Ethical Dilemmas In Charlie Gordon's Flowers For Algernon

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Flowers for Algernon explores themes of ethical dilemmas in scientific research. Charlie Gordon is the first human to undergo an experimental operation to triple his IQ from 68 to 204. His mental capacities dramatically increase, but the consequences are drastic when the operation fails and he regresses. Under Charlie’s circumstances, the operation was unethical.
Charlie, mentally disabled, cannot give informed consent. While being tested for eligibility for the operation, Charlie writes in his report, “I told them becaus all my life I wantid to be smart and not dumb. But its very hard to be smart. They said you know it will probly be tempirery. I said yes. Miss Kinnian told me. I dont care if it herts.” He clearly does not fully grasp the implications of the surgery. Charlie only understands the operation may hurt, missing other risks like surgical complications. Failing to understand what the surgery will do to his brain, he only knows it will make him “smart”. He cannot comprehend what smart means, only wishing to be the same as others. At an IQ of 68, it may not be possible for his brain to make an informed decision. It is unethical to perform a potentially harmful experiment on someone who is unable to give permission.
Charlie’s logical-mathematical and linguistic intelligences skyrocket,
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The doctors failed to use a properly consenting patient, neglected Charlie’s emotional state, and failed to conduct proper research. If Charlie had a caretaker who could give consent on his behalf, similar to a minor, an operation of this sort could be ethical. Moreover, it could be ethical if the doctors’ research and further develop their theory before using a human test subject, and pay close attention to Charlie’s emotional and mental health. However, Charlie’s operation was performed without these precautions and guidelines, and he suffers greatly in the
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