Ethics and Society Newsfeed – February 9, 2018

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Politics
The Circumscribed Ethics Investigation into Devin Nunes
“The House Intelligence Committee chair claimed he’d been completely cleared, but the panel probing his conduct never gained access to the intelligence he was accused of divulging.”

Trump’s Choice For Ethics Chief Wins Praise As ‘Somebody Who Plays It By The Book’ “Emory A. Rounds III is an associate counsel at OGE, a career civil servant who previously served in the ethics office of the Commerce Department and in the Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps, or the JAG Corps. The White House announced Wednesday that Trump intends to nominate Rounds as OGE director for a five-year term that requires Senate confirmation.”

Does Texas business group’s use of “dark money” for its political action committee follow state ethics rules?
“The powerful Texas Association of Business has been using “dark money” — which obscures the identity of political donors — for its political action committee. The group says the money’s used only for administrative expenses.”

Ethicists explain exactly why James Comey isn’t qualified for his new gig teaching ethics
“Former FBI director James Comey, who faced the moral quandary of how to appropriately investigate US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during her 2016 campaign and wound up upsetting all sides of the political spectrum, is due to become a professor in, of all subjects, ethical leadership. We wondered if professional ethicists agreed, and so asked four professors in the leadership and ethics to evaluate Comey’s behavior.”

Bioethics/Medical Ethics/Animal Ethics
Spotlight on procreation rights as France begins sweeping bioethics debate
“France on Wednesday kicked off a marathon round of talks designed to inform the country’s legislation on bioethics, with the government hoping to avoid a repeat of the poisonous debate that hijacked the legalisation of same-sex marriage.”

Physicians, ethicists urge Congress not to pass ‘right-to-try’ legislation
“Dozens of doctors, medical ethicists, and lawyers are warning Congress that legislation to allow Americans with life-threatening conditions access to unapproved, experimental 
drugs risks harming patients’ health.”

Now you can genetically test your child for disease risks. Should you?
“Genomics is cheaper and more available than ever, but its usefulness for parents has yet to be proven.”

Monkeys? Humans? The ethics of testing diesel fumes
“German car manufacturer Volkswagen is under fire following revelations that it part-funded tests in which humans and monkeys inhaled diesel fumes for hours.”

Research Ethics
Jump in animal research in Canada generates debate on science ethics
“Critics charge that Canada is lagging other countries in seeking alternatives to using animals in research, and suggest that universities, in particular, can be slow to change their ways.”

Scientists hate the NIH’s new rules for experimenting on humans 
“This week, after almost a decade of work, some new rules go into effect for researchers funded by NIH.”

Diesel monkey tests: can harmful corporate research ever be justified?
“The recent allegations that researchers funded by the German car industry tested the effects of diesel fumes on humans and monkeys has raised serious questions about research ethics in the corporate world.”

Technology Ethics
Ethical Tech Will Require a Grassroots Revolution
“…calling on the companies themselves to redesign their products with ethics, not purely profits, in mind, and calling on Congress to write basic consumer protections into law.”

Should Data Scientists Adhere to a Hippocratic Oath?
“…while calls for regulation have been met with increased lobbying to block or shape any rules, some people around the industry are entertaining forms of self regulation. One idea swirling around: Should the programmers and data scientists massaging our data sign a kind of digital Hippocratic oath?”

The ethical dilemmas of self-driving cars
“The arrival of the self-driving car presents a challenging new dilemma: Whom should the vehicle save – and whom should it harm – when an accident is unavoidable? “

The ethics of AI: Robots will rise, but will they rule us all? “The rise of artificial intelligence is posing interesting challenges for society, raising questions about ethics in a modern world where robots have intelligent decision-making power.”

Want to design user behavior? Pass the ‘regret test’ first
“What are the ethical responsibilities of companies that are able to manipulate human behavior on a massive scale? It’s a question one hopes technologists and designers ask themselves when building world-changing products — but one that hasn’t been asked often enough.”

As technology develops, so must journalists’ code of ethics 
“AI is sure to bring many benefits but concerns over its ability to make decisions mean human journalists’ input remains vital”

Environmental/Climate Change Ethics
Evaluating the Environmental Impacts of Trump’s Presidency
“Looking back at the rollbacks the president has made to environmental protections and regulations throughout his first year in office.”

Trump EPA nominee advances after hosting fundraisers for 2 Senate committee members
“The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved the nomination of former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to serve as deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a 11-10 party-line vote. “

Should People Stop Eating Seafood?
“Fish eating is, for me, an ethics issue, but it is difficult to disentangle that part with the sustainability component,” Marino said. “Conservation is an ethical issue for me as well.”

Business Ethics
Comment: ‘We can’t leave Silicon Valley to solve AI’s ethical issues’
“Guendalina Dondé of the Institute of Business Ethics explains how companies can empower their employees and other stakeholders to use artificial intelligence efficiently, effectively and ethically”

Ethical leadership can have negative consequences, Baylor University researchers say “A new Baylor study published in the Journal of Business Ethics reveals that ethical leadership compounded by job-hindrance stress and supervisor-induced stress can lead to employee deviance and turnover. The research reflects the thoughts of 609 employees who were surveyed across two studies.”

Why Indian business schools will soon teach about karma, Mahabharata
“Business schools in India are set for a revamp of their curriculum, which will see the introduction of a new course on Indian ethics and concepts.”

Business schools now teaching #MeToo, N.F.L. protests and Trump
“As topics like sexual harassment dominate the national conversation and chief executives weigh in on the ethical and social issues of the day, business schools around the country are hastily reshaping their curriculums with case studies ripped straight from the headlines.”

Ethics and Pop Culture
‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and the ethics of prisoner organ donations
“The idea of using a death-row inmate’s organ to save a child’s life made for entertaining and thought-provoking television, but it barely scratched the surface of the ongoing global debate over the ethical and legal implications of organ donations from inmates.”

‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Confronts The Ethics And Science Of Survival, And Human Frailty Star Trek: Discovery episode 14 “The War Without, the War Within” confronts character ethics.

Philosophy and Ethics
In Theory: Feminist thinkers challenge ‘traditional ethics’
“A driving force for this revolution [women’s movements] might be a subject taught in women’s studies and modern-day philosophy courses known as “feminist ethics,” a branch of thought that argues “traditional ethics” neglects the perspective of women.”

Ethics & Society Newsfeed: December 8, 2017

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Technology Ethics

Artificial Intelligence Seeks An Ethical Conscience
“Leading artificial intelligence researchers gathered this week for the prestigious Neural Information Processing Systems conference have a new topic on their agenda. Alongside the usual cutting-edge research, panel discussions, and socializing: concern about AI’s power.

Four ethical priorities for neurotechnologies and AI
“Artificial intelligence and brain–computer interfaces must respect and preserve people’s privacy, identity, agency and equality, say Rafael Yuste, Sara Goering and colleagues.”

Can we teach robot ethics?

When man meets metal: rise of the transhumans

The Ethics of Self-Driving Cars

Bioethics/Medical Ethics

First Baby Born To U.S. Uterus Transplant Patient Raises Ethics Questions
“…talking about the birth of a baby boy to a mother who underwent a uterus transplant last year. It’s a first in the U.S., but in Sweden, eight babies have been born to mothers with uterus transplants. Not everyone is celebrating though.”

2017’s Word Of The Year In Health Law And Bioethics: Uncertainty

In the World of Online Health Quizzes, Who’s Looking Out for Consumers?

His Tattoo Said ‘Do Not Resuscitate.’ Doctors Wanted Another Opinion.

The ‘smart pill’ for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder raises tricky ethical questions

Conjoined Twins Ethical Dilemma: When Parents Need to Sacrifice One Life for the Other

The Ethics of a Child’s Future Fertility

Research Ethics

Purdue University Mounted a Child Nutrition Study. It Went Very, Very Wrong.

Politics

Ethics panel denied details on lawmakers accused of harassment
“Members of Congress voiced frustration Thursday that they remain in the dark about exactly how many of their colleagues have been accused of sexual harassment due to confidentiality rules they’re hoping to reform.”

McConnell: Moore will face Senate ethics probe if he wins election

Ethics Committee launches investigation into Farenthold sexual harassment allegations

Intelligence Committee chair Devin Nunes cleared of wrongdoing in House ethics probe

Former Ethics director to file second complaint against Kellyanne Conway

Business Ethics

Auditors and ethics: its worse than you think
“A decline in ethics would ultimately have a ripple effect into the economy with the poor the most likely collateral damage”

Changing Culture and Ethics at Uber

What’s The Difference Between Business Etiquette And Business Ethics?

Sustainable finance: Can socially responsible investing mitigate climate change?

Ethics and Pop Culture

Plastic Surgeons Weigh In On The Ethics Of Celebrity-Inspired Procedures
“And while we’re all for a person’s right to choose whether or not plastic surgery is for them, we couldn’t help but wonder about the ethics behind celebrity-inspired procedures. For instance, what do doctors do if they think a client’s desire for change verges on obsession? Do they refuse procedures or go a different route?” 

Sia tweets a long response to article criticising her collaboration with a child dancer

Dangerous Ethics Oversight in Purdue Child Nutritional Study: Fordham University’s Dr. Celia Fisher Weighs In

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This past July. an $8.8 million dollar, camp-like nutrition study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) was shut down, resulting in a vast internal investigation at Purdue University, one of the nation’s top research institutions, and raising several issues about research ethics and the role of institutional review boards (IRBs), according to Undark. What went wrong? A video of an adolescent girl showering in a dormitory was posted on social media.

The study, Camp DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)  was designed to evaluate effects of a low sodium diet on 11- to 15-year-old boys and girls with elevated blood pressure. Purdue University were set to host the children in campus housing for seven weeks in the summer.

The University President Mitch Daniels shut down the study two weeks early after the incident was reported to the police and the county prosecutor began looking into additional allegations of crimes among adolescents in the study. Daniels An investigation led by Purdue University’s Vice President for Ethics and Compliance, Alysa Christmas Rollock was launched soon after. Rollock’s investigation, which Purdue University released November 28, shows over “thirty incidents of threats, violence, or sexual abuse among the study participants, many involving calls to campus police. (Two participants were arrested in the first few days of the study.)” Additionally, Rollock reported several “instances of non-compliance on the part of the study’s principal investigator, or PI, Connie Weaver, that may have contributed to unsafe conditions for the minor participants” as well as “various conflicts of interest inherent in the study’s design.”

Dr. Celia Fisher, Professor of Psychology and Ethics at Fordham University and Director of the University’s Center for Ethics Education explained to Undark that “even if the NIH approved the trial design for the Camp DASH study, they would have relied on the university’s IRB to work out the details for the protection of study participants.”

Fisher, who has been working in the field of research ethics involving vulnerable populations for several decades, and who chaired the creation of the current American Psychological Association Ethics Code, said that she would have expected Purdue University’s IRB approval to be contingent on the “gold standard in counselors.” She continued, after discovering the counselors were primarily undergraduate students, “To have a sleepover camp for young teenagers supervised by 18 to 21-year-olds who do not have an adult supervisor there monitoring…I can’t even.”

Because no federal regulations require that members of IRBs be “scientists or know anything about scientific ethics,” Fisher explained, “not all IRBs are created equal…and vary significantly from institution to institution.” IRBs are typically pulled from university faculty and not paid for their work on the board. She added that because there is a “diverse range of expertise” among IRB members that is not well-suited to every study, “They [IRB members] may try very hard to apply ethical standards, but if they have no understanding of the type of research that’s being conducted, then they may not be able to identify all the risks and benefits of the participation.”

The problem, Fisher concluded, with most university IRB members is that the “lack of expertise and the lack of funding that they get” despite being genuinely interested in the protection of human subjects.”

As a result of the investigation, the study’s remaining three summers of the study are cancelled and “all of the collected data will be thrown out.” The biomedical institutional review board (IRB) of the University stated in late November that future study applications submitted by Weaver will not be reviewed until she submits a “comprehensive remediation plan,” including training and oversight by an outside mentor, according to the article.

Weaver, the study’s PI, released a statement last Tuesday that said, “I am deeply saddened by the instances that caused Camp DASH to end early. As the principal investigator, I accept responsibility for events that occurred at Camp DASH. The safety and security of research participants always comes first.”

Please visit Undark to read the full article, “Purdue University Mounted a Child Nutrition Study. It Went Very, Very Wrong.


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

 

Ethics & Society Newsfeed: World AIDS Day 2017

World AIDS Day, December 1, 2017
National Aids Trust (NAT)

“World AIDS Day takes place on the 1st December each year. It’s an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day.”

The theme of this year’s World AIDS Day, as promoted by NAT,  is “Let’s End It.” This year, NAT is asking everyone to join the fight to end the negative impacts of HIV including isolation, stigma and HIV transmission. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there were 36.7 million people living with HIV at the end of 2016 and 20.9 million people living with HIV were receiving antiretroviral therapy globally. This year, WHO is advocating for access to safe, effective, quality and affordable HIV services, medicines and and diagnostics other health commodities for all those in need with their slogan “Everybody counts.”

Please visit the World AIDS Day website for more information about the history of the day and how to get involved, support and show solidarity with the millions of people living with HIV.

HIV/AIDS in the News

World AIDS Day 2017 Theme, Facts and Events: Everything You Need to Know

World AIDS Day: I have HIV and I’ll work to end this epidemic until I no longer can

The Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic Explained in 3 Charts

The Global Gag Rule Impacts Hard-Fought Progress On HIV/AIDS Relief

On World AIDS Day, “encouraging signs” seen in fight against HIV

NIH Statement on World AIDS Day 2017

World Aids Day 2017: Donald Trump breaks tradition by not mentioning LGBT community in proclamation

It’s World AIDS Day and this is what the White House page still looks like

Continue reading “Ethics & Society Newsfeed: World AIDS Day 2017”

Fordham University’s Dr. Celia Fisher Weighs in on Researchers Using Real Guns in Study with Children in Mic

In a recent study, researchers asked children ages 8 – 12 years old to watch 20-minute clips of PG-rated movies that either included or did not include gun violence. The objective of the study was to test whether children exposed to gun violence in movie clips would 1) handle a real gun longer and 2) pull the trigger more times than children not exposed to the same clip edited to not contain gun violence.

The children were then placed into a university laboratory containing toys, games and a real, 0.38 caliber gun which was disabled and modified to have a sensor counting trigger pulls with the door closed. A research assistant sat in an exterior greeting room if the children had questions. The study found that children who watched the clip containing guns were more likely to use the guns themselves than the children who watched the clip that did not contain guns (median trigger pulls were 2.8 compared to 0.01 and median number of seconds holding the gun were 53.1 compared to 11.1, respectively). Roughly 27% of children informed the assistant about the gun or handed it over and a small number aimed the gun at other children.

Although this study was approved by the scientists’ institutional review board, many ethicists believe the potential harm of the study was “not worth it,” including Dr. Celia Fisher, director of Fordham University’s Center for Ethics Education. “In any kinds of ethics evaluation, we have to balance the risk against the benefit. I think the study’s results are not of great scientific importance because we already know what the result is going to be. We have decades of scientific research showing that kids will imitate aggressive behavior they view on the TV screen,” Fisher told Mic.
Continue reading “Fordham University’s Dr. Celia Fisher Weighs in on Researchers Using Real Guns in Study with Children in Mic”

Fordham University’s Dr. Celia Fisher Discusses Transgender Healthcare on WFUV

 

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Transgender and gender non-conforming communities face a number of various healthcare challenges, both social and medical, including “stigma, discrimination and lack of access to quality healthcare.”

Fordham Conversations Host Robin Shannon talks with Dr. Celia Fisher, Marie Ward Doty University Chair in Ethics, Professor of Psychology, and founding Director of the Fordham University Center for Ethics Education, about these disparities on WFUV.

Please visit WFUV to listen to the full interview, “The Troubles with Transgender Healthcare.”


For LGBT resources, please visit RELAY (Research and Education for LGBT and Allied Youth). RELAY is a project of Fordham University’s Center for Ethics Education which looks to advance the conversation about health for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and especially trans youth. Please also visit the resource page for creating an LGBTQ-inclusive classroom.

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

Ethics & Society Newsfeed: October 6, 2017

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Bioethics/Medical Ethics

Pope denounces technologies that help people change gender
“Pope Francis denounce Thursday how new technologies are making it easier for people to change their genders, saying this ‘utopia of the neutral’ jeopardizes the creation of new life.”

KAST calls for loosening up of law on bioethics
“The Korean Academy of Science and Technology (KAST), a prominent society of top scientists, pushed for greater flexibility in the application of gene correction technology Friday.”

Videos during surgery? Some plastic surgeons go too far, Northwestern researchers say
In recent years, some plastic surgeons have started posting videos of their surgeries on social media in hopes of informing and attracting new patients. But in some cases, their antics seem designed more for entertainment than education, raising ethical questions, according to a new paper from Northwestern Medicine researchers published in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.”

Nevada law says chief medical officer must advise on executions despite ethical clash
“Nevada’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. John DiMuro’s role in helping choose the lethal drugs for an upcoming execution could put him in an ethical quandary as an anesthesiologist committed to preserving life.”

Are radiologists getting enough medical ethics training?
“Radiologists spend a lot of years in medical school and in residency, but they still aren’t getting enough medical ethics training, according to a recent analysis published in the American Journal of Roentgenology.”

Politics

Editorial: SF’s Ethics Board fails to tackle money in politics
“The San Francisco Ethics Commission had the opportunity to pass a commonsense measure to curtail money in politics. It failed. The ordinance would have banned the practice of allowing political donors to contribute to the charitable causes of favored candidates when those donors have a contract up for approval or a pending land-use decision in front of city officials.”

How to Get Away With Murder, or at Least Corruption, in Brazil
“No less than 40 percent of Brazil’s 594 lawmakers face formal investigations before the Supreme Court, the tribunal’s figures show. Forty-seven deputies and eight senators are currently defendants in criminal trials. Just two have lost their jobs over corruption charges.”

Cyber Sedition: How the Alt-Right Is Challenging Free Speech on the Internet
“Though the alt-right’s internet presence poses unprecedented challenges to free speech, allowing private actors to become the gatekeepers of acceptable speech online places the fundamental idea of free expression at risk.”

Veterans Agency Seeks to Scrap Ethics Law on For-Profit Colleges
“The Department of Veterans Affairs is pushing to suspend a 50-year-old ethics law that prevents employees from receiving money or owning a stake in for-profit colleges that pocket hundreds of millions of dollars in tuition paid through the G.I. Bill of Rights.”

The Trump officials caught splurging on luxury travel
“Tom Price’s pricey private flights unleashed a number of stories about other Trump administration officials flying charter, military or private on taxpayers’ dime.”

Menendez trial: Prosecutors tie political donations to Menendez meeting
“U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez requested a meeting with a high-ranking State Department official to talk about port security issues in the Dominican Republic on the same day that Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen agreed to donate $60,000 to help Menendez’s re-election and to fight a recall effort against him, prosecutors said Thursday. Melgen owned a 50 percent stake in a company, ICSSI, that was urging the Dominican government to honor a port security screening contract that could potentially be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, according to prosecutors.”

Business Ethics

Why values and ethics are good for business
“It is a privilege to be a trusted and integral part of a person’s recovery from addiction. So, I am deeply troubled when I see facilities cutting corners and bending the rules to increase revenue or profit. These actions are not only short-sighted from a business standpoint, but also highly unethical and potentially dangerous to those who have entrusted us to help them recover.

Middle managers may turn to unethical behavior to face unrealistic expectations
“While unethical behavior in organizations is often portrayed as flowing down from top management, or creeping up from low-level positions, a team of researchers suggest that middle management also can play a key role in promoting wide-spread unethical behavior among their subordinates.”

The Morality of Charles Koch
“For those who regard capitalism and Christianity as mortal enemies, few villains loom as large as Charles Koch, whose name in some quarters has become a synonym for a system based on greed and exploitation. By his own admission, the libertarian-leaning billionaire is not religious. So why would such a man choose the Catholic University of America for a $10 million gift to help relaunch its business school?”

Educational/Academic Ethics

Harvard Business School earns an incomplete in ethics
“Some argue that you can’t teach ethics to a bunch of 26-year-olds. But you can certainly lead by example. Alas, the recent example set by the leadership of HBS shows a blatant disregard for even the simplest of ethical considerations.”

Technology Ethics

DeepMind announces ethics group to focus on problems of AI
“Deepmind, Google’s London-based AI research sibling, has opened a new unit focused on the ethical and societal questions raised by artificial intelligence.”

Who should die when a driverless car crashes? Q&A ponders the future
“Should a driverless car swerve to miss a child, knowing it will kill its passenger? Or should it maintain its path and end a younger life? It’s deeply troubling ethical dilemmas like these that Sandra Peter believes will hinder the mass uptake of driverless cars, possibly beyond our lifetimes.”

Ethics of Internet research trigger scrutiny
A research paper that used publicly available data about people’s addresses and likely movements to unmask the anonymous graffiti artist Banksy “highlights growing concerns about the potential hazards of research that uses public data.”

Digital Technology May Start a New Scientific revolution in Social Research
“The collection of “big data” and the ability to do experiments using the internet, may be the start of a scientific revolution in social research. But there are important ethical considerations that also need to be factored in.”

Software engineers must think deeply about ethics
“I believe technology is immensely constructive and, like any power, if wielded correctly, can in fact make the world a better place. I still believe most jobs will be automated, and, in the long run, humanity will be better off from it. But great power must be accompanied by great responsibility, which remains largely absent in Silicon Valley.”