Category Archives: Contemporary Ethical Issues

Compassion Across Borders: International Disparities in the Vocation of Healthcare Providers

The following essay was the first-prize winner of the Fordham University Center for Ethics Education’s 2014 Dr. Kuo York and M. Noelle Chynn Undergraduate Prize in Ethics, an essay competition to stimulate self-examination about concepts of ethics and morality encountered personally or as a concerned member of society. The Chynn Prize is funded by the Chynn Family Foundation. 

By: Michael Menconi

Patient names have been changed to ensure confidentiality and protect privacy.

A bed in the hospital in Colombia. Photo by Michael Menconi

A bed in the hospital in Colombia. Photo by Michael Menconi

Healthcare professionals often refer to their careers in medicine as a life purpose—their “calling” is to treat the sick, mend the injured, comfort the vulnerable, and instill courage in those who have lost all hope. Doctors have a moral, ethical, and professional obligation—or perhaps duty—to do no harm and perform acts of healing, both of which were fundamental virtues established by the Hippocratic Oath over five centuries ago. For a field with such an extensive, prolific history of emphasizing compassion and care for those in need, it is expected (and often assumed) that healthcare providers treat every patient with a fundamental respect for the human condition, unwavering empathy, and superior levels of social and cultural competency.

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Was it ethical for the American missionaries to be treated for Ebola ahead of Liberians? Dr. Celia B. Fisher weighs in

Players of the ”L’Etoile de Guinee” football team poses with a sign reading ”Stop to the ebola epidemic” prior to a football tournament gathering youth from Guinea near the Koumassi sports center in Abidjan on August 10, 2014. West Africa was counting the cost of measures to contain the deadly Ebola epidemic on August 10, as unprecedented restrictions caused snarled transport, food shortages and soaring prices.  Photo credit: SIA KAMBOU/AFP/Getty Images

As the world comes to terms with the recent Ebola outbreak, several ethical questions have arisen, many of which relate to the distributions of Ebola vaccines, and who should be given priority.

Was it ethical for the two American missionaries to receive treatment for Ebola ahead of the local Liberian population?

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Dr. Anthony Fauci discusses the HIV rebound in the Mississippi baby and importance of HIV research ethics

Photo via dem10/iStockphoto.com

Photo via dem10/iStockphoto.com

The Friday, July 11th episode of the PBS News Hour featured a presentation on the young child from Mississippi who had been treated with early and unusually aggressive drug treatment after birth and then was seemingly virus-free for two years.

However, official just announced that the girl, now almost 4 years old, tested positive for HIV during a follow-up appointment last week. When asked about the trial that was to begin, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases emphasized the need to be ethical in the design of the study.

Please visit the PBS News Hour website for a video and full transcript of the program.

Issues of Research Ethics in the Facebook ‘Mood Manipulation’ Study: The Importance of Multiple Perspectives

 

By: Michelle Broaddus, Ph.D.

A new study using Facebook data to study “emotional contagion,” and the ensuing backlash of its publication offers the opportunity to examine several ethical principles in research. One of the pillars of ethically conducted research is balancing the risks to the individual participants against the potential benefits to society or scientific knowledge. While the study’s effects were quite small, the authors argue that “given the massive scale of social networks such as Facebook, even small effects can have large aggregated consequences.” However, participants were not allowed to give informed consent, which constitutes a risk of the research and the major source of the backlash.

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Issues of Research Ethics in the Facebook ‘Mood Manipulation’ Study: The Importance of Multiple Perspectives (full text)

 

By: Michelle Broaddus, Ph.D.

A recent paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences describes a mood manipulation experiment conducted by Facebook scientists during one week in 2012 that suggests evidence of “emotional contagion,” or the spread of positive and negative affect between people. The backlash to this publication has been significant. As two examples, Slate.com published a piece entitled “Facebook’s Unethical Experiment: It intentionally manipulated users’ emotions without their knowledge” and The Atlantic’s piece, “Even the Editor of Facebook’s Mood Study Thought It Was Creepy.”

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Center for Ethics Education Hosts Conference on the Value of Liberal Arts Education

The panel addresses the value of liberal arts education.

The panel addresses the value of liberal arts education. Photo by Bruce Gilbert

What is the value of a liberal arts education, and what place does it have in America’s future? An interdisciplinary conference sponsored by the Fordham University Center for Ethics Education on April 28 addressed these issues, and featured presentations from several leading liberal arts scholars, including Acting Under Secretary of Education, Jamienne Studley.

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Humanitarian intervention: what are the ethical challenges facing aid workers, and how should they be addressed?

Dr. Ramin Asgary, M.D., M.P.H.

Ramin Asgary, M.D., M.P.H.

By: Elizabeth Yuko, Ph.D. Recent natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti, and the tsunami in Southeast Asia and the Arab Spring resulted in an increase in short-term medical volunteerism. This type of medical practice raises many ethical issues for both the medical practitioners and their institutions. Dr. Ramin Asgary, Assistant Professor in New York University’s Department of Medicine, has experienced these ethical issues from two perspectives: as a physician working abroad in humanitarian settings, and as an academic examining the ethics of short-term medical volunteerism, and aid workers in general. Continue reading