Tag Archives | Ethics

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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The Resurrection of the Wooly Mammoth

Woolly mammothYou’d think anyone who had watched Jurassic Park would know that this is likely to be a very bad idea, but regardless the scientist who cloned Dolly the Sheep is plotting to use the DNA of the Wooly Mammoth to clone the ancient beast, reports the Guardian:

The pioneering scientist who created Dolly the sheep has outlined how cells plucked from frozen woolly mammoth carcasses might one day help resurrect the ancient beasts.

The notional procedure – bringing with it echoes of the Jurassic Park films – was spelled out by Sir Ian Wilmut, the Edinburgh-based stem-cell scientist, whose team unveiled Dolly as the world’s first cloned mammal in 1996.

Though it is unlikely that a mammoth could be cloned in the same way as Dolly, more modern techniques that convert tissue cells into stem cells could potentially achieve the feat, Wilmut says in an article today for the academic journalism website, The Conversation.

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Deception Services: Company Offers To Create And Maintain Webs Of Lies

deception servicesThis model seems, ironically, like a more direct and honest version of what many businesses already do. As described by the St. Paul Pioneer Press:

Tim Green will tell anyone anything, for a fee. As the founder of Paladin Deception Services, he will say what clients want him to say to anyone calling on his dedicated phone lines. He provides cover for cheating husbands, fake references for job-seekers and even “doctors” to confirm that someone needs a sick day.

Since he started Paladin in 2009, he has had about 250 clients on a ongoing basis. When potential clients call, Green connects them with one of his five employees. He picks the one best-suited for the job — male, female, or someone fluent in Spanish or Chinese. One employee is known for his ability to speak with a British accent or a Southern drawl. Paladin provides a phone number with any area code in the country.

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Study Suggests Thinking About Money Causes Immoral Behavior

thinking about moneyEven thinking about money causes immoral behavior? A reminder to keep your thoughts clean via MarketWatch:

People are more likely to lie or make immoral decisions after being exposed to money-related words, according to researchers from Harvard and the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business who published a report last month.

The findings show that “even if we are well intentioned, even if we think we know right from wrong, there may be factors influencing our decisions and behaviors that we’re not aware of.”

The study asked college students studying business to make sentences out of various word clusters before answering questions and playing several games. Some of the phrases contained a financial focus such as “She spends money liberally,” and others that were neutral, such as “She walked on grass.” Researchers found that people who were exposed to the financial phrases lied more often in subsequent activities.

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Sex After Dementia

via Marina Kamenev The Atlantic  tree-97986_640

Desire for physical intimacy doesn’t disappear when Alzheimer’s sets in. Supporting that aspect of a patient’s wellbeing raises a host of ethical questions.

Earlier this year, a sex worker in Sydney, Australia — I’ll call her Emma — got a call from a woman whose 93-year-old father was confined to a nursing home with dementia.

“You could tell in her voice that she was really nervous. But you could also tell that she knew what she wanted for her dad,” Emma said. He missed the intimacy of sex.

Emma works a day job in elderly care, but she has also been a sex worker specializing in working with people with disabilities, including dementia, for 30 years.

This nursing home resident had been an “openly sexual” person in his later life and had now asked his daughter to find him a woman. The nursing home staff was supportive, welcoming Emma into the facility and assisting her to move the elderly man into a comfortable position.

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Can Scientific Belief Make People More Moral?

science moralsIs science ethically neutral, or can it supplant religion in providing a moral compass? PLOS ONE on a series of studies finding that exposure to science (either in one’s personal background or merely by being asked to think about science momentarily) made college students more likely to divide up money fairly, more likely to express interest in positive behaviors such as volunteering and donating blood, and more likely to strongly condemn a date rapist in a hypothetical story:

No studies to date [had] directly investigated the links between exposure to science and moral or prosocial behaviors.

Across four studies, both naturalistic measures of science exposure and experimental primes of science led to increased adherence to moral norms and more morally normative behaviors across domains.

Thinking about science leads individuals to endorse more stringent moral norms and exhibit more morally normative behavior. These studies are the first of their kind to systematically and empirically test the relationship between science and morality.

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