Tag Archives | Ethics

From Gary Webb to James Risen: The struggle for the soul of journalism

Gary Webb In His Own Words 623.jpg

Gary Webb

Andrew O’Hehir  has a nuanced view of ethics in journalism, reflected here in this essay for Salon:

In thinking about the cases of Gary Webb and James Risen, two famous investigative reporters aggressively persecuted for their explosive revelations (in very different situations, and with different results), we are drawn into the thorny question of journalism and its so-called professional ethics. How well do the supposed codes of journalism work, and whom do they serve and protect? Is the primary role of journalism as a social institution to discover the truth as best it can and raise the level of public discourse, or to preserve its own power and prestige and privilege? I don’t claim to know the answers with any certainty. If anything, the stories of Webb and Risen suggest that those questions yield different answers in different contexts.

I’ve been a working journalist for more than 25 years, across the demise of print and the rise of the Internet, and I’ve always viewed the idea of journalism as a profession as, at best, a double-edged sword.

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Live Your Own Horror Movie: McKamey Manor

Warning: The following videos show intense footage that could be triggering and/or disturbing.

You have to be at least 21 to attend this four to seven hour trip through Hell.

via Can You Actually:

Here are a few requirements you must pass to even be able to enter: you now must be 21 years of age (previously was 18), you’re required to sign a wavier, and you must be in excellent physical condition. Only two people go in at a time, and get this… it can last anywhere from 4 – 7 hours. They actually now only take four people through the haunted house each week.

They’re allowed to touch you, gag you, put a bag over your head and pretty much anything that’s not illegal. It’s also one of the few haunted houses that stays open year round, and the only haunted house in the world where admission is free….. I’m serious.

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When is torture okay?

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

via Psychology Today:

Imagine that someone close to you was in imminent danger and the only solution involved having police use torture to extract information from a suspect in custody. Would you agree or not?

While torture remains a divisive topic with many countries around the world authorizing its use,  international human rights codes and the legal codes of most countries provide comprehensive legal protections against torture under any circumstances. Public opinion polls tend to be consistent in showing that only 34 percent of people worldwide actual endorse the use of torture though the numbers vary from country to country.  Still, despite the consensus that torture is both immoral and ineffective, both as a means of punishment and as a way of gaining information, controversy still surrounds its use. Issues such as  renditionwaterboarding, and the very definition of torture continue to influence international relations, especially given the current “War on Terror”  that shows no sign of ending.

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The Hijacking of Philosophy

By dakine kane via Flickr. (CC by 2.0)

By dakine kane via Flickr. (CC by 2.0)

via Things That Shouldn’t Still Exist:

By my estimate, the majority of people who begin reading this are already of the opinion that philosophy is little more than a tedious form of mental masturbation, and worse, almost entirely useless.  My response:  I must sadly agree.  On the other hand, I only concede under the assumption we are speaking about 98% of the philosophy you learn in school and that most supposed “philosophers” choose to focus on.  Therefore, if you think philosophy sucks and has little bearing on anything real, I don’t blame you.  However, do read on as I would like to explain how it has been hijacked over the last 50 years.  In particular, the modern connotation of the word “philosophy” seems to largely exclude it’s most useful facet:  ethical philosophy, or as I refer to it, personal philosophy.

Below is a brief history on the progression of my thought processes and how I came to give a shit about any of this:

I can remember back to when I first began to have thoughts of depth.  My parents moved us out of state between fourth and fifth grade, so not only was I friendless, but also suddenly in the lowest grade at a brand new school.  Before that, I had lots of friends and mindless social interactions, but unlike the elementary grades, middle school was full of cliques.

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An Ethical Framework for the Use of Enhancement Drugs

By Ondřej Karlík via Wikimedia Commons

By Ondřej Karlík via Wikimedia Commons.

This post originally appeared on Philosophical Disquisitions on August 12, 2014 by John Danaher.

Debate about the merits of enhancement tends to be pretty binary. There are some — generally called bioconservatives — who are opposed to it; and others — transhumanists, libertarians and the like — who embrace it wholeheartedly. Is there any hope for an intermediate approach? One that doesn’t fall into the extremes of reactionary reject or uncritical endorsement?

Probably. Indeed, a careful reading of many pro- and anti-enhancement writers suggests that they are not, always and everywhere, in favour or against the use of enhancement. But to sustain the intermediate approach, we need some framework for deciding when enhancement is permissible and when it is not. In their paper, “Who Should Enhance? Conceptual and Normative Dimensions of Cognitive Enhancement”, Filippo Santoni di Sio, Philip Robichaud and Nicole Vincent try to provide one such framework.Read the rest

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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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