Monthly Archives: May 2013

Ethics and Society Newsfeed: May 30th 2013

Go-Ahead to Develop Synthetic Blood in Scotland
Researchers have been given a licence to use stem cells to manufacture blood that could eventually be tested on people.

Female and Transgender Sex Workers in Mumbai Face Barriers to Sexual Health Services
Female and transgender sex workers face limited access to healthcare, social discrimination, uncertain income and police harassment.

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Ethics and Society Newsfeed: May 29th 2013

Three-Parent Embryos: Mitochondrial Transfer IVF is Worth Pursuing 
Even though it is technically possible to create an embryo using the genetic material of three parents, is it ethically desirable?

The Abortion Issue Returns
With the Supreme Court hearing cases on various contentious issues, they are likely to return to one of their most enduring controversies: abortion.
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Unrepresentative: How the NRA and Planned Parenthood Failed Recent Tests

By Michael Peppard

The donor rolls of the National Rifle Association and Planned Parenthood do not share many of the same names. But these organizations’ responses to the events of recent months—especially the Sandy Hook shooting and the trial of Kermit Gosnell—have demonstrated that they do share a troubling characteristic. Both reject reasonable limitations on the particular liberty for which they advocate. In so doing, they disregard the well-regulated liberties that vast majorities of our country desire.

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Ethics and Society Newsfeed: May 28th 2013

An Insider’s Guide to 3D Printing
Confused about the 3D printing phenomenon? This new technology has plenty of hype, but is it the future of manufacturing and biotechnology?

Link to Ethical Scandal Tarnishes Prestigious Award
Former Surgeon General Dr. Thomas Parran Jr. (1936-1948) was ahead of his time, but he was also complicit in two of the most egregious medical scandals of the 20th century. What does this mean for the prestigious Parran Award? 
What are scientists to do when they name their most prestigious award for an icon linked years later to unethical research?  

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Getting Clear on Rights and Rules: The Intersection of Law and Philosophy

Michael Baur is a philosopher-lawyer who uses his double expertise to study social ontology.   Photo by Bruce Gilbert

Michael Baur is a philosopher-lawyer who uses his double expertise to study social ontology.
Photo by Bruce Gilbert

By Joanna Klimaski

If a tree falls on you in the woods and nobody sees it, have you been wronged?

You might have been harmed, but you would probably not accuse the tree of violating your human rights by falling over and crushing you. Unless, that is, you believe that rights are non-relational—then you might have some trouble getting the tree off the hook.

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Meat-eating and Global Warming

By: Michael Baur

In a 2009 article in the New York Daily News, Princeton philosopher and animal rights advocate Peter Singer proposed that we begin imposing a heavy new tax on the sale of meat.

One justification for such a tax, he argued, was that it would help to reduce meat-consumption and thereby help to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.  As Singer rightly pointed out, a 2006 study by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization showed that livestock are responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than all forms of transportation combined.  More specifically, the study showed that worldwide livestock farming causes about 18% of human-generated greenhouse gas emissions, while only about 13% of human-generated greenhouse gas emissions were caused by all forms of transportion combined (see this BBC news article for more on this).

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International Group of Scientists Led by Fordham Professor Responds to UN Call on Human Rights of Older Individuals

International Group of Scientists Led by Fordham Professor Daniela Jopp Respond to Call by United Nations to Create Human Rights Legislation to Protect Older Individuals

Professor Daniela Jopp

Professor Daniela Jopp

Prof. Daniela Jopp has taken the lead to respond to the call for non-governmental organization input from the United Nation’s working group on ageing, issued by the Division for Social Policy and Development. A total of 20 internationally renowned scientists with research programs focused on very old individuals –centenarians in particular – have contributed to the letter sent to Social Affairs Officer Robert Venne, and supported its submission.

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‘Jailing for Dollars’ event discusses ethical issues surrounding the privatization of American prisons


From left, Cindy Chang, John Pfaff, Michael Jacobson, Thomas Giovanni, and Judith Greene.
Photo by Bruce Gilbert

Over the past 30 years, the United States has become the world’s leader in incarceration with 2.2 million people currently in the nation’s prisons or jails.

On April 23, a panel of experts discussed the ethical issues surrounding the privatization of American prisons at a conference entitled “Jailing for Dollars: The Moral Costs of Privatizing Justice”  sponsored by the Center for Ethics Education.

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Are Psychologists Violating their Ethics Code by Conducting Death Penalty Evaluations for Defendants with Mental Disabilities?

By: Celia B. Fisher, Ph.D.

Imagine you are a forensic psychologist asked during the sentencing phase of a capital punishment case to assess the mental status of a homeless, African American defendant convicted of murder.  Your evaluation report states that the defendant has an IQ and adaptive living score bordering on a diagnosis of intellectual disability, but the absence of educational and health records from childhood prevents you from definitively stating he fits the Supreme Court’s definition of “mental retardation” which would preclude the jury from recommending the death penalty.  Subsequently the defendant is sentenced for execution.

Would you be surprised to learn that your report may have placed you in violation of the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Code of Ethics that prohibits psychological activities that justify or defend violating human rights? Continue reading

Welcome to the 2013 HIV Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute Fellows

The Fordham HIV Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute is pleased to announce that the following individuals have been selected as the 2013 fellows: Dr. Stella Njuguna (Kenya Medical Research Institute of the University of California Berkeley), Dr. Nicole Overstreet (Yale University), Dr. Alexis Roth (University of California San Diego), Dr. Darpun Sachdev (HIV Vaccine Fellow, San Francisco Department of Public Health), Dr. Andrew Spieldenner (Hofstra University), and Dr. Sean Young (University of California Los Angeles). Continue reading

Bringing ethics to the foreground

There are ethical dimensions to all aspects of society: research, medicine, politics, business, science and technology, the environment, and responses to natural disasters, among others. The purpose of this blog is to highlight and analyze various topical issues relating to ethics and society, with a view to promoting social justice and equality. Continue reading