Tag Archives | Ethics

Vatican Calls for ‘Central World Bank’

Emblem of Vatican CityPhilip Pullella reports in Reuters:

The Vatican called on Monday for the establishment of a “global public authority” and a “central world bank” to rule over financial institutions that have become outdated and often ineffective in dealing fairly with crises. The document from the Vatican’s Justice and Peace department should please the “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrators and similar movements around the world who have protested against the economic downturn.

“Towards Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of a Global Public Authority,” was at times very specific, calling, for example, for taxation measures on financial transactions. “The economic and financial crisis which the world is going through calls everyone, individuals and peoples, to examine in depth the principles and the cultural and moral values at the basis of social coexistence,” it said.

It condemned what it called “the idolatry of the market” as well as a “neo-liberal thinking” that it said looked exclusively at technical solutions to economic problems.

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A Capitalist Against Corporate Greed

Lower ManhattanCritics of the Occupy Wall Street movement often point to activists’ use of iPhones and laptops in their fight against corporate greed and control of America. As Natalie W of Capricious Yet Constant points out, we sometimes must use the tools of the system to dismantle it. We recognize the irony of biting the hand that feeds, but the lifestyle choices anyone makes do not diminish their involvement in the movement, or the movement itself:

I own an Apple iPhone.

I have a MacBook that I take everywhere with me.

I drink Starbucks when my body needs a caffeine fix.

I eat McDonald’s but prefer Corner Bakery when I’m hungry and away from home.

I smoke Camel cigarettes.

I am a proud member of Occupy Chicago. I am protesting in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street and the 1000-plus occupied cities in the US for economic equality for all people, for an elimination of corporate influence over government regulation, and against corporate greed.… Read the rest

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Spanish Blood Test Can Tell When You’ll Die. Maybe.

Three-dimensional molecular structure of a telomere (G-quadruplex). Credit: Giac83 (CC)

Three-dimensional molecular structure of a telomere (G-quadruplex). Credit: Giac83 (CC)

But do you really want to know? Giles Tremlett reports on the small Spanish biological research company at the center of claims that its blood test can predict the age you will die, for the Guardian:

As a taxi takes me across Madrid to the laboratories of Spain’s National Cancer Research Centre, I am fretting about the future. I am one of the first people in the world to provide a blood sample for a new test, which has been variously described as a predictor of how long I will live, a waste of time or a handy indicator of how well (or badly) my body is ageing. Today I get the results.

Some newspapers, to the dismay of the scientists involved, have gleefully announced that the test – which measures the telomeres (the protective caps on the ends of my chromosomes) – can predict when I will die.

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Has Neuroscience Disproven Evil?

GreyMatterVia Modern Mythology:

In “Is Myth Dead?” in The Immanence of Myth, I talked about some of the misconceptions that exist between what falls under the purview of science, and what belongs instead to myth, or as it is more commonly known, narrative. And it is a direct result of misconceptions discussed there that we see a constant glut of so-called “science” articles making claims such as “neuro scientists say that evil no longer exists,” (Slate article) or “neuroscience versus philosophy, taking aim at free well.” (Nature.com article). Let me use these two articles as an example of what is actually an epidemic issue that needs immediate and complete overhaul.

The Slate article is considerably more egregious than the latter, as it presents a singular interpretation as the only possible answer to a very complicated question that has challenged the best humans minds throughout our sordid history.… Read the rest

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The Mythology of Business Part 2: The Dark Side

MythThis is Part 2 of an excerpted series for Reality Sandwich from the anthology The Immanence of Myth published by Weaponized. Read Part 1 here.

Despite the exciting creative possibilities posed by new media in regard to myth, they do not come without a price. The danger presented by the presence of myth in modern media is paramount, and must be considered outside the mythic framework of industry, for instance, which reduces the material world to a matrix of profit and risk.

Though the propaganda of fascist mythologies such as those of Nazis or the USSR serve as the clearest example of these dangers, they exist in only slightly more subtle forms in the media produced by modern capitalist states. (Subtlety in this case not being an indicator of benevolence, necessarily.) After all, it was Mussolini who declared fascism to be the merger of state and corporate power.

Though media is ostensibly the watchdog of the government, both the government and media agencies of the capitalist state are beholden to international corporations and their interests.… Read the rest

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So Who Really Runs The World? A Network Analysis Reveals ‘Super Entity’ of Global Corporate Control …

Who Runs The World?An outline of the adversary emerges from Michael Ricciardi on PlanetSave:

In the first such analysis ever conducted, Swiss economic researchers have conducted a global network analysis of the most powerful transnational corporations (TNCs). Their results have revealed a core of 787 firms with control of 80% of this network, and a “super entity” comprised of 147 corporations that have a controlling interest in 40% of the network’s TNCs.

When we hear conspiracy theorist talk about this or that powerful group (or alliance of said groups) “pulling strings” behind the scenes, we tend to dismiss or minimize such claims, even though, deep down, we may suspect that there’s some degree of truth to it, however distorted by the theorists’ slightly paranoid perception of the world. But perhaps our tendency to dismiss such claims as exaggerations (at best) comes from our inability to get even a slight grip on the complexity of global corporate ownership; it’s all too vast and complicated to get any clear sense of the reality.

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Economic Inequality Promotes Self-Aggrandizement

Richa and Poor

Rich and poor in São Paulo. Photo: Tuca Vieira (CC)

Via ScienceDaily:

Pretty much everybody thinks they’re better than average. But in some cultures, people are more self-aggrandizing than in others. Until now, national differences in “self-enhancement” have been chalked up to an East-West individualism-versus-collectivism divide. In the West, where people value independence, personal success, and uniqueness, psychologists have said, self-inflation is more rampant. In the East, where interdependence, harmony, and belonging are valued, modesty prevails.Now an analysis of data gathered from 1,625 people in 15 culturally diverse countries finds a stronger predictor of self-enhancement: economic inequality.

“We don’t know the precise mechanism, but it seems unlikely that it is primarily an East-West difference,” says University of Kent research associate Steve Loughnan. “It’s got to do with how your society distributes its resources.” The study — whose 19 collaborators represent 16 universities around the globe — will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

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U.S. Reviews Syphilis Experiment In Guatemala: Researchers Knew It Was Unethical

Tuskeegee_studyAll too often groups of people are unknowingly infected with disease as a means of isolated experimentation. Earlier this week the Commision for the Study of Bioethical Issues reviewed the 1940s incident  where the U.S. government infected Guatemalan prisoners and patients with syphilis. Via Reuters:

U.S. government researchers must have known they were violating ethical standards by deliberately infecting Guatemalan prison inmates and mental patients with syphilis for an experiment in the 1940s, according to a U.S. presidential commission.

The U.S.-funded research in Guatemala did not treat participants as human beings, failing to even inform them they were taking part in research, as was the case for a similar study in the United States, the commission said on Monday.

The United States apologized last year for the experiment, which was meant to test the drug penicillin, after it was uncovered decades later by a college professor.

President Barack Obama’s Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues investigated the syphilis experiment and discussed its key findings in Washington on Monday.

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Mythology of Business Part 1: The Veil of Ignorance

shell.jpgThis is part 1 of an excerpted series for Reality Sandwich from the anthology The Immanence of Myth published by Weaponized.

Myth’s central importance does not end with our art or religions. It is not solely a dusty world of broken clay pots and tablets written in dead languages. Our myths determine how we engage with the world, how we enter into it. How we treat ourselves and one another. Far from being archaic relics of the past, myths will determine our future. Even if we are unaware of them, they will continue to affect us.

The advertising used to disseminate films, books and music shows the profound value that mythology has within modern markets. You just need to know what you’re looking for. However, it does not end with the entertainment industry. A brand, any brand in an increasingly interactive media environment, is myth.

This role is made all the more pervasive thanks to the proliferation of instantaneous and virtually limitless communication mediums.… Read the rest

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