Tag Archives | Ethics

Matthew Calarco: Animal Rights Beyond Anthropocentrism

calarcoTraditional contemporary animal rights issues are mostly founded on an assumption that we have solid definitions of what constitutes a “human” and what constitutes an “animal”. What if our definitions of these terms are called into question? What does the animal rights issue look like if we construct our ideas about humanity and animality in different ways? Are our lines dividing humanity and animality solidly drawn, or can they bleed and bend, perhaps be drawn in completely different ways?

Philosophy professor and author of Zoographies Matthew Calarco approaches animal rights from a standpoint of continental philosophy: if our definitions of what a “human” is and what an “animal” is are not firmly set, then our consideration of animal rights, if not all of ethics, can enter entirely different areas the current dialog excludes.

via On Human-Nonhuman Relations:

1) Why do you think is important to employ continental philosophy for the animal question?

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Choosing An Autonomous Ethics System For Your Robot

In ten years, how will the machines that run your daily existence respond when confronted with life-or-death decisions? Matthieu Cherubini at the Royal College of Art offers prototypes of Humanist, Protector, and Profit-Based moral parameters for self-driving cars:
Many car manufacturers are projecting that by 2025 most cars will operate on driveless systems. How can such systems be designed to accommodate the complicatedness of ethical and moral reasoning? Just like choosing the color of a car, ethics can become a commodified feature in autonomous vehicles that one can buy, change, and repurchase, depending on personal taste. Three distinct algorithms have been created - each adhering to a specific ethical principle/behaviour set-up - and embedded into driverless virtual cars that are operating in a simulated environment, where they will be confronted with ethical dilemmas.
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Cloning The Mammoth

Paul Jamin - Le MammouthNathaniel Rich writes for the New York Times Magazine that “bringing extinct animals back to life is really happening — and it’s going to be very, very cool. Unless it ends up being very, very bad.”

The first time Ben Novak saw a passenger pigeon, he fell to his knees and remained in that position, speechless, for 20 minutes. He was 16. At 13, Novak vowed to devote his life to resurrecting extinct animals. At 14, he saw a photograph of a passenger pigeon in an Audubon Society book and “fell in love.” But he didn’t know that the Science Museum of Minnesota, which he was then visiting with a summer program for North Dakotan high-school students, had them in their collection. He was shocked when he came across a cabinet containing two stuffed pigeons, a male and a female, mounted in lifelike poses. He was overcome by awe, sadness and the birds’ physical beauty: their bright auburn breasts, slate-gray backs and the dusting of iridescence around their napes that, depending on the light and angle, appeared purple, fuchsia or green.

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Are We Too Close to Making Gattaca a Reality?

English: Blastocyst on day 5 after fertilizati...

Blastocyst on day 5 after fertilization Courtesy: RWJMS IVF Program (Photo credit: Wikipedia) (PD)

The benefits of these techniques can prevent suffering, but imagine futures literally written in DNA before birth. All it would take is an ethical hop, and lots of money.

via Scientific American

Sometime in the not-too-distant future, Marie and Antonio Freeman step into a doctor’s office to design their next child.

“Your extracted eggs, Marie, have been fertilized with Antonio’s sperm,” the doctor says. “After screening we’re left with, as you see, two healthy boys and two very healthy girls.”

A monitor displays what looks like soap bubbles that bumped into each other on a green background.

“Naturally, no critical predispositions to any of the major heritable diseases,” the doctor says. “All that remains is to select the most compatible candidate. We might as well start with gender—have you given it any thought?”

“We would want Vincent to have a brother, you know, to play with,” Marie says, referring to her first child.

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Of Immanuel Kant and Sexbots

Dollfriend  (CC)

Dollfriend (CC)

posits the question, are sexbots more like animals or more like stones? Via Talking Philosophy

The Fox sci-fi buddy cop show Almost Human episode on sexbots inspired me to revisit the ethics of sexbots. While the advanced, human-like models of the show are still things of fiction, there is already considerable research and development devoted to creating sexbots. As such, it seems well worth considering the ethical issues involving sexbots real and fictional.

At this time, sexbots are clearly mere objects—while often made to look like humans, they do not have the qualities that would make them even person-like. As such, ethical concerns involving these sexbots would not involve concerns about wrongs done to such objects—presumably they cannot be wronged. One potentially interesting way to approach the matter of sexbots is to make use of Kant’s discussion of ethics and animals.

In his ethical theory Kant makes it quite clear that animals are means rather than ends.

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DisinfoCast: 80: Daniele Bolelli: How to Be Less of An A**hole

Dan22

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I spring an entirely unplanned question on fighting philosopher Daniele Bolelli (“On the Warrior’s Path”, “50 Things You’re Not Supposed to Know: Religion”): How can we all strive toward not being assholes? What develops is an interesting conversation on empathy, jealousy, violence, and the philosophical nature of good and evil.

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Medical, Military, and Ethics Experts Say Health Professionals Designed and Participated in Cruel, Inhumane, and Degrading Treatment and Torture of Detainees

The documentary “Doctors of the Dark Side” revealed the issues highlighted in the report.

The Institute on Medicine as a Profession’s press release, below, summarizes the report “Ethics Abandoned: Medical Professionalism and Detainee Abuse in the War on Terror” that is causing a massive stir in the media. Let’s hope it ends up affecting policy…

New York, NY — An independent panel of military, ethics, medical, public health, and legal experts today charged that U.S. military and intelligence agencies directed doctors and psychologists working in U.S. military detention centers to violate standard ethical principles and medical standards to avoid infliction of harm. The Task Force on Preserving Medical Professionalism in National Security Detention Centers (see attached) concludes that since September 11, 2001, the Department of Defense (DoD) and CIA improperly demanded that U.S. military and intelligence agency health professionals collaborate in intelligence gathering and security practices in a way that inflicted severe harm on detainees in U.S.

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Are Cyborg Cockroach Kits Ethical?

news-roboroachI can’t say this seems any less or more ethical than smacking the bejeezus out of the things with shoes or spraying them with chemicals…

Via Wired:

RoboRoach #12 and its brethren are billed as a do-it-yourself neuroscience experiment that allows students to create their own “cyborg” insects. The roach was the main feature of the TEDx talk by Greg Gage and Tim Marzullo, co-founders of an educational company called Backyard Brains. After a summer Kickstarter campaign raised enough money to let them hone their insect creation, the pair used the Detroit presentation to show it off and announce that starting in November, the company will, for $99, begin shipping live cockroaches across the nation, accompanied by a microelectronic hardware and surgical kits geared toward students as young as 10 years old.

That news, however, hasn’t been greeted warmly by everyone. Gage and Marzullo, both trained as neuroscientists and engineers, say that the purpose of the project is to spur a “neuro-revolution” by inspiring more kids to join the fields when they grow up, but some critics say the project is sending the wrong message.

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The Danger Of Putting A Price On Everything

market societyVia Motherboard, Harvard philosophy professor Michael Sandel on our slide toward a market society:

In recent decades we’ve been in the grip of market faith, which says that markets are the primary instrument for achieving the public good. This assumption has gone largely unquestioned in the past 30 years. As a result from that we have drifted from being a market economy to being a market society.

A market economy is a valuable tool for organizing productive activity. A market society, on the other hand, is a place where everything is up for sale, in which money and market values begin to dominate every aspect of life. From family and personal relationships to health, education, civic life, and politics. We need to step back and ask some fundamental questions about what the role of money and markets should be.

Utilitarianism assumes that all good things in life can be translated into a single uniform currency or a measure of value, typically money.

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We Don’t Torture People

Psychologists for Social Responsibility is an independent, non-profit organization that applies psychological knowledge and expertise to promote peace, social justice, human rights, and sustainability. Members are psychologists, students, and other advocates for social change in the United States and around the world. Appalled by the torture program at Guantanamo Bay, they are appealing to other health care professionals to join them in signing a letter of protest addressed to President Obama (below).

One of the main signatories is Martha Davis, director of Doctors of the Dark Side, who has just released this video of actress Mercedes Ruehl and attorney Kristine Huskey in a reprise of ex-CIA Director George Tenet’s extraordinary argument about torture with Scott Pelley of 60 Minutes:

Dear Colleagues,

Attached and pasted below is a letter to President Obama that is being sponsored by Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR).

Because the hunger strike at Guantanamo is a medical emergency, and the result of intolerable delays in closing the detention facility, health care professionals and human rights advocates bring a special voice to this crisis.

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