Ethics & Society Newsfeed: February 17, 2017

Image via 


Trump Ethics Monitor: Has The President Kept His Promises?
To track Trump’s ethics-related promises, NPR checked debate transcripts, campaign speeches and press conferences

Trump’s South Florida estate raises ethics questions
Ethics questions and possible conflicts surrounding President Donald Trump’s frequent trips to his sprawling Mar-a-Lago property, especially in regards to the invitation of Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, over the weekend; a trip Trump pledged to pay for.

Should Jeff Sessions Recuse Himself From the Russia Inquiries?
Bruce Green, director of the Louis Stein Center for Law and Ethics at Fordham University, comments on whether Attorney General, Jeff Sessions should recuse himself from investigations involving former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn and Russian hacking.

Trickle-Down Ethics at the Trump White House
Federal ethics guidelines forbid White House officials from using public position and power for their own private gain or to promote the private business interests of others. Trump Administration actions to be reviewed by the White House counsel and by the Office of Government Ethics.

Government Watchdog Presses Jason Chaffetz To Investigate Kellyanne Conway Himself
Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, requested that The Office of Government Ethics (OGE) investigate Kellyanne Conway’s possible breach of federal ethics rules, indicating that the Chairman may be trying to take pressure off his own committee, which has the most authority to investigate the matter.

Ethics Watchdog Denounces Conway’s Endorsement of Ivanka Trump Products
Federal government’s chief ethics watchdog calls for White House adviser, Kellyanne Conway, to be disciplined after publically endorsing Ivanka Trump’s product line.

Bioethics/Medical Ethics

Scientists ponder future of gene editing to fight disease
Ethical issues surrounding breakthroughs gene editing to fight genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, and cancer.

When doctors kill: Stent scam and decline of Pakistan’s bioethics
Latest scandal amongst Pakistan’s medical community, who receive no ethics training in medical school, involving faulty cardiac stents.

Cancer drugs price rise ‘costing NHS millions’
Possible reasons for why prices for cancer drugs have risen sharply, and notes the steps European countries are taking to make sure costs decrease.

Avoiding the slippery slope of unethical behavior
Sporting an orange prison jumpsuit and handcuffs, Chuck Gallagher declared, “Every choice has a consequence.” He later ditched the get-up as he gave his speech on ethics, but the former convicted felon—now a business ethics speaker—intended to drive home a point. His message boiled down to this: People cheat when they have a chance, but when issues of honesty versus rationalization are openly discussed, people dramatically reduce or stop cheating.


Market Milking and Research Troubles
“People mostly think that Wall Street banks are evil, and so this conflict of interest is often described as something nefarious that the banks do: They inflate their ratings, giving Buys to companies that are really Sells, in order to win investment banking business. This, I think, is mostly not true, though it used to be, and though there are other considerations that do lead banks to give lots of companies Buy ratings. But the conflict obviously exists.”

A New Robo-Adviser Lets You Build Portfolios That Shun Guns and Oil Shares
Startup OpenInvest aims to build portfolios tailored to its customers’ values.
“Users click through a series of menus to create an “issue profile,” checking boxes to select investment themes—such as gender equality or reduced carbon emissions—as well as groups of companies to exclude. …Former hedge funders are bringing social responsibility to online investment advising, with some added cost and complexity.”


Ethics can make winners, Sheikh Saif bin Zayed says
At the World Government Summit, February 12-14, Sheikh Saif bin Zayed “praised the countries that prioritize ethics and integrate it into their everyday lives, adding that Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, sent a team to countries such as Japan and Canada which teach ethics as part of their education system.”


The moral dilemmas of the Fourth Industrial Revolution
Call for a global code of ethics in order to cope with the technological era we now live in, which is being called the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Technical Challenges in Machine Ethics
Machine ethics offers an alternative solution for artificial intelligence (AI) safety governance. In order to mitigate risks in human-robot interactions, robots will have to comply with humanity’s ethical and legal norms, once they’ve merged into our daily life with highly autonomous capability. In terms of technical challenges, there are still many open questions in machine ethics.

Environmental Ethics

Physicians’ Duty to Be Aware of and Report Environmental Toxins
Commentary by Gina M. Solomon, MD, MPH, and Steven R. Kirkhorn, MD, MPH in American Medical Association (AMA) Journal of Ethics

Ireland votes to divest public money from fossil fuels
At the end of January Ireland voted to divest public monies from fossil fuels, and this article cites ethics as the driving force behind the decision.

Animal Ethics

The secret trade in baby chimps
After a lengthy investigation, BBC exposes an elaborate chimpanzee smuggling operation.  Chimpanzees are an endangered species, and the sting operation tackles many ethical quandaries including treatment of animals and violating international law.

Stoking the Flames of Competitiveness on an Overheating Planet

Image via


By: Michael Aprea

This essay is in response to the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs video “Climate Protectionism and Competitiveness.”  

Steam put the world in motion. It lit up the night, and tightened humanity’s grasp on the forces of nature. Nature, however, has eluded the human race and has forced civilization to reconsider its power in the most fundamental sense. Scientist, politicians, and citizens now face the heat as they scramble to address a cycle of global warming spawned by the progress of the industrial revolution that threatens to unhinge the fragile balance of Earth’s ecosystems. Reducing carbon emissions has been the answer to the problem. This standard that has taken hold in developed nations has morphed into a global economic crusade against carbon emissions through regulation, taxation and sanctions seeking to curb the emissions of the developing world. Although consumer responsibility and global collaboration in an endeavor to reverse global warming trends are laudable, it is important to recognize the risks these steps pose on global trade, the citizens of developing countries, and the debt developed nations have as beneficiaries of the first fruits of fossil fuels.

The United States owes its status as an economic superpower to the progress of the industrial revolution; a revolution fueled by carbon emitting fossil fuels. The rapid growth of nations such as Unites States reliant on fossil fuels came at price–rising global temperatures. Carbon doesn’t only heat up cold economies, it also has the ability to raise average global temperatures as it gets trapped in the atmosphere and captures solar radiation. These shifts in temperature have precipitated evident changes in the environment. Recent glacial melting, super storms, and inflated and more rapid extinction rates can all be traced to these rising temperatures. In response, the United States and other developed nations have sought alternative fuels to reduce carbon emissions. These measures entail large investments of capital, and higher costs of production–a reality that makes production in underdeveloped nations more cost effective and foreign products cheaper. This reality, coupled with policies and regulations that seek to reduce carbon emissions through taxation and sanctions on developing nations still very dependent on fossil fuels, raises a host of ethical questions–particularly regarding the right and motive a developed nation has in enforcing such measures.

Competitive advantage, and how it has been gained, is clearly a reality that must be assessed when addressing the justice behind taxation and regulation imposed on developing economies. Developing nations lack the capital to invest in clean technology–capital developed nations have as a result of their prosperity, which was only made possible by carbon emitting fossil fuels. It may seem reasonable to tax and regulate nations seeking to create strong economies through the competitive advantages they may possess, but to simply apply these based on a green energy movement fails to address the heart of the problem, and may embroil admirable causes such as conservation and sustainability in an actual trade war. The United States in particular has benefited the most over the last one hundred fifty years as number one in cumulative carbon emissions (Romm). This lead has given America the title of super power–a super power now capable of retrofitting the engines of its industry to comply with carbon emissions regulations. The world has paid the price for the developed world’s prosperity, and taxation only continues to impose costs. Such a reality begs the question as to how such policy simply continues to suppress the developing world, and exactly how much this policy is geared toward that specific goal given the recent nationalist rhetoric.

Addressing the matter of climate change and carbon emissions must include the realization that the United States and other developed nations have a moral duty to ensure the common good of all while enforcing pollution regulation, especially in cases where nations and people are at the brink of absolute poverty. These people continue to pay the price of the pollution emitted by developed countries over the last century through the climate change and ecological meltdowns unfolding today. These people should not be burdened with the weight of economic stagnation and recession at the hands of policies that shroud efforts to manipulate trade and productivity in the vail of social responsibility. Developed nations must address the real problem of climate change and the need to curb global carbon emission in light of the duty they have to those nations that may be totally shunned in a “green” world.

The responsibility the developed world bears in the wake of this environmental, social, and economic awakening must go beyond simply curbing emissions if any efforts can be hailed as just and in the interest of the common good. These efforts in the short term may be harmful to developed nations, but must stem from a fervent realization that economic power was purchased at a cost the world is bearing, a cost which has disproportionality impact the poor, a cost which must be balanced. Omission, or the reduction of carbon emissions by the developed nations, will in no manner attest to the solidarity this problem calls for. Emissions quotas may curb the global warming trend, but they are no clear path toward a future in which humanity recognizes the fact that this blue green rock floating through space is a common home. Capital investment from the developed nations in the economies of the developing world geared towards bolstering efforts toward green technology and industry is truly the only path that will avoid the maleficence of taxation and regulation. In this short term, this path may cost the developed nations, but in this manner, the economies of both nations can grow in the long term, and a true interest in the socio-economic well-being of all people can be made manifest.

Michael Aprea is completing his M.A. in Ethics & Society at Fordham University.

Romm, Joseph. “U.S. Responsible for 29 Percent of CO2 Emissions over past 150 Years, Triple China’s Share.” Grist. N.p., 2009. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.

Ethics & Society Newsfeed: February 3, 2017


Image via


Betsy DeVos’s ethics review raises further questions for Democrats and watchdogs
Betsy DeVos, Trump’s nominee to lead the Education Department, promised to divest from more than 100 entities to avoid potential conflicts of interest with her new job. Questions left unanswered.

Donald Trump warned over ‘unprecedented’ plan to appoint cabinet without ethics office checks, emails reveal
Disclosed emails from the head of the ethics office warn President aides staffing a cabinet with robust oversight is a ‘tradition evolved as a result of hard lessons’

South Dakota Governor Signs Measure Reversing Voter Ethics
Governor of South Dakota signed a bill Thursday overturning an anti-corruption measure passed by a majority of voters in November, to the consternation of government watchdog groups.

Trump And His Organization Lawyer Up For The Ethics War Ahead
President Trump and the Trump Organization are beefing up their legal teams against an expected surge of conflict-of-interest allegations.

Teaching Ethics In The Trump Era
Graduate-level professor asks how to tell students ethics is important when “nothing around them feels ethical” re: Trump administration and conflicts of interest.


Human-pig hybrids might be unsettling. But they could save lives.
A new study out of California unsettled a lot of people last week after revealing that scientists had, for the first time, made part-human, part-pig embryos — referred to as “chimeras.” Raises ethical questions.

Could changing the way doctors are paid help narrow health disparities?
A study suggests that changing the way doctors and hospitals are paid could narrow some of the health disparities between poorer and wealthier patients.

Trump’s Supreme Court Pick Could Shape Bioethics for Generations
Neil Gorsuch, nominee for the US Supreme Court, has spent his career weighing matters of life and death. His views on life—that it is sacred and “intrinsically valuable”—are likely to shape court decisions in areas from abortion to assisted suicide for decades to come.

The Truth About How Parents Like Chrissy Teigen Can “Pick” The Sex Of A Child
Celebrity sparks discussion on picking sex of a child using IVF technologies.

Why Tom Price’s Biotech Stock Has Medical Ethicists Worried

Trump’s nominee for health and human services secretary, Tom Price (R-Ga) questioned over conflict of interest in his trading in health care company stock which may violate “congressional ethics regulations.”

Doctors prescribed me pain meds but couldn’t help me get off them
Should physicians be required to assist in treatment of foreseeable side effects after prescribing pain medications?

Environmental Ethics

Ethical Environmental Tourism Is The Future
Five things to consider when travelling if you want to make a difference in the lives of animals

World’s poorest countries to aim for 100% green energy
Representatives from 47 of the world’s most disadvantaged nations have pledged to generate all their future energy needs from renewables.


The Myth That Christianity Provides Ethical Guidance
Explicitly Christian signs have featured prominently in the recent protests against President Donald Trump’s immigrant and refugee ban: “Love thy neighbor.” “Jesus was a refugee.” “You call yourselves Christians?”

Christian Leaders Question Trump’s Promise To Favor Christian Refugees
President Trump is promising to give priority to Christians fleeing persecution — yet some of the strongest criticism of his executive order is coming from Christian leaders themselves.

Business and Social Media

Another Live-Streamed Suicide Puts Spotlight on Social Media Ethics
A teenage girl committed suicide early Sunday morning while streaming live on Facebook, the latest disturbing incident to be spread via social media.

Facebook Doesn’t Need a Chief Ethics Officer
Mark Zuckerberg insisted that fake news on Facebook played no role in electing Trump. But Facebook recently hiring former TV news journalist Campbell Brown to develop a different approach to editing, curating, and filtering news.

The Surprise Ethics Lesson of Wells Fargo
The scandal that recently enveloped Wells Fargo teaches an important lesson about running an ethical business.

Artificial Intelligence

Apple joins research group for ethical AI with fellow tech giants
As artificial intelligence becomes an increasingly powerful force, some of the world’s biggest companies are worrying about how the technology will be used ethically, and how the public will perceive its spread.

Whatever happened to the DeepMind AI ethics board Google promised?
Google bought the artificial intelligence company three years ago, part of the deal was setting up an ethics board –  where is it?


Most people don’t care about ethical fashion
Study from 2016 finds that “astonishing number of people are not interested in taking ethics into consideration when making fashion purchases.

Ethical Fashion Becomes The Rule. The Celebrity Wishmaker Simonetta Lein Meets Designer Ilaria Venturini Fendi
Fashion can lead us to a cultural revolution where what we wear can be sustainable, with a story, representing our values and dreams. Simonetta Lein

Sustainable and hi-tech fashion at Berlin’s Green and Ethical Show
This year a record 179 fashion brands took part in Berlin’s Green and Ethical Show.

Diagnosis at a Distance Continues to Undermine Public’s Ability to Evaluate Trump Policies

Image via Gage Skidmore

President Donald Trump’s first week in office was spent signing executive orders regarding the Dakota Access and Keystone XL Pipelines, visa and refugee programs and a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, all which sparked nationwide demonstrations and protests. Since the beginning of Trump’s campaign and more frequently over the past week, media outlets and select “experts”  have been gaining attention by diagnosing Trump with various mental or personality disorders. However, is it ethical for experts in psychology and psychiatry to offer professionals diagnoses of Trump and what are the political implications?

A recent article published in U.S. News & World Report titled, “Temperament Tantrum,” featured a professional assessment of the 45h President from John D. Gartner, a practicing psychotherapist who previously taught psychiatric residents at Johns Hopkins University. Gartner told U.S. News & World Report that Trump has “malignant narcissism,” an incurable narcissistic personality disorder. Despite the Goldwater Rule, in Section 7.3 of the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Ethics Code, which cautions against offering a professional opinion about an individual in the public eye who has not been formally evaluated, Gartner argues that in the case of Trump, he can “make this diagnosis indisputably” and the breaking of the [Goldwater Rule within the] ethics code is warranted.

According to Dr. Celia Fisher, Professor of Psychology and Director of the Fordham University Center for Ethics Education, however, such misleading statements by mental health professionals “helps the Trump administration hide their strategic intent to undermine traditional democratic principles under the guise of a President whose impulses often get the better of him.”

As former Chair of the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Task Force that created the most recent APA Ethics Code, Dr. Fisher notes that not only is Gartner’s diagnosis at a distance “at odds with professional ethics,” but also feeds into “public distrust of both the mental health profession and our political system.”

For more coverage from the Ethics and Society blog on the diagnosing of public figures by mental health professionals, please read “Psychologists who “Analyze” Trump are Violating the Public Trust” and “Psychologists not immune from prohibition on diagnosing famous figures.

Celia B. Fisher, Ph.D. is the Fordham University Marie Ward Doty University Chair in Ethics and Director of the Center for Ethics Education. In addition to chairing the 2002 revision of the American Psychological Association’s Ethics Code, Fisher’s  Decoding the Ethics Code: A Practical Guide for Psychologists, is now in its fourth edition from Sage Publications.

Now Accepting Applications: Fordham/Santander Universities International Student Scholarship in Ethics Education

The 2016 Fordham/Santander Universities International Student Scholars

The application period for scholarships to attend Fordham University’s intensive three-day interdisciplinary ethics graduate course is now open! The course, or workshop, will be held May 23 – 25, 2017 at Fordham University, New York City, USA!

The Fordham/Santander Universities International Student Scholarship in Ethics Education provides direct financial support for international students who wish to pursue graduate-level study in Fordham University’s Master’s in Ethics and Society program.

Students who apply to the program through the scholarship complete the workshop titled, “CEED 6100: Theories and Applications in Contemporary Ethics” which is designed to provide cross-disciplinary perspectives on moral theory and applied ethics. Using a team-teaching approach, this course brings together faculty from at least six different disciplines to integrate foundational knowledge about moral theory from the humanities and sciences with contemporary applications and social issues.

The scholarship covers:

  • Tuition: The cost of tuition for the graduate courses and administrative fees.
  • Travel: Applicants may request funding for travel to New York City Applications should include estimates of costs, including the source for the estimate (e.g., airline website, travel agency).
  • Lodging: As part of the scholarship, housing may be provided to funded students at one of Fordham’s graduate student housing facilities.

Applications for are due March 15, 2017.

2016 Workshop Papers from Santander Scholars

Cheryl Chin: “An exploration of how healthcare clinicians have become constrained into behaving inhumanely in the context of modern healthcare and what can be done to remedy this trend”

Cornelius Ewuoso: “Institutional Norms, Moral Values and Patient’s Cultural/Religious Preferences: Overcoming Moral Distress in Physician-Patient Relationship”

Agata Ferretti: “Should there be a reproductive global market? An ethical reflection about the concept of efficient resource allocation”

Ng: “Should There Be a Market for the Buying and Selling of Votes? A Philosophical Clarification of the Relationship between Moral and Economic Arguments”

Jodie Satterley LL.B.: “Legal and Philosophical Perspectives on the Ethics of the Death Penalty”

In addition to the May 2017 workshop, students may apply to our graduate-level study in Fordham University’s Master’s in Ethics and Society program during the fall 2017 (September – December) or spring 2018 (January – May) semesters or post-doctoral study in their HIV and Drug Abuse Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute (RETI) in July of 2017. Both the master’s program and RETI are administered by the Center for Ethics Education at Fordham University in New York City, USA.

This scholarship is made possible through a generous gift from Santander Universities’ global division, a major social–responsibility initiative created by Banco Santander to advance the bank’s goal of expanding global education.

How to Apply for the International Santander Universities International Student Scholarships

For information on how to apply to the May 2017 Workshop or Master’s in Ethics and Society program or the HIV and Drug Abuse Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute, please visit our Santander Universities scholarship page.

Contact Us

For inquiries about the Master’s in Ethics and Society program, please contact Bryan Pilkington, PhD, Director of Academic Programs.

For inquiries about the HIV and Drug Abuse Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute, please contact Rimah Jaber, MA, Program Administrator.;

‘Goodness of Fit Ethics’ to Promote Health Research for LGBT Youth


This past November, Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research (PRIM&R), a non-profit organization dedicated to the study and advancement of the highest ethical standards in the conduct of research, held its annual Advancing Ethical Research (AER) Conference featuring Dr. Celia B. Fisher, Director of the Center for Ethics Education and HIV and Drug Abuse Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute at Fordham University. She, along with Janet L. Brody, PhD and Eric Kodish, MD, were panelists on Panel III: Research With Children and Adolescents: Who and How Is the Decision Made to Participate?

Discussing her NIH-funded research on ethical issues in research involving LGBT youth, Dr. Fisher discussed the “interfamilial, regulatory and ethical tensions” that emerge in HIV prevention studies striving to recruit sexual and gender minority adolescents under 18 years of age.

Dr. Fisher discussed the requirement of parental permission for at-risk adolescents to enroll in HIV research and how it, contrary to the assumption that it protects participants, results in low enrollment as adolescents may not wish to share their sexual orientation with their families. Furthermore, she added that the need for parental permission both reduces participation and creates ethical issues as an entire population may now have limited or no access to a potential treatment for HIV.

According to Seth Hall of the PRIM&R blog, Dr. Fisher’s solution was to apply her “goodness of fit ethics” in order to reconsider the adolescents’ characterization as a vulnerable, based on the strengths and weaknesses of this particular population. Dr. Fisher and her colleagues found that potential adolescent participants “sufficiently understood relevant aspects of research, such as random assignment, side effects, and privacy risks, to support their informed consent without the need for parental permission.” Additionally, she argued that a waiver of parental/ legally authorized representatives (LAR) permission (45 CFR 46.408(c)) should be included in consent processes which are “appropriate to the development and informational needs of the participants” to promote adolescent enrollment in HIV and drug use research.

Please visit PRIM&R’s blog, Ampersand, for full coverage of the panel in the post titled, “Assent, Consent, and Goodness of Fit.”

Celia B. Fisher, Ph.D. is the Fordham University Marie Ward Doty University Chair in Ethics and Director of the Center for Ethics Education. Fisher’s  Decoding the Ethics Code: A Practical Guide for Psychologist, is now in its fourth edition from Sage Publications.


Fordham University’s Dr. Celia B. Fisher on Bystander Apathy


Image via

Since the election of Donald Trump in November, there has been a 35 percent increase in hate crimes across New York City, according to Straus News.  Throughout the presidential campaign, reported NYPD statistics of the city’s hate crime count has doubled in a year with 43 incidents in the 27 days following the election. The rhetoric and tone of the Trump campaign targeted many minorities and could be the reason for this rise.

These hate crimes and incidents included verbal and physical assaults on two Muslim women, a police officer and an MTA employee, and swastika graffiti in multiple places including the NYC subway and inside the elevator of state Senator Brad Hoylman’s apartment building. New Yorkers met for a workshop last month to educate themselves and help others by speaking up for victims of these attacks.

“When you have groups that are being dehumanized or considered the ‘other,’ there’s something else that’s at play when people don’t do anything,” said Dr. Celia B. Fisher, Director of the Center for Ethics Education and psychologist at Fordham University. “People are violent against others because it gives them a sense of power and belonging to a larger group. In order to combat that, it’s a larger cultural issue in terms of beginning to talk about minorities … in terms of Americans who are one of us.”

Please visit Straus News to read the full article, “Responding to Hate Crimes.”

Celia B. Fisher, Ph.D. is the Fordham University Marie Ward Doty University Chair in Ethics and Director of the Center for Ethics Education. Fisher’s  Decoding the Ethics Code: A Practical Guide for Psychologist, is now in its fourth edition from Sage Publications.