Tag Archives | Ethics

Execution by Medical Neglect?

"Mumia03" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mumia03.jpg#/media/File:Mumia03.jpg

“Mumia03″ by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia

Dave Lindorff writes at CounterPunch:

Mumia Abu-Jamal, the radical Philadelphia journalist convicted of killing a white Philadelphia police officer in a trial fraught with prosecutorial misconduct, witness coaching and judicial prejudice back in 1981, spent nearly three decades in solitary confinement in the deliberately designed hell of Pennsylvania’s supermax SCI Green prison before a panel of federal Appeals Court judges eventually ruled that he’d been unconstitutionally sentenced to death.

He, of course, received no apology for the state’s making him illegally and improperly spend all those years in solitary waiting to be wrongfully executed. Instead, with that ruling (after a few years of legal stalling by the Philadelphia district attorney’s office), he was simply switched over to a sentence of life without possibility of parole and moved to the SCI-Mahoney prison in central Pennsylvania.

Now, it appears the state, which lost its chance to execute him, may be trying to kill him another way, as word comes that this world-renowned political prisoner had to be rushed to the hospital this week, unconscious from an undiagnosed case of severe diabetes.

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Florida’s Bathroom Law

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mike LaBossiere via Talking Philosophy:

Being from Maine, I got accustomed to being asked about the cold, lobsters, moose and Stephen King. Living in Florida, I have become accustomed to being asked about why my adopted state is so insane. Most recently, I was asked about the bathroom bill making its way through the House.

The bathroom bill, officially known as HB 583, proposes that it should be a second-degree misdemeanor to “knowingly and willfully” enter a public facility restricted to members “of the other biological sex.” The bill proposes a maximum penalty of 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Some opponents of the bill contend that it is aimed at discriminating against transgender people. Some part of Florida have laws permitting people to use public facilities based on the gender they identify with rather than their biological sex.

Obviously enough, proponents of the bill are not claiming that they are motivated by a dislike of transgender people.

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Journalists Who Hate Whistleblowers

Ahmad Hammoud (CC BY 2.0)

Ahmad Hammoud (CC BY 2.0)

Via John Hanrahan at Consortium News:

A disturbing trend in mainstream U.S. media is how many “star” journalists side with the government in its persecution of whistleblowers – and even disdain fellow reporters who expose secret wrongdoing, an attitude that is destroying what’s left of American democracy, as John Hanrahan explains.

By John Hanrahan

Following the late January guilty verdicts in the espionage trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, more proof emerged — if any more were needed — that many elite mainstream journalists abhor whistleblowers and think they should go to prison when they divulge classified information.

One would think that a business that has relied on confidential informants for some of the major investigative stories of this and the previous century would applaud whistleblowers who risk everything on behalf of the people’s right to know what their government is doing in the shadows.

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Scientists Seek Ban on Method of Editing the Human Genome

Richard Ricciardi (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Richard Ricciardi (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Via Nicholas Wade at The New York Times:

A group of leading biologists on Thursday called for a worldwide moratorium on use of a new genome-editing technique that would alter human DNA in a way that can be inherited.

The biologists fear that the new technique is so effective and easy to use that some physicians may push ahead before its safety can be assessed. They also want the public to understand the ethical issues surrounding the technique, which could be used to cure genetic diseases, but also to enhance qualities like beauty or intelligence. The latter is a path that many ethicists believe should never be taken.

“You could exert control over human heredity with this technique, and that is why we are raising the issue,” said David Baltimore, a former president of the California Institute of Technology and a member of the group whose paper on the topic was published in the journal Science.

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Should prospective parents have to apply for licences? An Ethical Debate

parent_child-191x300This was originally published on Philosophical Disquisitions.

Should prospective parents have to apply for parental licences? The argument seems obvious. Having children is a serious business. Negligent or irresponsible parents risk causing long-term harms to their offspring, harms that often have spillover effects on the rest of society. A licensing system should help us to filter out such parents. Therefore, a licensing system would benefit children and society at large. QED

Of course, I’m being somewhat facetious here. The idea of prospective parents applying for parental licences will strike many as both absurd and offensive. But there is no idea so absurd and offensive that at least one philosopher has not defended it. And when it involves something as contentious as parent-child relationships, you can rest assured that there will be more than one.

In this post, I want to review the philosophical debate about parental licensing. I start by looking at Hugh LaFollette’s now-classic argument in favour of parental licences.… Read the rest

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Coca-Cola Pays Nutrition Experts to Recommend Coke as a Healthy Snack

Beverley Goodwin (CC BY 2.0)

Beverley Goodwin (CC BY 2.0)

In light of dwindling Coke sales in the US, Coca-Cola has begun partnering with fitness and nutrition “experts” to recommend Coke as a healthy snack.

Ethics…

The AP via Mashable:

If a column in honor of heart health suggests a can of Coke as a snack, you might want to read the fine print.

The world’s biggest beverage maker, which struggles with declining soda consumption in the U.S., is working with fitness and nutrition experts who suggest its cola as a healthy treat. In February, for instance, several wrote online pieces for American Heart Month, with each including a mini-can of Coke or small soda as a snack idea.

The mentions — which appeared on nutrition blogs and other sites including those of major newspapers — show the many ways food companies work behind the scenes to cast their products in a positive light, often with the help of third parties who are seen as trusted authorities.

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Intellectual Hipsters and Meta-Contrarianism

220px-Impossible_staircase

Penrose Stairs – Public Domain

Are our ethical positions corrupted by signalling games? How much do aesthetic or community contexts play into our reasoning? It is easy to appear more correct than whoever spoke last. Does this signalling represent a hierarchy of real truth or merely a social game?

Fascinating discussion on the subject of disagreeing with disagreements about disagreements by Yvain on Less Wrong.

WARNING: Beware of things that are fun to argue — Eliezer Yudkowsky

In certain situations refusing to signal can be a sign of high status. Thorstein Veblen invented the term “conspicuous consumption” to refer to the showy spending habits of the nouveau riche, who unlike the established money of his day took great pains to signal their wealth by buying fast cars, expensive clothes, and shiny jewelery. Why was such flashiness common among new money but not old? Because the old money was so secure in their position that it never even occurred to them that they might be confused with poor people, whereas new money, with their lack of aristocratic breeding, worried they might be mistaken for poor people if they didn’t make it blatantly obvious that they had expensive things.

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A New Kind of Mental Disturbance? Drone Pilots Are Quitting in Droves

David Rodriguez Martin (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

David Rodriguez Martin (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Pratap Chatterjee via AlterNet:

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The U.S. drone war across much of the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa is in crisis and not because civilians are dying or the target list for that war or the right to wage it just about anywhere on the planet are in question in Washington. Something far more basic is at stake: drone pilots are quitting in record numbers.

There are roughly 1,000 such drone pilots, known in the trade as “18Xs,” working for the U.S. Air Force today. Another 180 pilots graduate annually from a training program that takes about a year to complete at Holloman and Randolph Air Force bases in, respectively, New Mexico and Texas. As it happens, in those same 12 months, about 240 trained pilots quit and the Air Force is at a loss to explain the phenomenon.

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Germ Line Engineering the Perfect Baby

Scientists are developing ways to edit the DNA of tomorrow’s children. Should they stop before it’s too late? asks Antonio Regalado for MIT Technology Review:

If anyone had devised a way to create a genetically engineered baby, I figured George Church would know about it.

A smiling baby.jpg

Photo: Kenny Louie (CC)

 

At his labyrinthine laboratory on the Harvard Medical School campus, you can find researchers giving E. Coli a novel genetic code never seen in nature. Around another bend, others are carrying out a plan to use DNA engineering to resurrect the woolly mammoth. His lab, Church likes to say, is the center of a new technological genesis—one in which man rebuilds creation to suit himself.

When I visited the lab last June, Church proposed that I speak to a young postdoctoral scientist named Luhan Yang, a Harvard recruit from Beijing who’d been a key player in developing a new, powerful technology for editing DNA called CRISPR-Cas9.

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No More Top Billing for Violence, Tragedy, Dysfunction & Corruption

Ahmad Hammoud (CC BY 2.0)

Ahmad Hammoud (CC BY 2.0)

Or so says Arianna Huffington at Huffington Post:

There’s an old saying in the news business, one that’s guided editorial thinking for decades: “If it bleeds, it leads.” That is, stories of violence, tragedy, dysfunction and corruption get top billing — at the top of the hour, at the top of the computer or phone screen or above the newspaper fold — driven by the assumption that these are the stories the public will be most drawn to watch or read.

This ethos is wrong, both factually and ethically. And it’s lousy journalism. As journalists, our job is to give our audience an accurate picture — and that means the full picture — of what’s going on in the world. Just showing tragedy, violence, mayhem — focusing on what’s broken and what’s not working — misses too much of what is happening all around us.

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