Ethics and Society Newsfeed – October 26, 2018


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With Migrant Caravan, Trump Stokes a Familiar Fire: Immigration
“Barely two weeks away from an election that threatens to sweep Republicans from power in the House of Representatives and dash any lingering hope of conservative immigration reform, the party, led by President Trump, is leaning more aggressively into dark portrayals of undocumented immigrants in a bid to galvanize voters.”

Sickness, fear, harassment in Mexico whittle away at caravan
“The federal government hasn’t given the migrants on the road a single meal, a bathroom or a bottle of water. It has reserved those basic considerations only for migrants who turn themselves in at immigration offices to apply for visas or be deported. Officials say nearly 1,700 migrants have already dropped out and applied for asylum in Mexico.”

The migrant caravan through the eyes of Catholic social teaching
“The dignity of the human person is the foundation of Catholic social teaching, according to David Hollenbach, S.J., a moral theologian at Georgetown University. The unity of the family is also a primary concern in that tradition, especially with respect to immigration. U.S. citizens do have obligations to each other, Father Hollenbach said, comparing the relationship to the one that a household shares. “Still, if my neighbor’s house is on fire, I cannot say it isn’t my problem,” he said. “All human beings have a fundamental dignity that demands respect. We cannot say, ‘It’s just Americans’” who deserve human dignity and protection.”

‘Transgender’ Could Be Defined Out of Existence Under Trump Administration
“The Trump administration is considering narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth, the most drastic move yet in a government-wide effort to roll back recognition and protections of transgender people under federal civil rights law.”

Trump claims media to blame for ‘anger’ after bombs sent to CNN, Dems
“President Donald Trump returned on Thursday to blaming the media for much of the ‘anger’ in society, a day after CNN and Democrats were the targets of explosive devices…Although the President has often derided the media as ‘fake news,’ even labeling reporters the ‘enemy of the people,’ Thursday’s tweet is especially striking in the wake of potential attacks on a major media outlet and political figures who have criticized him.”

Biomedical/Medical Ethics

The bioethics of wildlife intervention
“As stewards and advocates of nature, we understand the precautionary principle of playing God, its inextricable social and ethical implications, and the requisite, evidence-based risk management of any impending decisions. While there is no absolutism with these difficult situations and exceptions can occasionally be made, moral reflection, consideration of all stakeholders, and development of our own self-knowledge may help us navigate this complex terrain.”

Catholic pharmacist didn’t get Catholic medical ethics right | Opinion
Even more frustrating to me, as a Catholic physician and medical ethicist, was the pharmacist’s reported justification — that as a “good Catholic male” he would be violating his conscience by providing the drug. The fact is that Catholic moral teaching has no objection to the use of medication to treat a miscarriage which has already occurred. The pharmacist either misunderstood or misrepresented the teachings of the Church he claimed to be representing.

Bioethics in Practice: Ethical Considerations for Incentivizing Organ Donation in the US
“The most commonly advanced proposition in the realm of incentivizing organ donation is allowing the sale of organs. In 1984, Congress passed the National Organ Transplant Act, which prohibits the sale of organs, or the offering of any financial compensation for an organ. Iran, notably, has commercialized the organ market, and currently has no waitlist for kidney transplants — by far the most needed organ.”

Trump claims on opioid crisis met with mix of skepticism and hope by experts as deaths plateau
“The wide-ranging legislation expands and reauthorizes an array of programs aimed at treatment and prevention, from finding new, less addictive drugs for pain management to expanding access to treatment for substance abuse disorders. The measure also requires the US Postal Service to screen packages for deadly fentanyl from overseas; aims to prevent ‘doctor-shopping’ by improving state prescription drug monitoring; and helps pregnant mothers struggling with addiction and their babies who go through opioid withdrawal.”

Technology Ethics

“Moral Machine” reveals deep split in autonomous car ethics
“The nub of the ethical dilemma is inherent in the question of what an autonomous car should do when a circumstance arises in which harm is unavoidable. If a vehicle is barrelling along the road and something – a child, an adult, an animal – suddenly steps out in front of it, what should it do? Should it swerve to avoid the pedestrian (or animal) and thus injure or kill its passengers, or should it preserve its passengers and harm or kill the pedestrian?”

“Moral Machine Experiment”: Large-Scale Study Reveals Regional Differences In Ethical Preferences For Self-Driving Cars
“Although there seems to be almost universal agreement about some basic ethical principles self-driving cars should operate according to, there is variation in the strength and ranking of ethical preferences among countries and region. For example, the study found a large amount of cross-cultural agreement that self-driving cars should prioritize human life over non-human lives, but Eastern countries tend to value the lives of the young over the old more than western countries. The results of the study seem to indicate that the search for a universally agreed upon moral code for AI might be a programmer’s fantasy.”

IBM explores the intersection of AI, ethics–and Pac-Man
“As IBM’s researchers thought about the challenge of making software follow ethical guidelines, they decided to conduct an experiment on a basic level as a project for some summer interns. What if you tried to get AI to play Pac-Man without eating ghosts—not by declaring that to be the explicit goal, but by feeding it data from games played by humans who played with that strategy? That training would be part of a special sauce that also included the software’s unconstrained, self-taught game-play techniques, giving it a playing style influenced by both human and purely synthetic intelligence. Stepping through this exercise, IBM’s researchers figured, might provide insights that would prove useful in weightier applications of AI.”

Artificial Womb Technology Can Be A Game Changer for Preterm Infants — If Clinical Hurdles Are Cleared
“According to Ms Romanis, artificial womb technology including the biobag may offer better health improvements in preterm newborns due to its ability to replicate the uterine environment more efficiently than neonatal intensive care support. In addition, conventional neonatal intensive care is invasive and exposes the preterm infant to the outside environment as well as skin-to-skin contact, possibly impacting development. Conversely, the biobag encases the infant and reduces outside disturbances, which researchers suggest may improve outcomes. Despite this supposition, the long-term implications of artificial womb technology remain unknown.”

Business Ethics

In Post-Khashoggi Saudi Arabia, Business Leaders Have a Chance to Fill a Moral Void
“Corporate protests would not have saved Khashoggi, who was dead shortly after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. But recent high-profile controversies in the United States have shown how business activism can make a difference in shaping the agenda on divisive political and social issues.”

US Tech Companies Reconsider Saudi Investment
“The controversy over the death of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi has shined a harsh light on the growing financial ties between Silicon Valley and the world’s largest oil exporter. As Saudi Arabia’s annual investment forum in Riyadh — dubbed ‘Davos in the Desert’— continues, representatives from many of the kingdom’s highest-profile overseas tech investments are not attending, joining other international business leaders in shunning a conference amid lingering questions over what role the Saudi government played in the killing of a journalist inside their consulate in Turkey.”

Volkswagen and the moral business behaviour lessons
“In teaching business ethics, talking through the philosophical arguments might be intellectually stimulating, but will not necessarily encourage ethical behaviour. It is important to realize people are not as rational as they like to believe. Subconscious elements such as intuition, emotions and biases are essential to understand moral conduct.”

OtterBox Ethics Challenge offers CSU students a chance to win free in-state tuition
“Colorado State University students will have the opportunity to win free in-state tuition for 2019 through a new ethics challenge competition funded by OtterBox. The College of Business-OtterBox Ethics Challenge inspires students to use ethics in their everyday business approaches and enables students to practice and cultivate the skills necessary to lead with integrity and be ethical individuals and leaders.”

Sexual Ethics

Radiolab: In the No Part 1
“In 2017, radio-maker Kaitlin Prest released a mini-series called “No” about her personal struggle to understand and communicate about sexual consent. That show, which dives into the experience, moment by moment, of navigating sexual intimacy, struck a chord with many of us. It’s gorgeous, deeply personal, and incredibly thoughtful. And it seemed to presage a much larger conversation that is happening all around us in this moment. And so we decided to embark, with Kaitlin, on our own exploration of this topic.”

Reflections on Two L.G.B.T. Questions at the Synod
“…A few questions about L.G.B.T. people face the delegates at the synod. According to participants, discussions so far have centered on two questions, both about nomenclature: First, can the synod use the term ‘L.G.B.T.’ in its documents? Second, can the synod acknowledge that gay couples can form a “family”? How might we approach those questions—while not challenging the church’s teaching on homosexuality or its opposition to same-sex marriage?”

LGBT Catholics send their experiences to youth synod delegates
“This absolutely is not an anti-church campaign — it is not a ‘gay versus God’ discussion. It is about the reality of the damage done to people across society. The church, as a major leader in the world, can do something powerful to end it.”

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