A more sinister and tragic result from deceptive research is seen in the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. Thinking that they were receiving treatment when treatment was in fact withheld, a number of participants died, while some family members contracted the disease. In these cases, a significant amount of information about the study being conducted was withheld from the participants, effectively taking away their capacity to render informed consent.
It is undeniable that the three studies contributed much in their respective fields. Humphreys’ and Milgram’s findings deconstructed various stereotypes about sexual behavior and psychological depravity respectively, while much about the effects of untreated syphilis was known as a result of the Tuskegee study. However, the intrinsic value of the human person is still more important than generating knowledge for its own sake. In neglecting informed consent, the volitional capacity of a person is essentially overlooked, making the study unethical. In this sense, the perceived value of the research is not seen as sufficient justification for breaches in ethical research. More importantly, it is still possible to arrive at essentially the same results without having to resort to unethical means. The main challenge is to ensure that the value and dignity of the human person are upheld and that the participant should be informed of the purpose of the research, the perceived benefits of the research, and those who will benefit from it.