How Did Medicine Go So Wrong?

  • Arthur L. Caplan
Part of the Contemporary Issues in Biomedicine, Ethics, and Society book series (CIBES)


Analysis of the ethical issues raised by “experimentation” or medical “treatments” carried out by German physicians and scientists during the time of the Third Reich must be approached with great caution. Talk of ethics seems, at the least, incongruous when the conduct being discussed involves the mass murder of innocent persons. Even to talk of ethics is to risk conferring legitimacy on the patently illegitimate. The myriad crimes carried out under medical supervi-sion in Germany prior to and during World War II were so heartless, cruel, and inhumane that it is not at all evident why it is necessary to subject them to moral analysis. Is there any reason to conduct an ethical analysis of Nazi medical crimes? The conduct of German biomedicine during the Nazi era was prima facie abhorrent and indisputably immoral. There is no need for an argument to prove that what happened was evil.


Concentration Camp German Physician Mass Murder Nazi Regime Mass Killing 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1992

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  • Arthur L. Caplan

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