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Ethical Considerations of Providing Polygraph Countermeasures to the Public

NCJ Number
Polygraph Volume: 31 Issue: 4 Dated: 2002 Pages: 254-262
Paul M. Menges
Dean Pollina Ph.D.
Date Published
9 pages
The article reviews ethical situations, relevant guidelines and statements, and alternatives in providing polygraph countermeasures to the public.
For more than 50 years, the polygraph has been used in one form or another to determine reality. During this same time frame, the benefits and problems of the polygraph have been debated by both supporters and disbelievers. This article addresses whether it is ethical to provide information to and assist guilty individuals attempting to defeat a legitimate, legal, publicly accepted, ethical procedure used by law enforcement and national security agencies; agencies who routinely use the polygraph to protect the public and promote public safety. The article begins with a theoretical discussion of the ethical situation. When necessary, those who disagree with generally accepted measurement tools, such as polygraph examinations, have the individual right, as well as moral and ethical obligations to work for changing the methods of assessment. However, when used to subvert the system and/or threaten public safety, the ethical analysis can not be justified. There is a market for information on how to defeat law enforcement and security procedures. However, law enforcement and national security issues are generally promulgated by the citizenry for the good of all and public safety. Acts to counter these efforts are by definition unethical. Positive alternatives, countering the anti-polygraph movement, could be with efforts by examiners and professional polygraph organizations to engage the opposition in constructive dialogue to address the issue of aiding guilty parties or have polygraph proponents contribute toward furthering the science by openly engaging in legitimate discussions with those entrusted to publicly scrutinize the process. References