Ethics & Society Newsfeed: February 17, 2017

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Politics

Trump Ethics Monitor: Has The President Kept His Promises?
To track Trump’s ethics-related promises, NPR checked debate transcripts, campaign speeches and press conferences

Trump’s South Florida estate raises ethics questions
Ethics questions and possible conflicts surrounding President Donald Trump’s frequent trips to his sprawling Mar-a-Lago property, especially in regards to the invitation of Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, over the weekend; a trip Trump pledged to pay for.

Should Jeff Sessions Recuse Himself From the Russia Inquiries?
Bruce Green, director of the Louis Stein Center for Law and Ethics at Fordham University, comments on whether Attorney General, Jeff Sessions should recuse himself from investigations involving former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn and Russian hacking.

Trickle-Down Ethics at the Trump White House
Federal ethics guidelines forbid White House officials from using public position and power for their own private gain or to promote the private business interests of others. Trump Administration actions to be reviewed by the White House counsel and by the Office of Government Ethics.

Government Watchdog Presses Jason Chaffetz To Investigate Kellyanne Conway Himself
Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, requested that The Office of Government Ethics (OGE) investigate Kellyanne Conway’s possible breach of federal ethics rules, indicating that the Chairman may be trying to take pressure off his own committee, which has the most authority to investigate the matter.

Ethics Watchdog Denounces Conway’s Endorsement of Ivanka Trump Products
Federal government’s chief ethics watchdog calls for White House adviser, Kellyanne Conway, to be disciplined after publically endorsing Ivanka Trump’s product line.

Bioethics/Medical Ethics

Scientists ponder future of gene editing to fight disease
Ethical issues surrounding breakthroughs gene editing to fight genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, and cancer.

When doctors kill: Stent scam and decline of Pakistan’s bioethics
Latest scandal amongst Pakistan’s medical community, who receive no ethics training in medical school, involving faulty cardiac stents.

Cancer drugs price rise ‘costing NHS millions’
Possible reasons for why prices for cancer drugs have risen sharply, and notes the steps European countries are taking to make sure costs decrease.

Avoiding the slippery slope of unethical behavior
Sporting an orange prison jumpsuit and handcuffs, Chuck Gallagher declared, “Every choice has a consequence.” He later ditched the get-up as he gave his speech on ethics, but the former convicted felon—now a business ethics speaker—intended to drive home a point. His message boiled down to this: People cheat when they have a chance, but when issues of honesty versus rationalization are openly discussed, people dramatically reduce or stop cheating.

Business

Market Milking and Research Troubles
“People mostly think that Wall Street banks are evil, and so this conflict of interest is often described as something nefarious that the banks do: They inflate their ratings, giving Buys to companies that are really Sells, in order to win investment banking business. This, I think, is mostly not true, though it used to be, and though there are other considerations that do lead banks to give lots of companies Buy ratings. But the conflict obviously exists.”

A New Robo-Adviser Lets You Build Portfolios That Shun Guns and Oil Shares
Startup OpenInvest aims to build portfolios tailored to its customers’ values.
“Users click through a series of menus to create an “issue profile,” checking boxes to select investment themes—such as gender equality or reduced carbon emissions—as well as groups of companies to exclude. …Former hedge funders are bringing social responsibility to online investment advising, with some added cost and complexity.”

Religion

Ethics can make winners, Sheikh Saif bin Zayed says
At the World Government Summit, February 12-14, Sheikh Saif bin Zayed “praised the countries that prioritize ethics and integrate it into their everyday lives, adding that Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, sent a team to countries such as Japan and Canada which teach ethics as part of their education system.”

Technology

The moral dilemmas of the Fourth Industrial Revolution
Call for a global code of ethics in order to cope with the technological era we now live in, which is being called the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Technical Challenges in Machine Ethics
Machine ethics offers an alternative solution for artificial intelligence (AI) safety governance. In order to mitigate risks in human-robot interactions, robots will have to comply with humanity’s ethical and legal norms, once they’ve merged into our daily life with highly autonomous capability. In terms of technical challenges, there are still many open questions in machine ethics.

Environmental Ethics

Physicians’ Duty to Be Aware of and Report Environmental Toxins
Commentary by Gina M. Solomon, MD, MPH, and Steven R. Kirkhorn, MD, MPH in American Medical Association (AMA) Journal of Ethics

Ireland votes to divest public money from fossil fuels
At the end of January Ireland voted to divest public monies from fossil fuels, and this article cites ethics as the driving force behind the decision.

Animal Ethics

The secret trade in baby chimps
After a lengthy investigation, BBC exposes an elaborate chimpanzee smuggling operation.  Chimpanzees are an endangered species, and the sting operation tackles many ethical quandaries including treatment of animals and violating international law.

Stoking the Flames of Competitiveness on an Overheating Planet

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STUDENT VOICES

By: Michael Aprea

This essay is in response to the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs video “Climate Protectionism and Competitiveness.”  

Steam put the world in motion. It lit up the night, and tightened humanity’s grasp on the forces of nature. Nature, however, has eluded the human race and has forced civilization to reconsider its power in the most fundamental sense. Scientist, politicians, and citizens now face the heat as they scramble to address a cycle of global warming spawned by the progress of the industrial revolution that threatens to unhinge the fragile balance of Earth’s ecosystems. Reducing carbon emissions has been the answer to the problem. This standard that has taken hold in developed nations has morphed into a global economic crusade against carbon emissions through regulation, taxation and sanctions seeking to curb the emissions of the developing world. Although consumer responsibility and global collaboration in an endeavor to reverse global warming trends are laudable, it is important to recognize the risks these steps pose on global trade, the citizens of developing countries, and the debt developed nations have as beneficiaries of the first fruits of fossil fuels.

The United States owes its status as an economic superpower to the progress of the industrial revolution; a revolution fueled by carbon emitting fossil fuels. The rapid growth of nations such as Unites States reliant on fossil fuels came at price–rising global temperatures. Carbon doesn’t only heat up cold economies, it also has the ability to raise average global temperatures as it gets trapped in the atmosphere and captures solar radiation. These shifts in temperature have precipitated evident changes in the environment. Recent glacial melting, super storms, and inflated and more rapid extinction rates can all be traced to these rising temperatures. In response, the United States and other developed nations have sought alternative fuels to reduce carbon emissions. These measures entail large investments of capital, and higher costs of production–a reality that makes production in underdeveloped nations more cost effective and foreign products cheaper. This reality, coupled with policies and regulations that seek to reduce carbon emissions through taxation and sanctions on developing nations still very dependent on fossil fuels, raises a host of ethical questions–particularly regarding the right and motive a developed nation has in enforcing such measures.

Competitive advantage, and how it has been gained, is clearly a reality that must be assessed when addressing the justice behind taxation and regulation imposed on developing economies. Developing nations lack the capital to invest in clean technology–capital developed nations have as a result of their prosperity, which was only made possible by carbon emitting fossil fuels. It may seem reasonable to tax and regulate nations seeking to create strong economies through the competitive advantages they may possess, but to simply apply these based on a green energy movement fails to address the heart of the problem, and may embroil admirable causes such as conservation and sustainability in an actual trade war. The United States in particular has benefited the most over the last one hundred fifty years as number one in cumulative carbon emissions (Romm). This lead has given America the title of super power–a super power now capable of retrofitting the engines of its industry to comply with carbon emissions regulations. The world has paid the price for the developed world’s prosperity, and taxation only continues to impose costs. Such a reality begs the question as to how such policy simply continues to suppress the developing world, and exactly how much this policy is geared toward that specific goal given the recent nationalist rhetoric.

Addressing the matter of climate change and carbon emissions must include the realization that the United States and other developed nations have a moral duty to ensure the common good of all while enforcing pollution regulation, especially in cases where nations and people are at the brink of absolute poverty. These people continue to pay the price of the pollution emitted by developed countries over the last century through the climate change and ecological meltdowns unfolding today. These people should not be burdened with the weight of economic stagnation and recession at the hands of policies that shroud efforts to manipulate trade and productivity in the vail of social responsibility. Developed nations must address the real problem of climate change and the need to curb global carbon emission in light of the duty they have to those nations that may be totally shunned in a “green” world.

The responsibility the developed world bears in the wake of this environmental, social, and economic awakening must go beyond simply curbing emissions if any efforts can be hailed as just and in the interest of the common good. These efforts in the short term may be harmful to developed nations, but must stem from a fervent realization that economic power was purchased at a cost the world is bearing, a cost which has disproportionality impact the poor, a cost which must be balanced. Omission, or the reduction of carbon emissions by the developed nations, will in no manner attest to the solidarity this problem calls for. Emissions quotas may curb the global warming trend, but they are no clear path toward a future in which humanity recognizes the fact that this blue green rock floating through space is a common home. Capital investment from the developed nations in the economies of the developing world geared towards bolstering efforts toward green technology and industry is truly the only path that will avoid the maleficence of taxation and regulation. In this short term, this path may cost the developed nations, but in this manner, the economies of both nations can grow in the long term, and a true interest in the socio-economic well-being of all people can be made manifest.

Michael Aprea is completing his M.A. in Ethics & Society at Fordham University.

Sources:
Romm, Joseph. “U.S. Responsible for 29 Percent of CO2 Emissions over past 150 Years, Triple China’s Share.” Grist. N.p., 2009. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.

Ethics & Society Newsfeed: November 11, 2016

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President-Elect Trump and Ethics

Trump and Pence on science, in their own words
Donald Trump and Mike Pence’s career and campaign track record of false claims about science, rejection of research conclusions and dangerous rhetoric on misconceptions such as vaccines and autism

Donald Trump Will Face Unprecedented Ethics Decisions as President
Conflicts of interest between Donald Trump’s business interests and his presidency

Ethics laws don’t require Trump to give up control of his ‘unprecedented’ portfolio
Donald Trump has no legal requirement to forfeit control of his businesses

Trump left something out of his Obamacare speech — the 21 million his plan leaves uninsured
The public health consequences of Donald Trump’s plan to repeal and replace Obamacare

Continue reading “Ethics & Society Newsfeed: November 11, 2016”

Beyond Partisan: Voting While Catholic in 2016

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STUDENT VOICES

By Tim Colvin

For many faithful Catholics and Christians of all denominations, even for many Americans who are not religious, this election has painted a very stark picture: we are forced to choose between the two most flawed and disliked candidates in recent political memory. Many Americans have chosen to vote for third parties as a way to vent their frustration, while others, including myself, have decided that no candidate is fit to lead our country and have decided to not vote at all. I am particularly disappointed that I feel the need to abstain from voting, as this is the first presidential election I can participate in, but I feel as I have a greater duty to my principles and conscience.

But perhaps there is also an opportunity in this election, an opportunity for creative destruction, for new philosophies and ideas to emerge. For the past several decades it has felt like Christians have become more or less clients of the Republican Party; Republicans will take a stand (or will at least pay lip-service) to those particular issues (especially social issues) and Christians will get in line to pull the lever for the Republican candidate.

And now that the culture wars are over for the most part – gay rights and the sexual revolution are arguably, mostly settled issues – the rise of Donald Trump represents a post- culture war Republican Party, where issues of sexual morality have taken a back seat, and issues dealing with economics and immigration have come to the fore. Many faithful Christians have latched themselves, in my view wrongly, to Trump in the hope that he will protect in the battles to come over religious liberty. But as I mentioned, Trump is a candidate who sees social issues as almost second tier, and hardly ever mentions them; even on some occasions taking the side traditionally seen as liberal.

But perhaps out of the creative destruction left behind by the 2016 election, there is a chance to come up with a more Catholic, communitarian political philosophy. Communitarianism, which places an emphasis on the individual’s connection to a wider community, has never been popular in the United States, which has always preferred to have the individual as the most basic unit in its politics. There are already some on the right who have begun to retool the Republican ideology to fit a 21st century context, who see the current Republican outlook mired down in the Reaganism of the 1980s.

Known as “reform conservatives” or “reformicons,” these conservative intellectuals have a lot to offer the Republican Party, such as making the over-encumbered welfare system more pro-family and shifting the party away from its titans of industry image. Of course this revival in Christian thinking should not take place in only one party, and Christians should not feel pigeonholed into supporting just one party. There seems to be a search for a political messiah, a single leader who will save our nation from its political troubles and lead it towards salvation, but this hope is deeply misguided and hopelessly idealistic.

Not all of our problems can or will be solved by politics, and should not dare to hope that politics can deliver us from the evils of this life. I believe a Christian mindset, which accepts that man is a fallen creature, can introduce a healthy dose of realism into the political community.

Tim Colvin is a senior at Fordham University.  He is currently enrolled in Fordham University’s Center for Ethics Education Five Year BA-BS/MA Ethics and Society Program, and is a dual major in Political Science and Classical Civilization with a minor in Philosophy. 

Ethics & Society Newsfeed: October 14, 2016

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Health Care and Bioethics

DNA database highlights need for new medical privacy protections
Creation of a national repository of genetic information is seen by some as crucial to reducing medical costs and improving people’s healthcare.

‘Big data’ could mean big problems for people’s healthcare privacy
Public and private insurers are spending millions of dollars on systems that can predict people’s future healthcare needs.

Colorado Wrestles With Ethics Of Aid In Dying As Vote Looms
Colorado man says he would like the option to end his life rather than face a painful death and advocates for Colorado’s Proposition 106  or “death with dignity.”

The NIH needs to review the ethics of research on primates
Congress asked the National Institutes of Health to review “its ethical policies and processes” on nonhuman primate research “to ensure it has appropriate justification for animal research protocols.”

Breast Cancer Death Rates Are Down, But Racial Disparities Persist
Women are less likely to die of breast cancer than they were a decade ago, but not all women are benefiting from that trend.

Continue reading “Ethics & Society Newsfeed: October 14, 2016”

‘Generosity is penicillin to our culture of entitlement’: Cardinal Dolan on ethics, social justice and issues facing millennials

Cardinal Dolan (center) with Michael Menconi FCRH '14 (left) and Ken Ochs FCRH '14 (right)
Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York (center) with Michael Menconi FCRH ’15 (left) and Ken Ochs FCRH ’15 (right)

On Thursday, June 5, 2014, Fordham University’s Center for Ethics Education Ethics and Society blog student editors Michael Menconi FCRH ’15 and Ken Ochs FCRH ’15 interviewed Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the Archbishop of New York. The 90-minute interview spanned a range of topics including political party participation, research on human and animal subjects, and how Catholic educational institutions should treat students who become pregnant, among others. He also provided background on many of the Catholic Church’s teachings and moral positions.

Continue reading “‘Generosity is penicillin to our culture of entitlement’: Cardinal Dolan on ethics, social justice and issues facing millennials”

Cardinal Dolan on the Ethical Questions of Our Time & Generation (Full Text of the Interview)

Cardinal Dolan (center) with Michael Menconi FCRH '14 (left) and Ken Ochs FCRH '14 (right)
Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York (center) with Michael Menconi FCRH ’15 (left) and Ken Ochs FCRH ’15 (right)

 

On Thursday, June 5, 2014, Fordham University’s Center for Ethics Education Ethics and Society student editors Michael Menconi (FCRH ’15) and Ken Ochs (FCRH ’15) interviewed Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the Archbishop of New York. Cardinal Dolan is former President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, a member of the Board of Trustees at the Catholic University of America, past chairman of Catholic Relief Services, and he also serves on the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization and Pontifical Council for Social Communications in Rome. His Eminence and the editors were joined by Father Thomas Berg, a moral theologian and advisor to Cardinal Dolan, at St. Joseph’s Seminary of the Archdiocese of New York for the interview.

Ochs: Thank you once again for having us. We would like to get started with our first question. You have had a great deal of interaction and dialogue with young people, and college students, particularly Fordham students. You’ve been to our university many times since you’ve been installed as Archbishop of New York. What values—ethical values, religious values, societal values perhaps—do you believe are most important for those in our generation to hold and put into practice?

Continue reading “Cardinal Dolan on the Ethical Questions of Our Time & Generation (Full Text of the Interview)”