Ethics and Society Newsfeed – October 5, 2018

Copy of ETHICS
Image via Mobilus In Mobili

Politics

Everything on Brett Kavanaugh and the F.B.I. Investigation
“Around 2:30 a.m., the White House said in a statement it had received the F.B.I.’s investigation, which was “being transmitted to the Senate” as well. The statement expressed confidence the completed inquiry would not stand in the way of Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation. On Wednesday, Senator Mitch McConnell set up a key test vote for Friday, shortly after a floor speech in which his anger spilled out.”

The Senate Should Not Confirm Kavanaugh
“We are law professors who teach, research and write about the judicial institutions of this country. Many of us appear in state and federal court, and our work means that we will continue to do so, including before the United States Supreme Court. We regret that we feel compelled to write to you, our Senators, to provide our views that at the Senate hearings on Sept. 27, Judge Brett Kavanaugh displayed a lack of judicial temperament that would be disqualifying for any court, and certainly for elevation to the highest court of this land.”

House conservatives want ethics probe into Dems’ handling of Kavanaugh allegations
“A group of House conservatives is pushing the House and Senate Ethics committees to launch investigations into Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) handling of Christine Blasey Ford’s letter detailing her sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.”

New Group Hoping To Improve Ethics Of Wisconsin Political Leaders
“The group, formed earlier this year in La Crosse, is hoping to spread statewide through local chapters. People will pay $25 per year to become members. They will get a monthly newsletter that focuses on good and bad examples of ethical leadership in politics. Members will also be able to grade elected leaders for statewide offices and Wisconsin’s U.S. Senators and members of Congress.”

Biomedical/Medical Ethics

Editor bans religious arguments from bioethics journal
“Secular societies cannot possibly function as arbiters of the truth or otherwise of their diverse citizenries religious beliefs. The reasons for this are well‐known and reflected in myriad highest courts’ judgments delivered across liberal societies’ jurisdictions. As a consequence of this, while debates in such societies will countenance in varied ways religious arguments, ultimately only views that can be defended within the analytical frameworks of public‐reason based arguments can succeed in secular societies.”

French bioethics body backs assisted reproduction for all women
“France’s highest bioethics body, the National Consultative Ethics Committee (CCNE), ruled on Tuesday that access to medically assisted reproduction should be expanded to include single women and lesbian couples…Under the current law, technologies such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and artificial insemination are restricted to heterosexual couples and surrogacy is illegal.”

A “Healthspan” Duty to Die for the Elderly?
“Indeed, lurking ominously between the lines of these discussions is a bioethical concept known as the ‘duty to die.’ Proposed most (in)famously by bioethicist John Hardwig in 1997 in the Hastings Center Report — the world’s most prestigious bioethics journal — the duty to die seeks to prevent people who have lived complete lives from becoming burdens on themselves, their families, and society. ”

Liver transplant from HIV+ living donor to negative recipient: Key ethical issues
“South Africa’s law does not forbid the transplantation of an organ from a living HIV positive donor to an HIV negative recipient, provided that a robust informed consent process is in place. But this isn’t universally accepted as best clinical practice because of the risk of HIV transmission to the recipient.”

Technology Ethics

Cracking The Code On AI’s Sometimes Questionable Decisions
“Without an understanding of why the deep learning algorithm is assigning greater weight to certain variables over others, we’re not able to prove that we’re being fair, unethical or unbiased in our business decisions. Hopefully, the research being conducted by major tech players will ultimately help us identify the variables and their emphasis on final decisions. In the future, we’re hoping companies will be able to assign something akin to a credit score, explaining that the decision to deny a loan was formulated based on 60% employment status, 20% historical data of similar customers and 20% on income.”

Can AI Put An End To Fake News? Don’t Be So Sure
“The project, for now at least, will be most useful in conjunction with manual fact-checkers, but once the machine learning algorithm develops further it will theoretically be able to identify these sites in advance and inform media watchdogs to the risks. However, the rapid and widespread proliferation of fake news, mainly through unrestricted channels on social media, raises an important question: will the promise of artificially intelligent detection lull readers into a false sense of security?”

Facebook’s political ad policy also blocked LGBT messages
“Facebook’s tougher political advertising policy has had more unintended side-effects. The Washington Post has discovered that the social network inadvertently blocked dozens of LGBT-themed ads after its screening system (which includes automated and human moderators) deemed them political. Most didn’t contain advocacy or obvious political leanings — the only common link was a reference to LGBT keywords.”

Business Ethics

Amazon announces $15 minimum wage for all US employees
“Workers across the country have pushed for a $15 minimum wage, most notably as part of the movement known as Fight for $15. Supporters say it’s a remedy for widening wage inequality and will boost consumer spending, while opponents counter that it could reduce opportunities for employment, particularly for teenagers and others looking for entry level or low-skilled jobs.”

How to Identify MBA Programs That Emphasize Ethics
Experts say a solid business school ethics curriculum will include case studies based on real-life dilemmas that business executives have faced and opportunities for students to debate and discuss ethics. According to experts, courses in business disciplines where there is a high risk of ethical malfeasance, such as accounting or investing, ought to include a discussion of the temptations toward unethical behavior that exist within those disciplines.

Sexual Ethics

We Can’t Just Let Boys Be Boys
“Rather than a deviant’s expression of pathology, assault among adolescents is more likely to be a crime of opportunity. Boys do it because they can: because they are oblivious, because they are ignorant, because they are impulsive, because they have not learned to see girls and women as fully human. And yes, science has confirmed what common sense presumes: Boys are much more likely to rape when they are drunk. And the more they drink, the more aggressive they are, and the less aware of their victims’ distress.”

AIA [American Institute of Architects] updates code to “end sexual harassment in the workplace
“Updates that forbid harassment or discrimination, and call for the provision of fair working environments, come in light of international events like the International Women’s Day and global marches, and the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.”

Conservatives must face John Paul II’s legacy in sex abuse crisis
“He was the one who not only set the pattern for ignoring victims, but who led the Vatican in the ’80s and ’90s, when bishops were routinely told to reinstate priests, not to be too tough on “poor father.” He was the one who promoted Theodore McCarrick not once, not twice, not thrice, but four times. Tackling these well-known truths, however, would mean disturbing some of the mythology conservatives hold most dear.”

Racial Ethics

In a First, Georgetown Launches Racial Justice Institute
“Georgetown University is set to begin faculty recruitment to launch the Institute for Racial Justice, a multidisciplinary research and advocacy organization, as part of a series of commitments the university made to racial equality. The institute’s launch will mark the completion of University President John J. DeGioia’s commitments made in February 2016 to expand the university’s commitment to racial justice.”

Philosophy is the new battleground in South Africa’s fight against colonialism
“To study philosophy in South Africa today is to study a series of pronouncements from white, European men…To judge from the syllabi of many South African university philosophy courses, African philosophy simply doesn’t exist. And, for growing numbers of South African students, their universities’ Euro-centric presentation of philosophy is not a tangential product of colonialism, but core to the imperialist mission.”

How the ‘natural talent’ myth is used as a weapon against black athletes
“Two years ago Frisby published a study examining the media depictions of black male athletes. What she found, after analyzing a decade’s worth of news clippings, was that black male athletes receive ‘significantly more negative coverage’ in the form of hard news stories about domestic and sexual violence; all the while their white counterparts are the hero protagonists of feature and profile stories that lay bare the shades of their humanity. The separate but equal reporting doesn’t just reinforce false notions about black athletes being more ‘naturally talented’ than their ‘gritty’ white peers. It lends credence to a spurious concept known as stacking, in which athletes are viewed as being particularly well suited to play certain positions based on race or ethnicity.”

 

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