The Harm Dilemma

765 Words4 Pages
Anthropologists face ethical decisions every day, in which they must balance the often competing interests of their obligations against the demands that are placed upon them. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ethical behaviour as “conforming to accepted standards of conduct”. For Anthropologists, the ethical risks faced in fieldwork are defined by their ethical obligations. This paper will discuss, in a limited scope, both the ethical risks of fieldwork and the obligations of an anthropologist. In order to understand the ethical risks that exist in anthropological fieldwork, the ethical obligations must first be understood. A variety of organizations dictates the anthropological standards of professional conduct. According to Miller et al. “Canadian anthropologists face new ethical demands as they must now conform to the ethics policies of cross disciplinary research agencies, in addition to meeting university and anthropological standards” (p.55). However, these are not the only demands anthropologists face in their work. They must also conform to demands imposed by the research funders, the research participants, both individually and as a group, as well as governments, tribal leaders, and band councils. The American Anthropological Association (AAA) has created guidelines, in an effort to assist anthropologists in negotiating the demands of the competing interests with which they are faced. The AAA, in its Statement on Ethics, listed seven Principles of Professional Responsibility, the first of which, or the “primary ethical obligation shared by all anthropologists is to do no harm” (p.4). The other six principles listed in the AAA Statement on Ethics are: 2) Be open and honest regarding your work (p.5), 3) Obtain inform... ... middle of paper ... ...l obligation and risk for anthropologists. Every day anthropologists face ethical decisions, in which they must balance the competing interests of the demands placed upon them in order to choose the action or inaction, which results in the least amount of harm, or no harm. Works Cited American Anthropological Association. 2012. Statement on Ethics: Principles of Professional Responsibilities. Arlington, VA: American Anthropological Association. Retrieved from: http://www.aaanet.org/profdev/ethics/upload/Statement-on-Ethics-Principles-of-Professional-Responsibility.pdf Merriam-Webster Dictionary. 2014. Retrieved from: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ethical Miller, Barbara D., & Penny Van Esterik, & John Van Esterik. 2010. Cultural Anthropology, 4th Canadian edition. Toronto: Pearson Education Canada Inc.
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