Category Archives: In the News

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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Promotion for ethics group in the American Public Health Association


The Ethics Special Primary Interest Group (SPIG) of the American Public Health Association (APHA) is slated to become to an official section of the organization in July. While this may appear to be merely a structural change within an organization, the promotion of the ethics group of APHA has wider implications for the discipline.

“The transition from a SPIG to a formal Section will position public health ethics as a full participant at the multidisciplinary table,” explained Lisa Lee, Ph.D., M.S., chair of the Ethics SPIG and Executive Director of the President Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues.  “Our primary aim is to integrate ethical decision making into the fabric of public health practice so ethics is viewed as and becomes a facilitator of great work rather than an obstacle.”

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Womb transplantation: if it can be done, should it?

By: Elizabeth Yuko, Ph.D.

Nine women in Sweden have successfully received transplanted wombs donated from relatives, in what was the first large-scale experiment to determine whether this procedure could someday result in pregnancy. Was this experiment ethical, and if so, should it continue?

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For the Love of Animals: Fordham Professor Examines Christian Ethics and the Treatment of Animals in New Book


About 10 years ago, Charles Camosy decided to give up eating meat. Camosy, an assistant professor of Christian Ethics at Fordham University, believed that this change in diet was necessary in order to be authentically and consistently Christian and pro-life.

In his new book, For the Love of Animals: Christian Ethics, Consistent Action, Camosy makes the argument that Christian ethics and doctrine require the moral treatment of animals, and are therefore incompatible with the consumption of meat. Using history and scripture, Camosy discusses the roots of this Christian belief, before examining how these ideas translate into everyday life. He asks questions regarding whether Christians should eat meat, and what sort of medical research on animals can be justified, in addition to considering the ethics of pet ownership and hunting.

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NIH Grant Applications and the Government Shutdown: What You Need to Know

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has today issued a notice to the extramural grantee community regarding the lapse of federal government funding.

Depending on the length of the funding lapse, once NIH non-excepted staff are authorized to resume operations, it will take time for full operations to be resumed. In other words: prepare to wait.

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A Lesson From JPMorgan Chase on Accountability, Fear and the Trustworthy Organization

By: Robert Hurley, Ph.D.

Sometimes performance-driven organizations, with their intense focus on accountability, can be breeding grounds for fear and other problems. JP Morgan Chase is about to pay an 800 million dollar fine to settle a variety of violations with the big one being the London Whale fiasco where employees at the company were found to have deliberately hidden losses from senior management, regulators and the markets. The trust violation here is that JP Morgan Chase engaged in high-risk trading to increase profits, called it hedging and, when the bets went bad, they failed to report this material information in a timely manner to regulators and investors.

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Can a racist grandfather raise a biracial child? ‘The Root’ asks Dr. Celia B. Fisher to weigh in

Can a racist grandfather raise a biracial child?

A reader of The Root — a website that bills itself as a source for “Black News, Opinion, Politics and Culture” — wrote in seeking advice on what to do about his father, who, along with his mother, is raising his biracial niece. While he notes that his father is a great father and grandfather, he also tends to make racist comments around his niece, which he believes she is picking up on.

Fordham University Center for Ethics Education Director Dr. Celia B. Fisher was quoted in the article, saying that negative racial stereotypes cause harm through “micro aggressions.” Fisher defines micro aggressions as “the everyday racially insulting and demeaning language and actions that white people may not be aware they are inflicting.” She is concerned that this will lead to feelings of anxiety, low self-esteem and a sense of personal inferiority that will affect the writer’s niece in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.

To read the rest of the article, please click here.

To read a piece by CNN on the adoption of African American children by families in the Netherlands, please click here.

HIV Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute Fellow Publishes Study on HIV Testing and Facebook

Dr. Sean D. Young, a 2013 Fordham University Research Ethics Training Institute Fellow

While Facebook may be used primarily to reconnect with old friends and share vacation photos, a recent study suggests that it  may also be an important tool in HIV prevention.

A new study by Fordham University HIV Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute Fellow Dr. Sean D. Young of UCLA found that using social media and online communities not only leads to increased HIV testing and encourages significant behavior change among high risk groups, but also turns out to be one of the best HIV-prevention and testing approaches on the Internet.

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Fordham University Research Ethics Training Institute Faculty Member Discusses the Ethics of HIV Cure Research

Recently, Dr. Jeremy Sugarman, Fordham University HIV Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute faculty member, discussed the ethics of HIV cure research in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

In an article published on August 13, 2013, Dr. Sugarman, Professor of Bioethics at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, contends that as HIV cure research progresses, ethical implications must be taken into consideration in order to protect the rights, interests, and welfare of all research participants involved.

Please click here for the full article.

Advance Directives for Research Involving Adults with Advancing Dementia

By Celia B. Fisher, Ph.D.

As advance directives for health care have become increasingly accepted in society, some have suggested that similar directives by those with advancing cognitive impairment can enhance substitute decision-making for research participation once an individual’s mental capacity has been compromised.

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From Patmos to Eloy, AZ: John of Patmos, Exile and the Dream 9

By Jeremy V. Cruz

The Dream 9, photo w/ permission by Steve Pavey, Ph.D., One Horizon Foundation

The Dream 9, photo w/ permission by Steve Pavey, Ph.D., One Horizon Foundation

As a scholar-practitioner, I offer this brief reflection with two aims.  First, I invite your participation in the work of survival and liberation currently germinating from within the walls of the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona.  Second, I encourage deeper scholarly reflection on how one migrant detainee’s theological reflection relates to the postcolonial/anti-imperial analysis of a Chicano biblical scholar—Dr. David Sánchez.

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Changes in HIPAA rule increases penalties for ‘business associates’ but purports to make it easier for researchers to obtain children’s health information

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has modified the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) rules to address breaches by business associates, reported to reduce research burdens by making it easier for parents and others to give permission to share proof of a child’s immunization with a school.
Will this new ruling reduce or add to burdens of conducting research designed to help children that involves the coordination of large data sets across health, educational and service settings?
For additional information visit the HHS website.  

Will Proposed Changes to Federal Regulations Impact Barriers to Research Involving Children and Adolescents?

For the first time in twenty years, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is considering changes to a portion of federal regulations governing research known as the “Common Rule” (45 CFR 46, 2009; Subpart A). At present, the proposed changes are not sufficiently sensitive to the potential impact on research involving infants, children and adolescents.

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Shifting Sands: Absolutism to Relativism in Irish Medical Ethics

By Adam McAuley, Ph.D.

On Thursday, June 13th, the Irish government published its Abortion Bill to regulate the extremely limited circumstances under which an abortion is lawful in Ireland. The Bill’s conscientious objection provision reflects the limited development of ethical thought, debate and education in Ireland.

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Louisiana Incarcerated: How We Built the World’s Prison Capital

Louisiana is the world’s prison capital.

As Cindy Chang pointed out during our Jailing for Dollars conference, and wrote in The Times-Picayune: “The state imprisons more of its people, per head, than any of its U.S. counterparts. First among Americans means first in the world. Louisiana’s incarceration rate is nearly five times Iran’s, 13 times China’s and 20 times Germany’s.”

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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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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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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