazi experiments, the Jews were killed to obtain data that now is used to save lives. At the same time ,  the ‘anti – vivisection law’[5] which was supported by the Nazis, meant the protection of animals against scientific research and cruelty for human treatment’. Yet still many countries like the United States practice animal research. Furthermore, the Weimar government in 1931 stated that all experiments that were to be tested on humans , had to first be performed in animals. And although it is a bit irrational to compare these two situations with what the Nazis did in WWII , still not many people are concerned about these issues.  Because if Nazis killed people for research and we just do the same with animals should we all then call ourselves Nazis? This is when I ask myself whether we , humans , have or not the same rights as animals. In this specific case of human experimentation, Dr. Sigmund Rascher claimed that ." It states that human beings were needed "because these experiments cannot be conducted with monkeys, as has been tried...."

   However,  this cases were brought to justice before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg and such doctors were charged with crimes against humanity due to the horrific experiments they had conducted at both Dachau and  Auschwitz. In the Nuremberg trial ,  various clauses were agreed:[6] the voluntary consent of the human is absolutely essential , the experiment should be conducted to avoid mental and physical injury , no experiment should be conducted if there is a prior reason to think that death or injury  could happen and during the experiment the human can decide at any time whether he/she wants it to stop. Not only such clauses were created to condemn these acts but also the Environmental Protection Agency banned the use of Nazi research in a study on phosgene gas. In addition to this, the reason why I personally believe that we shouldn’t use data from Nazi experiments is not only because in my opinion is morally wrong but also because the data is not accurate. I believe this because Jay Katz of the Yale University School of Law says  "They're of no scientific value’ and many scientists have tested that the results that Rascher's got from the lab report regarding the frozen prisoners is actually invalid.   

It is more than clear that ethics play a major role when deciding whether this data should or shouldn’t be used. But what we all agree with is that no one should be tortured for the greater good of others. In conclusion, due to the memories I personally have from the way I’ve been taught the Holocaust in Germany, the emotions of both the Jewish victims and the family members, I see no reason why this data should be published or used. Because yes , no more harm is going to be done to those people by using it but it seems to me that using the data would mean that such acts have not been ‘ that bad’ after all. One picture that really shocked me when doing this essay was the picture of a Jewish kid that had a scar under his arm due to the injection that was given to him with tuberculosis as part of a medical experiment[7]. I strongly believe that these acts can not be justified and the fact that they have helped the research of many diseases nowadays does not justify their performance and the way the data was gathered.


[1] A German SS doctor who had conducted medical experiments for the Luftwaffe at Dachau.  [2] An Austrian physician who performed experiments upon concentration camp prisoners.  [3] A German medical doctor who conducted medical experiments on humans in WWII  [4] Biology Professor at the Victoria University in Vancouver  [5] http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Antivivisection       "Antivivisection." West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. 2008. The Gale Group 29 Oct. 2015     [6] https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/nazi_experiments.html  The Gale Group. "Nazi Medical Experiments." Nuremberg Trials. The Library, 2008. Web. 29 Oct. 2015.     [7] http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/es/gallery.php?ModuleId=10005168&MediaType=PH  "Nazi Medical Experiments - Fotografía." Holocaust Encyclopedia. United States Holocaust Memorial Council, 18 Aug. 2015. Web. 29 Oct. 2015.     http://www.nytimes.com/1989/05/21/us/nazi-scientists-and-ethics-of-today.html  Wilkerson, Isabel. "Nazi Scientists and Ethics of Today." The New York Times. The New York Times, 20 May 1989. Web. 29 Oct. 2015.   

 EXAMPLE III


The Nazi Experiments are an extremely controversial issue. The jlaw.com article “The Ethics Of Using Medical Data From Nazi Experiments” provides incredible insight and information regarding the issue. This issue touches several areas of knowledge. The issue for many scientists and researchers becomes whether they can or should use the results from the experiments. Since this question can use almost every way of knowing, a useful knowledge question would be how far should we trust studies that require information from inhumane experiments?

            The first Way of Knowing to consider in terms of the knowledge question is emotion. An example for emotion could be found in the high altitude experiments at Dachau. According to the article, Doctor Rascher kept people in low-pressure rooms and dissected their brains (while alive) to prove theories about the subsequent brain effects. These sorts of facts make people feel extreme sadness and anger. For some, this anger is used to argue against the use of the subsequently collected data. Humans feel for the suffering of the victims of these experiments and don’t feel it to be right for the information to be used. However, the same emotions can be used argue that the victim gave their life in the experiment, so the least we can do is make it work something. Another example of an experiment would be the Poison Experiment. The Poison Experiment was conducted by a team at Buchenwald and was simply attempting to find more timely ways of kill. In contrast to the previous experiment mentioned, this one is far less arguable for the point of use. The experiments result can in principle almost exclusively only be sued for evil. Due to this, the emotional standpoint can only argue against use of results. The area of knowledge of Ethics best fits the emotion standpoints in this case, as ethical factors must be considered alongside emotional factors to come up with an argument. If emotion is so deeply effected by the facts, it begs the question of whether further use of the collected information can even be trusted.

            Another Way of Knowing to consider is reason. Part 4 of the article takes into consideration possible uses for the Nazi Experiment data. “Pozos’ chilling dilemma” refers to a Dr. Robert Pozos at the University of Minnesota of Medicine. Dr. Pozos has done extensive research on the matter of warming up patients who have been cooled to a point beyond hypothermia. However, he claims he cannot properly receive further information on waking people from a frozen state. The Nazi Freezing Experiments could provide the information he needs. Using reason, one can see how since this may save peoples’ lives in the future, using the results from the experiments might be a good idea. Another argument derivative of reason would be that these experiments might never be repeated, so if the information exists, it might as well be used. In this case, the “study” as referred to in the knowledge question can be trusted and might even be of benefit to humanity in the long run. This can be related to the area of knowledge “Human Sciences”. The human sciences can always use new sensitive data. However, using reason, it is important to remember that just because the data comes from a negative place doesn’t mean it will be used for a negative thing. In fact, usually said data would be used for the greater good.

            In conclusion, the ways of knowing of emotion and reason, and the areas of knowledge of ethics and human sciences fit well together to create several well-rounded arguments for why the Nazi Experiments’ data should or shouldn’t be used. It becomes apparent that which ones are used and in what way determines a final argument.





Bibliography:



Cohen, Baruch C. "Jewish Law - Articles ("The Ethics Of Using Medical Data From Nazi Experiments")." Jewish Law - Articles ("The Ethics Of Using Medical Data From Nazi Experiments"). Ira Kasdan, n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2015. .
 



In this essay, I will be asking the knowledge question: How can we know for sure that Nazis conducted medical experiments? This includes the knowledge question how can we know with any certainty the sorts and results of experiments on Jewish and other concentration camp prisoners during World War II? This precludes detailed factual questions about locations, times, types, duration of the experiments as well as names and nationalities and religions of the nonconsenting subjects and inhumane practitioners. Another knowledge question will investigate the ways can we know that Nazis performed atrocious experiments on unwilling subjects. However, once it has been reasonably established that and how we can know that Nazis conducted horribly inhumane experiments that can only be likened to the basest and sickest, most sadistic form of torture, the knowledge question arises how can we know beyond any doubt or counterclaim that such acts are incontestably cruel and unethical, indeed evil. How and to what extent can we know that the fruits of such unethical acts are just as poisonous as the root from which they sprang and this prohibits any further clinical research using the so-called “data” obtained from these evil experiments.

To address these linked questions, two “Areas of Knowledge” will be applied: Human Science and Ethics since the broader topic involves experiments on humans that have far-reaching ethical implications. Two “Ways of knowing” in this case involve language as it transmits the historical acts, thoughts and opinions of the victims and Nazi perpetrators, and emotion as this subject is often so vile and repugnant that I had to force myself to continue reading through the details of cases and repress my irritation, reprehension, rejection and disgust.

My motivation for knowing more about the Nazi experiments is related to several personal and sociopolitical situations. My grandparents and father are German doctors and surgeons who were educated at German medical schools and perhaps might have indirectly “benefited” from the results of the “research”  conducted by the ruthless Nazi doctors. Another motivation has to do with the present political climate in Germany, in which reactionary parties and groups such as AfD and Pegida are claiming historical revisionism and outright duplicitousness and prevarication by the Allied Forces after World War II. These pro-German voices  and Holocaust deniers have suggested against constitutional law and present historical conventions that the Allied Forces’ “exaggerated” genocidal reports, the high numbers of deaths and scope and types of atrocities  committed for the purpose of demoralizing and demonizing Germans as well as obtaining higher reparations from the possibly still “politically contaminated” and “antagonistic” German citizens. I am also interested in this knowledge question because it seems to me that the Jews in Israel are now practicing genocide and criminal atrocities with respect to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Finally, obviously another motivation is to understand, practice and apply TOK concepts and methods (reading, reflection, discussion, analysis, perception, intuition-feeling) to this emotionally and politically loaded topic.

I chose emotion as one of the methods used to produce knowledge because these emotions triggered physiological reactions in me that are not socially conditioned, i.e. disgust signals innate aversion which indicates inherent not socially programmed repulsion. Our reptilian brains have a binary adaptive function of attraction-repulsion, reward-pain, go-to and go-away from, a biological preference evolutionarily installed to preserve life. This is seen for instance in the fact that rotting food smells bad to us, so we won’t eat it and become  sick. Blood also triggers fear and survival issues. Finally, I have to admit against a bad conscience that sometimes the feeling of a need for revenge arose. The sense of injustice was so great that I felt angry and this anger sought an outlet, to redress the injustice that befell the victims.  Shame mixed with a twinge of guilt was another emotion that occurred since I am part German.  What surprised me the most, however, was the weird curiosity that I felt when reading about some of the “experiments” because I wondered if and how the subjects survived and what such an experience did to their bodies and psyches. This is an example of  interaction of historical knowledge with personal knowledge (how my ethnic identity as a half-German implicates me… collective guilt)

I chose language as the other way of knowing (to approach and critically assess a body of knowledge based on claims) because it transmits and shades stored historical data in the form of letters, diaries, reports, lab protocols, statistical data that was scientifically evaluated and represents the arguments for and against the ethics of using Nazi data obtained via torture for future medical purposes.
Language, in its literal and visual sense, is comprised of the following:

“Written documents—hundreds of thousands of letters, memos, blueprints, orders, bills, speeches, articles, memoirs, and confessions.
Eyewitness testimony—accounts from survivors, Jewish Sonderkommandos (…), SS guards, commandants, local townspeople, and even high-ranking Nazis (…)
Photographs—including official military and press photographs, civilian photographs, secret photographs taken by survivors, aerial photographs, German and Allied film footage, and unofficial photographs taken by the German military.”[1]


Real life situation: use of the term “data” to describe the recorded results of human suffering framed as medical experiments.
Human science  and Ethics are areas of knowing with regard to the term ”data” and “experiments” and the ways of knowing that involve language and emotion.
In human science there are prescriptive protocols for obtaining, recording, assessing and applying information according to evidence-based conventions accepted in the scientific method. It is stated throughout the article by Baruch Cohen that the term “data” is misleading and the conditions under which the “data” were accumulated and assembled do not correspond to scientific norms and are thus invalid. Because senseless and nonconsensual human suffering occurred, we can infer that these acts were and remain unethical.
Data is an “…amorphous term." "Data" is merely an impersonal recordation of words and numbers. It seems unattached to the tortured or their pain. One cannot fully confront the dilemma of using the results of Nazi experiments without sensitizing one's self to the images of the frozen, the injected, the inseminated, and the sterilized. The issue of whether to use the Nazi data is a smokescreen from the reality of human suffering.”[2] These adjectival nouns based on verbs are only a few examples of the torture visited on the prisoners.
 The Jewish law professor and expert Baruch Cohen suggests in his astute analysis that the word data needs to be substituted with “an Auschwitz bar of soap” since it is made from  the boiled remains of heinously tortured and murdered Jews. As such it “sensitizes and personalizes” the horrors committed and inflicted, and he states is the only way that suffering can be adequately dealt with.[3] 
Language can reveal or conceal and should not be used to “….dilute or detract from the enormous and unspeakable suffering of those who perished in, and survived from the death camps….”[4]
Counterargument:

In all cases cited, the number and type of subjects in the varying kinds of experiments as well as their immediate deaths or resulting deaths are listed in acribic, painstaking detail. There is nothing vague or ambiguous. Language clearly reveals what happened when, where, how, why, for how long, with what effect in all the experiments and scenarios. The claim that the methods were not valid can be overturned by the fact that  “…these doctors were actually among the top professionals in their fields. Their experimental results were presented in scientific journals and in prestigious conferences and academies”. The claim that the experiments were and are unethical could be softened by the perception that these prisoners were going to die anyway and the results of the experiments were intended to protect other lives.
Real life situation: Nazi phosgene experiments and EPA’s rejection of use of their results
The argument was made that since there were no and for ethical reasons could not be any other comparable experiments on humans as to the effects of varying doses of phosgene gas, the only available data to understand and protect the health and safety of employees and citizens in the vicinity of manufacturing plants, that produce phosgene for commercial and military purposes, should be consulted.

 “The Nazi phosgene data could have saved the lives of the residents who live near the manufacturing plant. It had the potential to save the lives of our American Troops stationed in the Persian Gulf, in the event of a chemical attack by Sadam Hussein. People's lives were severely threatened.”[5] The US Environmental Protection Agency could have used the Nazi data for the greater good of thousands of modern people.
“…three case examples [cited by Baruch Cohen] demonstrate scenarios where Nazi data could be critical to saving victims' lives today.”[6] As a legal expert and Rabbi with privileged moral knowledge from a 5000 year old religious and ethical tradition codified in countless tractata, the recommendation is that “…when the medical crisis is real and the benefit to society is great, the data should be used.” [7]
This is the utilitarian view of ethics based on a cost-result ratio. If more are helped than harmed, the equation speaks for implementation. Several examples are given in the article of historical or Talmudic instances in which emotions did not play any role in ascertaining the value of an experience and outcome. Another ethical view to justifying appropriation and application of Nazi data acquired through premeditated and unapologetic torture claims that “the use of the data would serve as a lesson to the world, that the victims did not die futilely, and that a post mortem use of the data would retroactively give "purpose" to their otherwise meaningless deaths. “[8] Purpose means in the most basic terms that life can emerge from death, health from sickness, joy from suffering. This is how suffering can become meaningful and provide ultimate benefit.
The language used by the proponents, while biased and persuasive, nevertheless neutral, seemingly calming. Behind the surface of an apparently objective discussion of cost-benefit ratios, an intense moral war rages seething with elf-righteous emotion and waged with heavily loaded language.

The counterargument in terms of ethics runs along the lines that two wrongs do not make a right and the end does not justify the means. No justice could be ultimately served if life, health, safety and commercial or military benefit were allowed to emerge from misanthropic Nazi torture and murders. The scenario is hypothetical at best, the data's potential to save lives remains rightfully untested.  Even if the potential to save a single or thousands of lives were present, nothing could untether it from retroactive collusion  in the victims' torture and death.”[9]  There can never be ethical partnering with Nazis. There can never be an honourable reason or result for colluding with the enemy. [10] In terms of human science, the counterclaim is that the data is not transferable due to the emaciated, deplorable and tenuous condition of the prisoners – who were in no way comparable to well-fed, modern Americans enjoying every amenity of life; indeed, even US soldiers in a war zone in Iraq live better than any Nazi camp prisoner subject to the unspeakable horrors of experiments that today would even be considered unethical for animals. In human science there are strict guidelines to minimize any and all forms of unnecessary physical, psychological and moral suffering. Language comes into play since any of these terms could be deconstructed: how are unnecessary or necessary defined and by whom, when, and who and how are these parameters audited and enforced? How could victims speak about the horrors inflicted upon them, so as to create depth of understanding and empathy? How can language convey and elicit appropriate emotions regarding acts and results willfully brought forth by humans lacking the key qualities of humanity?

In conclusion, this demanding TOK exercise examining the pros and cons of trying to salvage useful value from vile acts was difficult and uncomfortable at several levels. The intellectual and emotional awkwardness are part of the tension that emerges from dialectically endured cognitive dissonance. When we push past easily formed opinions and simply accept one view of a situation, we are avoiding the real work of dismantling and inspecting other perspectives and their ramifications. It hurts and is hard to hold several contradictory perspectives at once, as a seesaw almost, discounting each other, but I have grown my mental muscles, stretched my conceptual horizon, learned not to shortchange others’ opinions and principles in order to facilitate my own comfort.


[1] Grobmann, Alex, and Michael Shermann. "Denying History." Michael Shermer » Denying History. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2015.
[2] Cohen, Baruch C. "The Ethics Of Using Medical Data From Nazi Experiments." Jewish Law - Articles. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2015.

[3] Cohen, Baruch C. "The Ethics Of Using Medical Data From Nazi Experiments." Jewish Law - Articles. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2015.


[5] Cohen, Baruch C. "The Ethics Of Using Medical Data From Nazi Experiments." Jewish Law - Articles. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2015.

[6] Cohen, Baruch C. "The Ethics Of Using Medical Data From Nazi Experiments." Jewish Law - Articles. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2015.

[7] Cohen, Baruch C. "The Ethics Of Using Medical Data From Nazi Experiments." Jewish Law - Articles. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2015.
[8] Cohen, Baruch C. "The Ethics Of Using Medical Data From Nazi Experiments." Jewish Law - Articles. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2015.
[9] Cohen, Baruch C. "The Ethics Of Using Medical Data From Nazi Experiments." Jewish Law - Articles. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2015.