Mind, the Gap

TitleMind, the Gap
Publication TypeCase Study
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsSkipper, RB, Connolly, P, Althaus, RA, Malm, H
Date Published01/2016
PublisherAssociation for Practical and Professional Ethics
Publication Languageeng
AbstractAfter September 11, 2001, and the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, the Bush administration initiated an aggressive program of interrogating detainees. Some “enhanced” interrogation techniques struck critics as inhuman treatment or torture. Methods included forced standing, sleep deprivation, exposure to cold, waterboarding, and threat of harm from dogs. In conducting such interrogations, interrogators sought the services of psychologists, psychiatrists, and medical doctors.  The Code of Ethics for the American Psychological Association (APA) advises its members to seek to “safeguard the welfare and rights of those with whom they interact professionally and other affected persons.” Clearly, the values expressed in the code conflicted with the requirements placed on psychologists by interrogators. To remedy this conflict, in 2002, the APA amended section 1.02 of the Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct, entitled “Conflicts Between Ethics and Law, Regulations, or Other Governing Legal Authority” to read, “[i]f psychologists’ ethical responsibilities conflict with law, regulations, or other governing legal authority, psychologists make known their commitment to the Ethics Code and take steps to resolve the conflict. If the conflict is irresolvable via such means, psychologists may adhere to the requirements of the law, regulations, or other governing legal authority.” Thus, the code permits psychologists to set aside ethical considerations when these put them at odds with government or military interrogators.
NotesCase from the 2016 Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl National Competition © 2016 by Robert Boyd Skipper, Peggy Connolly, Ruth Ann Althaus, Heidi Malm