Ethics in the News: Ethics of Voting, Ethics in the Business World, the Ethics of COVID-19 Research, & More – October 16, 2020

U.S. Election

Why There is no Ethical Reason Not to Vote (Unless You Come Down with COVID-19 on Election Day)
“The three most common reasons I hear are: “I don’t have enough information,” “I don’t like any of the candidates,” and “I don’t want to give this election legitimacy.” It is worth examining why, in my view, each argument is flawed, and if, given the unique circumstances of this year’s election, there is at least one ethical reason not to vote.”

There is a way to make America’s 2020 election results trustworthy — but we have to start now
“Despite these serious challenges, there is a way to make America’s 2020 election results trustworthy. Our nation can have an evidence-based presidential election if voters and election officials act now.”

Election experts implore Congress to extend ‘arbitrary’ vote-tallying deadlines
“The question here, of course, is – in the middle of the pandemic, with more people voting absentee – are all the states really going to be able to count their vote and have them ready to be sent in by Dec. 8?” said Meredith McGehee, the executive director of Issue One, a nonpartisan ethics watchdog group.”

Why it’s OK for doctors to ask their patients about voting
 “There are some who think it’s not the job of a physician or nurse to register patients and encourage them to vote,” Dr. Kao’s essay says. “While ‘bedside’ consensus about clinicians’ role in civic engagement is lacking, there is no denying that public policy affects the health and well-being of patients and the public at large.”

Election Less Than a Month Away, Trump Leans on Barr and Pompeo for a Lift
“Trailing badly in the polls and eager to change the subject from the coronavirus, Mr. Trump succeeded in compelling Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to announce that he would make public the emails even as Attorney General William P. Barr resisted pressure from the president to prosecute Democrats like former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., this year’s Democratic nominee.”


Former CIA Director John Brennan on ethics of intelligence, challenges to democracy
“In this episode of Intelligence Matters, host Michael Morell interviews John Brennan, career intelligence officer and former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Brennan, who led the agency during the Obama administration from 2013 to 2017, offers new insights into the intelligence community’s assessments of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, shares concerns about the potential politicization of the community’s work, and discusses the merits of pursuing a career in national security. Brennan, now retired, also discusses details included in his new memoir, UNDAUNTED: My Fight Against America’s Enemies, at Home and Abroad.”

N.Y. City Council Votes to Expel One of Its Own for 1st Time in Memory
“A New York City councilman once made a female staff member uncomfortable by holding her hand for too long and asking her to wear a beautiful gown to a fund-raising gala. He told another staff member, who had to go to the emergency room for menstrual bleeding, to “put a Band-Aid on it.”And he was accused of pocketing $2,000 in cash from a payout to a third staff member and refusing to pay a $15,000 fine imposed by the City Council.”


The Ethics of Reopening
“The country cannot flourish unless we have both population and economic health. Fortunately, these 2 goals are not really in conflict. The strategy to maintain the safety and financial well-being of our country must be based on the best available data. It must be acquired and analyzed through rational processes, rather than wishful thinking. Individuals, business owners, and politicians all face an incredibly complex puzzle, but data and technology can help us reopen the economy and preserve the public’s health at the same time.”

Examining The Ethics Involved When Distributing A COVID-19 Vaccine
“It’s still unknown when a COVID-19 vaccine might be available in the U.S. But when it is, at first, there may only be 10 to 15 million doses available. That’s according to Operation Warp Speed, the government’s vaccine project. And it’s just enough to cover about 3% to 5% of the U.S. population. Dr. Grace Lee, a medical officer at Stanford Children’s Hospital who’s also on the CDC committee, says there’s a lot of people who could really benefit from it.”

Business and Technology

Everything You Need To Know About Ethics In The Business World
“Ethics and moral principles are vital attributes for any business to earn and sustain the trust of customers for longevity, sustain undisputed and unquestioned business for ever, and enjoy long term success in terms of revenue and reputation. Many companies having firm ethical and fair trade/business practices are surviving and thriving for centuries, overcoming all upheavals through ages. Presence of strong ethical business structure facilitates companies to clearly establish and follow good corporate governance procedures and to foresee and elude any bad business practices.”

Ethics Play Important Part in AI Development, Vice Chairman Says
“Decisions about whether or not to engage in armed conflict should always be made by this nation’s leaders, not by AI, he said. If leadership decides to use armed forces to achieve political objectives, then AI should be fully utilized as a tool of warfare under the control of humans.”


DeVos to Be Investigated for Potential Violation of Ethics Law
“An independent government agency will investigate whether Education Secretary Betsy DeVos breached a law forbidding federal employees from engaging in political activities on the job after her department distributed a clip of Ms. DeVos criticizing the Democratic presidential nominee, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., through government channels.”

Ethics, Society and Technology Hub embeds ethics in teaching and research
“In addition to the ongoing curricular work, The EST Hub recently gave out six grants for people developing classes that integrate ethics, society and technology. These include classes focused on race in STEM, the risks and opportunities digital technologies present in civil society, an online version of an existing course on ethical urban data analysis, integrating diverse cultural perspectives in ethics training for global technologies, the ethics of using digital ecosystems for training performance artists and role-playing workshops for engineering courses.”


The Ethics of COVID-19 Research in Children
“As we rush to develop better and more effective treatments and vaccines to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot forget about the concerns and risks in conducting research, especially in vulnerable populations like children. This month’s Ethics Rounds in Pediatrics (2020-010728) reviews the ethics behind testing a COVID-19 treatment on a particularly vulnerable child who has no parents to consent for care or research.”

Ethical or exploitative—should prisoners participate in COVID-19 vaccine trials?
“Now, some researchers argue that including prisoners in studies could offer outsize health benefits. Correctional facilities have experienced many COVID-19 outbreaks and are structurally unsuited to social distancing (among other precautions). And so, the researchers argue, like other people at high risk of catching the disease, prisoners should be allowed to participate in clinical trials.”

What kind of person should the physician be?
“Virtue ethics emphasizes the centrality of moral character, in contrast with the other normative ethics of deontology, which specifies duties or rules, and consequentialism, which focuses on the outcomes of actions. Principlism—which encompasses the familiar four key ethical principles of autonomy, beneficence, nonmaleficence and justice—is an applied ethics approach.”

Bioethics questions emerge from experimental drug used in COVID-19 treatment
“This fact serves to remind us how the abortion mindset has infiltrated all sectors of our society, including many sectors of pharmaceutical research and development. The church has long been protesting this fact, and encouraging the use of alternatives.”

NHGRI researchers work with patients, families and the scientific community to improve the informed consent process
“As public interest and expanded research in human genome editing grows, many questions remain about ethical, legal and social implications of the technology. People who are seriously ill may overestimate the benefits of early clinical trials while underestimating the risks. This makes properly understanding informed consent, the full knowledge of risks and benefits of treatments, especially important.”

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