Ethics in the News: The Ethics of Who Gets the COVID Vaccine and When, Ethical Complaints in Government, Ethics of Facial-Recognition, & More – January 22, 2021


The Ethics Of Who Gets The COVID-19 Vaccine And When

“We are devoting this entire hour to questions we’re getting about the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines, including the big question of how different groups of Americans are being prioritized. Now we want to get some perspective on the kind of thinking that goes into these decisions and other practical questions about who is next in line.”

Has coronavirus made us more ethical consumers? 

“Take a 2020 global survey by management consultancy firm Accenture. It said that consumers “have dramatically evolved”, and that 60% were reporting making more environmentally friendly, sustainable, or ethical purchases since the start of the pandemic. Accenture added that nine out of 10 of that percentage said were likely to continue doing so.”

Vaccine Priorities: Politics and Ethics

“Vaccine priorities: political and ethical questions about who comes first, after health care workers. Gregg Gonsalves considers the arguments; the choice is between reducing the death toll, which means giving priority to the oldest people—and keeping society functioning, which means giving priority to essential workers. And the Global South must be included in all vaccine distribution plans—because “the virus doesn’t care where you live.””

I Might Be Able to Jump the Vaccine Line. Should I?

“First, let me note that the C.D.C. hasn’t in fact established binding guidelines about vaccine distribution; a working group set up by the C.D.C. has suggested criteria, but right now states are left to follow their own rules.”

Do physicians have a responsibility to be vaccinated?

“The responsibility to be vaccinated is not absolute. However, as the recently adopted report by AMA’s Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs notes, the more readily transmissible the disease and the greater the risk to patients and others with whom the physician comes into contact relative to risks of immunization to the physician, the stronger the  duty to accept immunization. Physicians should not be required to accept immunization with a novel agent until and unless there is a body of scientifically well-regarded evidence of safety and efficacy.”


Biden to implement new ethics rules banning ‘golden parachute’ bonuses for appointee

“President-elect Joe Biden plans to impose a slew of new ethics restrictions on his incoming administration, a source familiar with the plan tells CNN, including barring his appointees from accepting “golden parachute” bonuses from their former employers when they join the government.”

Trump Frees Former Aides From Ethics Pledge, Lobbying Ban

“Donald Trump released current and former members of his administration from the terms of their ethics pledge.”

Democrats Ask Ethics Panel to Investigate Sens. Cruz, Hawley

“Seven Democratic senators have asked the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley “to fully understand their role” in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump.”

Trump revokes administration ethics rules on his way out the door

“In one of his final acts in office, in the wee hours of the night, President Donald Trump revoked Executive Order 13770, an order on ethics he signed when he first took office, freeing the way for people who have served in his administration to cash in with lobbying gigs.”

Beyond Impeachment, a Push for Ethics Laws That Do Not Depend on Shame

“As House Democrats move toward punishing President Trump with a history-making second impeachment, they are also pressing ahead with a parallel effort to try to ensure that Mr. Trump’s four-year record of violating democratic and constitutional norms cannot be repeated.”

Can the U.S. Avoid More Political Violence?

“The violent end to Trump’s presidency only puts an exclamation point on the run-on sentence of ethically questionable behavior displayed throughout his four-year term.

And as he leaves office, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are already at work on ethics changes that aim to prevent some of his most egregious behavior from becoming normalized.”

Emails show Interior ethics officials raised concerns over October video promoting Trump

“The video in question praises the “Trump administration conservation record” and was shared by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, who tagged President Trump in his Twitter post.

The video drew swift criticism from watchdog groups that said it may have violated ethics laws and the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from electioneering at work.”

Chicago Board of Ethics fines Ald. Carrie Austin’s political committee $145,500

The Chicago Board of Ethics fined embattled South Side Ald. Carrie Austin’s political committee $145,500 for accepting more money in campaign cash from a contributor than is allowed, officials said.

Denver Mayor Hancock must respond to ethics complaint about Thanksgiving travel

“Hancock flew to Texas over the holiday, where he rented a car and drove to Mississippi to be with his wife and youngest daughter. As he traveled, he was sharing messages on social media asking everyone to avoid leaving town.”


Yale study on distress in autistic toddlers draws ethics concerns

“A Yale study that deployed mechanical spiders to assess how autistic toddlers respond to emotional distress has drawn widespread criticism on social media for its methods of eliciting fear in the children.”

Many scientists citing two scandalous COVID-19 papers ignore their retractions

“In June 2020, in the biggest research scandal of the pandemic so far, two of the most important medical journals each retracted a high-profile study of COVID-19 patients. Thousands of news articles, tweets, and scholarly commentaries highlighted the scandal, yet many researchers apparently failed to notice. In an examination of the most recent 200 academic articles published in 2020 that cite those papers, Science found that more than half—including many in leading journals—used the disgraced papers to support scientific findings and failed to note the retractions.”


The ethical questions that haunt facial-recognition research

“The complaint, which launched an ongoing investigation, was one foray in a growing push by some scientists and human-rights activists to get the scientific community to take a firmer stance against unethical facial-recognition research. It’s important to denounce controversial uses of the technology, but that’s not enough, ethicists say. Scientists should also acknowledge the morally dubious foundations of much of the academic work in the field — including studies that have collected enormous data sets of images of people’s faces without consent, many of which helped hone commercial or military surveillance algorithms.”

Why Ethics Matter For Social Media, Silicon Valley And Every Tech Industry Leader

“Should tech companies step in to create and enforce guidelines within their platforms if they believe such policies would help the greater good? Or should leaders allow their technology to evolve organically without filters or manipulation?”


Higher Ed Workers Get in the COVID Vaccine Line

“Public colleges in West Virginia and Florida are among the first in the country to begin administering the coveted COVID-19 vaccines to certain faculty and staff who do not work in health care.”

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