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The Moral and Ethical Dilemmas of Anthropology

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Anthropological researchers have considerable moral and ethical standards by which their work must be conducted in order to preserve the accuracy and the posterity of the information gathered during the study and also to the persons or cultures of which they study. These two important parts of anthropology – the research and those being researched – can be conflicting. The Code of Ethics of the American Anthropological Association presents itself as a body of guidelines for discussing these ethical and moral conflicts. This allows for researchers in the field of anthropology to have a foundation for understanding what decisions must be made regarding these ethical and moral conflicts and to whom the disclosures of those decisions should be made.

The world of anthropology is tightly woven into research of humans and their cultures. One of the most important principles of the Code of Ethics of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) is found in Part III, Section A, Number 1: “Anthropological researchers have primary ethical obligations to the people, species, and materials they study and to the people with whom they work.” (American Anthropological Association, 2009) This main principle helps to guide social scientists through a maze of ethical dilemmas such as if and how the research itself may harm or otherwise impact those with whom they are studying. While the purpose of the research may be to gain knowledge of the plight of a certain individual or group of individuals, by the extension of the sharing of this knowledge the person or persons being studied may draw unwanted attention. By utilizing the Code of Ethics, the framework has been established so that the researcher is guided “to consult actively with...

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...the anthropological and other social sciences the basis for forming non-biased studies results that can be respectfully referenced and relied upon for their integrity.

Works Cited
American Anthropological Association. (2009, February). Code of Ethics of the American Anthropological Association. Retrieved March 09, 2012, from American Anthropological Association:
Colson, E. (2006). Case 21: Ethical Dilemmas and Moral Responsibilities. Handbook on Ethical Issues in Anthropology.
Forbes, J. (1998). Kennewick Man: A Legal Historical Analysis. Retrieved from University of California Department of Native American Studies:

To Cite this Work:

Suit, Darla. (2012, April). The Moral and Ethical Dilemmas of Anthropology. Saint Leo University.

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