In the first post of this series I give a broad overview of some of the ethical issues arising from the "new genetics."
In my last post I focused on the question of whether it is acceptable to limit access to foods which contribute to the struggle of obesity. Another important aspect of this issue, however, is the manner in which those foods are marketed.
Obesity is a complex problem and it may require more than just physical change.
As a case in bioethics, the case of Rosemary’s Baby (1968) serves to demonstrate several things.
The O’Bannon Case, College Sports, and Property Rights in One’s Image and Public Likeness
For Zachary Brubaker, taking a stand means uniting the blind and sighted to promote respect and equality for workers with disabilities. For Maggie Cardin, taking a stand means working to educate emerging teachers to recognize and prevent depression and suicide in students. Two Penn State students received the 2014 Stand Up Award for showing courage and fortitude and demonstrating ethical leadership through personal example. The Stand Up Awards are sponsored by the Rock Ethics Institute in the College of the Liberal Arts at Penn State
Are Ethical Arguments for Climate Change Action Weaker Than Self-Interest Based Arguments? Why Taking Ethical Arguments Off the Table Is Like A Soccer Team Unilaterally Taking The Goalie Out of the Net.
Many commentators to ClimateEthics argue that since people are self-interested beings, it is more important to make arguments in support of climate change based upon self-interest rather than ethical arguments. Some go so far to assert that people don't care about ethics and therefore only self-interest-based arguments should be used to convince people to enact domestic climate change legislation. In other words, they argue:"get real" only self-interest arguments matter.
In preparation for Fall Career Days at Penn State, we are publishing a five-part series retailed to the career-fair. Interviews can be stressful, especially for the first time. Many people feel that if they know the questions ahead of time, they’ll do a better job as they will be prepared. But is that really true? And, is knowing the questions ahead of time ethical or is it considered cheating?
Question: I pushed myself to apply to top companies for my summer internship. I was so excited to get an offer from Company A that I accepted the internship immediately fearing I might not get another offer. However, I just received an internship offer from Company B, which is my top choice. I would much rather work at Company B, but I’m concerned reneging on the original accepted offer from Company A could hurt future opportunities. Can I change my mind? I have not started working at Company A yet.
Spring is around the corner, and that means all kinds of worthwhile charity 5K races. Many of these races have a reasonably priced entrance fee, but they also encourage runners to raise money for the charity. What if you create a crowd-funding campaign to raise money for that charity and want to pay for the entrance fee from the money that was raised? Is that ethical? Today's column looks at this dilemma and offers some advice.
Caucus season is here. In picking the next POTUS, how do we choose well? Common criteria include candidates’ takes on specific issues, their ability to serve as commander in chief, and how we imagine they would navigate delicate international imbroglios. But what about ethical leadership? This week's column discusses what Plato and the power of invisibility can teach us about the role of ethical leadership in contemporary democracy.
In preparation for Fall Career Days at Penn State, we are publishing a five-part series retailed to the career-fair. In many cases, the résumé is your first point of contact with the employer. You know how important it is and you really want to stand out from the competition. Is it ethical to embellish or exaggerate a bit on your résumé?
As Election Day nears, voters are debating the qualities that make for an effective leader. One of these contested qualities is empathy: the ability to understand and resonate with the experiences of others. Does it matter if a President can relate to you and care about what you are going through?
Combat experience is sometimes difficult to talk about, especially for loved ones. Concerned parents want to learn more about their children’s time in the military, but many aren’t sure how to go about it. This week’s column helps explain why many veterans choose not to talk about their experiences and suggests that being there to listen, not asking, is the most ethical way to communicate with them.
Should someone be able to charge high prices for important medical information? Can one even own such knowledge? This week’s article shed’s some light on these questions by taking a look at whether or not it is ethical for an acupuncturist to charge other licensed acupuncturists a large sum of money to learn about key acupuncture points.
Serving safe and healthy food is a priority for the vast majority restaurateurs. But, sometimes the cost or lack of knowledge makes it difficult for chefs or owners to implement the necessary processes to ensure food safety standards are met. What happens if an employee of the restaurant notices a consistent lack of concern for food safety? Should the employee report it to the proper authorities, take action, or both?
In preparation for Fall Career Days at Penn State, we are publishing questions over the next week that will discuss internships, interviewing, résumés, and reference writing. This first question centers around writing reference letters. Most of us have either served as a reference for someone or asked someone to serve as a reference for us. But what happens when someone is asked to serve as a reference for a colleague or student and for whatever reason, the individual is not comfortable serving in this capacity? How should someone respond to the request?
In preparation for Fall Career Days at Penn State, we are publishing questions over the next week that will discuss internships, interviewing, résumés, and reference writing. This question centers around attendance at the career fair. It's a great moment when you finally get that first job or internship offer. It feels even better to formally accept the offer, feeling secure about that next step in your career. But what if that offer comes before a career fair and you accept? Is it ethical to still attend the fair and take up the time recruiters could be spending with other students?
In preparation for Fall Career Days at Penn State, we are publishing questions over the next week that will discuss internships, interviewing, résumés, and reference writing. This question centers around a job offer from an internship that didn't seem like the right fit. There are ethical implications in deciding whether to accept a job offer after completing an internship or co-op. Today, we discover what some of those issues might be and how to approach them.
We now have access to more information than we’ve ever had and it keeps growing by the minute. We can quickly pull up restaurant reviews, journal articles, and real-time weather within seconds from devices in our pockets. But what happens when you come across something online that you know to be incorrect because you spent your life researching that topic? Should you feel compelled to engage in this online discussion since you’re an expert with several related publications?
"Turn that music down!" is something many of us have heard from a neighbor or family member. In today's column, the ethicist takes a look at this predicament and offers some guidance on how to respond.
Expressions of patriotism can be important to the health of the nation and can serve as a rallying point for a diverse and multicultural nation. Equally important is the right to peaceful protest including the right to express opinions that some people might find antithetical to the nation. Recently this tension has come to the fore as athletes and other prominent public figures have begun silently protesting police abuses during the singing of the national anthem. This week’s column tackles this important issue.
The workplace should be an inclusive, safe and welcoming environment. But what happens if you feel discriminated against or someone who is known to discriminate or regularly uses offensive speech is promoted. How should you deal with this and what resources do you have at your disposal? This week’s column aims to offer some advice on the subject.
At the Paris Climate talks, global society agreed to pursue a rapid decarbonization of the global economy to cap total global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius. Such actions would prevent some dire effects of human-caused climate change. What are some of the ethical issues from global climate change?
The simplest definition of polio I could find (and that I trusted) was from PubMed: "Poliomyelitis is a viral disease that can affect nerves and can lead to partial or full paralysis." It is a disease I think many of us have heard about, but that I suspect many people don't know too much about. I don't, or didn't until I looked into it more.
Before world leaders gathered this week in New York at the United Nations to discuss climate change, two significant protests took place. On Sunday, September 21, the People’s Climate March, a big-tent protest uniting hundreds of NGOs, attracted a crowd of more than 300,000 to walk from 86th St. and Central Park West to 34th St. and 11th Ave. in Manhattan. The protest included Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio, UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon, and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. It is being billed as the largest climate protest in history.
How far should a doctor to go to address the health challenges of her patients? For Dr. Wendy Ring, a physician who has worked for decades caring for the medically underserved in Northern California, the answer is quite literally across the country – by bike.
Diversifying a Discipline - Penn State produced an unprecedented number of black, female Ph.D.s in philosophy
In 2015, Penn State produced an unprecedented number of black, female Ph.D.s in philosophy. Here’s how.
Two faculty members in the Penn State College of the Liberal Arts have been named Sherwin Early Career Professors in the college’s Rock Ethics Institute. Jeremy Engels now holds the title Sherwin Early Career Professor in the Rock Ethics Institute and associate professor of communication arts and sciences, while Bryan McDonald now holds the title Sherwin Early Career Professor in the Rock Ethics Institute and assistant professor of history. Both appointments are effective March 2016 and continue until June 30, 2018.
In mid-October, I traveled to New Orleans to give a paper at the International Association of Environmental Philosophy (IAEP). My paper, “Biopolitics, Race, and Global Population Control,” draws heavily on research I have conducted while at the Rock. The conference ran from the evening of October 25th through October 27th and included philosophers from a wide variety of traditions and trainings, as well as a number of non-philosophers interested in interdisciplinary work. IAEP has a relaxed and friendly atmosphere; the sessions are well-attended and encourage honest exchange.
After several years writing for Climate Ethics, our colleague Don Brown is relocating to Widener University School of Law, where he will continue his work on the ethical dimensions of climate change on the blog Ethics and Climate. We are thankful to Don for his many contributions to the work of the Rock Ethics Institute, we wish him well in his new position, and we look forward to benefitting from his continued analysis of these important issues
This is a guest post by Kristin Bergman, a moderator at the "Ethics of GMOs: A Panel Discussion" Research Ethics Lecture Series Event.
This is a guest post by Michael Rury, a moderator at the "Ethics of GMOs: A Panel Discussion" Research Ethics Lecture Series Event.
Andrew Rice has an excellent article that touches on many issues related to food ethics in the September 7 issue of the New York Times Magazine. In "The Peanut Solution," Rice describes the development of a highly nutritious peanut paste that has proven to be highly successful at addressing malnutrition in children. It is a product that is highly nutritious, does not need refrigeration, and allows home treatment of malnourished children (a big advantage over other treatment regimens that require lengthy and costly hospital stays). The product in question, Plumpy'nut, is one of a growing number of ready-to-use therapeutic foods (R.U.T.F.) that have garnered attention from health professionals, aid agencies, donors, and as Rice details, companies both big and small and for profit and not for profit.
Against the backdrop of growing environmental and societal concerns, restaurants may soon come to be judged not just by how good the food is, but also by how well the food waste is managed. America’s trend towards super-sizing does not seem to be slowing down. 16 oz soda cups, oversized dinner plates and even a single serving of ice cream at our beloved Berkey Creamery are a testimony to the food industry’s efforts to satisfy the customer with eye-pleasing amounts of her favourite treats. The health and body effects of the Gargantuan meals have long been at the center of public discourse, but the detrimental consequences of serving unmanageable portions go beyond individual consumers’ fitness and waistlines.
The fellows, Jeffery M. Catchmark, Rosemary Jolly, Sarah Clark Miller, and Amit Sharma, will help support initiatives that integrate curricular and research components by building interdisciplinary collaborations that will advance the Rock’s goal of integrating ethics into the Penn State curriculum.
One of the defining premises of any "free market" is that parties participate in transactions voluntarily. Shoving, imposing, and force--not allowed. Indeed, voluntary participation is a vital part of the justification--and defense--of free markets. Why are free markets supposedly "free"? Because people participate in transactions freely, voluntarily, as free human beings. Why are free markets considered beneficial? Because the outcomes are often beneficial to the participants and, often, to a broader community.
A trip to the local grocery store can challenging. There are so many choices! Shopping for fish, be it tuna or salmon, fresh or canned, is further complicated by the labels "farm-raised," or "wild-caught," and stickers of origin.
So, I wonder what my grandma would have to say about climate change? It seems like such a huge, overwhelming problem. The scientists’ predictions are dire: we have only ten years to turn our emissions around. I guess she’d say “when you’ve got too much to do, just pick something up and start doing it!”
Guest Post: Rock Ethics Institute Research Ethics Lecture on Postwar NIH Research Ethos and the Guatemala STD Experiments
By Kayte Spector-Bagdady* This piece, which originally appeared on the blog of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, has been reposted with permission.
This guest post is written by Cara McDonald, a 2015 Stand Up Award recipient. You can see more of her story at www.StandUpPSU.com. My motivation to help Haiti is driven by an undeniable passion to see the country and the Haitian people reach their full potential. I envision a day where children are lifted out of poverty, mothers and fathers are able to care for their families and the country is not known for its poverty, but for its beauty and prosperity. This passion did not come from reading about poverty or seeing it on TV, but from witnessing it, feeling it and taking action against it.
The big political news over the past few weeks has been the shutdown of the federal government. One of the small footnotes to this latest national political circus was the cancellation of a scheduled trip President Obama was going to make to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, which concluded Oct 7.
It is time once again for an installment of IP's greatest hits, a look back at significant developments in the history of intellectual property institutions that have had a profound effect on the world, as well as IP theory and policy.
Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy of President Obama's signature on the Affordable Care Act. As the landmark Affordable Care Act prepares to begin enrolling Americans in health insurance on Oct 1, news accounts are focusing either on the confusion and glitches that inevitably accompany rollout of a program of this scale and complexity, or the way that “Obamacare” has become the focal point in the latest round of brinksmanship over the federal budget. But against news of uncertainty about and political conflict over the Act, I want to assert that there is an underlying ethical clarity to this issue: providing access to affordable health care is a moral obligation.
New York Times Krugman Claims That US Congressional Hearings Are A Moral Failure: The US Congress and The Ethics of Willful Ignorance.
In an April 4, 2011 New York Times op-ed entitled "The Truth, Still Inconvenient," Paul Krugman charged that Republican led climate change hearings that had just concluded were a deep moral failure. (Krugman, 2011) Krugman described the GOP US House of Representatives hearings at which of five invited witnesses on climate change, one was a lawyer, another an economist, and a third a professor of marketing---witnesses without any expertise in climate change science. One of the witnesses that was actually a scientist was expected to support the skeptical position but surprised everyone by supporting the mainstream scientific view on the amount of warming that the world has already experienced. Yet he was immediately attacked by climate skeptics.
As one of the two public talks that preceded the recent Sustainability Ethics Conference at Penn State University Park, Nigel Dower presented a paper that highlighted the relationship between sustainability and cosmopolitanism. (Cosmopolitanism can be crudely broken down in terms of the following: Cosmos = cosmos, whole world, and polis = citizen, people, such that one is considered not simply as a citizen of a particular nation state but as a global citizen, a "citizen of the world.") The key point of Dower's talk was that there is a global dimension in most of the ways we talk about sustainability, even if it is usually working only in the background of our research as an orientational concept. Smaller projects, such as sustainable forestry, sustainable development, and sustainable tourism, already contain a more global, more cosmopolitan consideration of sustainability for the planet and all those who live on it. His thesis, then, is that sustainability requires cosmopolitanism as a necessary, but not a sufficient, condition. Cosmopolitanism is an ethically adequate basis for sustainability.
The Rock Ethics Institute at Penn State announces a call for nominations for its ninth annual Stand Up Awards in recognition of undergraduate students at the University’s campuses who have demonstrated ethical leadership in taking a stand for a person, cause or belief. The goal of the award is to recognize courageous individuals and to inform the entire Penn State community about how often the extraordinary act is possible in ordinary circumstances.
On The Moral Imperatives Of Speaking Publicly About the Ethical Dimensions of Climate Change-And How It Must Be Done.
One of the great privileges of writing ClimateEthics is that it exposes the writer to the good, bad, and ugly of climate change arguments being made around the world. Actually quite frequently we receive thoughtful comments that force us to go a little deeper and in some cases correct mistakes or correct reasonable misinterpretations. Often we get inspiring comments.
What do Angelina Jolie, Breast Cancer Screening, and the Myriad Genetics Case Have in Common?
Penn State already boasts world-class researchers on climate change, but can we also become a leader in reducing our own greenhouse gas emissions? How can Penn State best prepare our students to face the challenges ahead of them? These were the questions posed to seventy-five participants at the Penn State Getting to Zero conference held at the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center on April 11, 2014.
The Rock Ethics Institute at Penn State welcomes three new core faculty members in ethical research: C. Daryl Cameron (Psychology), Joshua F.J. Inwood (Geography), and Alan R. Wagner (Aerospace Engineering). These faculty members will help strengthen an interdisciplinary community of scholars and educators from across the University and they are committed to enhancing Penn State’s curriculum and research expertise in ethics.
Announcement of voluntary recalls prompted by food safety concerns have become increasingly familiar. In 2006, there were E. coli O157 infections from fresh spinach. In 2007, contamination of pet food by melamine sickened or killed an unknown number of pets and animals and presaged a much larger issue with melamine contamination of milk that impacted China and other countries in 2008. Then there was the outbreak of salmonella infections associated with peanut butter in 2008-2009.
Ted Toadvine, professor of philosophy and environmental studies at the University of Oregon, has been named director of the Rock Ethics Institute at Penn State. Toadvine’s tenure as director will begin in January 2017.
Yes, and for several reasons. To begin with it is important to recognize that while we share the earth, ocean waters, and atmosphere with the rest of humanity, and while societies around the globe must cooperate in order to effectively respond to the dangers and even existential threat of climate change, our different cultures have conditioned us to experience natural phenomena and to understand the relation between humans and (the rest of) nature in different ways. Our artistic, scientific, philosophical, and religious traditions shape the ways in which we conceive of and perceive nature.
Stopping the Worst Environmental Disaster?: An Ethical and Scientific Comparison of the Gulf Oil Spill and Climate Change.
Over the last two months the U.S. Congress has been engaged in a great operatic drama over what many have called the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history: the BP Gulf oil spill. Last week U.S Congressman angrily grilled BP CEO Tony Hayward about the causes of the disaster and BPs inability to shut off the oil flow. As this took place, the brown and orange slick continued its daily assault on fisheries, birds, and livelihoods.
The aim of this blog series is to reflect on sustainable living practices that will inspire change in us.
The Death of Rails-to-Trails? A Land Ethic Look at Marvin M. Brandt Revocable Trust vs. United States
If you’re a State College runner, chances are that you’ve taken advantage of the Bellefonte Central Rail Trail, which connects the Penn State arboretum to the Toftrees area trails.
Earlier this month, the United States Academy of Science issued its most recent report on the science of climate change that once again concluded that human-induced climate change was a very serious threat to humans and ecological systems around the world. This Report was entitled "America's Climate Choices 2011" (US Academy, 2011) Among other conclusions, this report found:
Although the US media has recently paid attention to the comparatively minor ethical stories unfolding in the US House of Representatives, there is not a peep in the US media about a much more momentous unfolding ethical failure in the US Senate. While many press stories have appeared in the past few week about potential ethical problems of Representatives Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters in the House, ethical lapses that harm society because public servants may have abused their power in ways that enrich themselves or their families, the US Senate ethical failure is more ethically reprehensible because it is depriving tens of millions of people around the world of life itself or the natural resources necessary to sustain life. The failure in the US Senate to enact legislation to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions is a moral lapse of epic proportions. Yet it is not discussed this way.
Penn State students Alanna Kaiser, Nathan Larkin, and Jaden Rankin-Wahlers are being honored respectively for their work in social & environmental justice; organizing efforts to address climate change; and combatting stigmas associated with poverty and homelessness.
It is my pleasure to welcome you back to another exciting year at the Rock Ethics Institute. This coming year promises to be a busy but also a creative and hope inspiring one for all of us at the Rock and the University Community in general.
On September 26th, the Rock Fellows Seminar discussed the essay "What Food is "Good" for You? Toward a Pragmatic Consideration of Multiple Values Domains" by Donald Thompson and Bryan McDonald. The goal of this paper, as articulated by its authors, is to lay out our food values without taking a normative stance, to map out the various ways (in three value domains) that we think about food and goodness to encourage self reflection and open areas for research and policy needs. The role of self-reflection, as a key means of spurring decisions about food, was a main point of discussion during the seminar.
How can you move from ethical awareness to ethical action? The Rock Ethics Institute at Penn State can help guide you and give you some tools to help in both your professional and personal lives.
Now, I know next to nothing about Judaism or even what the word kosher means. Some cursory research on the internet led me to Judaism 101: Kashrut: Jewish Dietary Laws. There I learned that kosher in fact does NOT mean a rabbi blesses food, but in fact IS a set of rules about what foods should and should not be eaten as well as how these foods should be kept and prepared. After reading through the site and seeing the lists and rules explained, I thought I would at least be prepared enough to go to Popper's talk and sort of understand it on an elementary level. Honestly, though, I was a little worried it would all be over my head
Like many of you, I've been following discussions of Gov. Corbett's proposed budget cuts fairly closely over the last week. My focus has been on trying to understand the line of reasoning that leads us from a claim around which there is general consensus ('Pennsylvania is in financial trouble') to a claim that is highly controversial ('The proper response to this trouble involves cutting the appropriation to Penn State by roughly 52%'). I am well aware that in admitting that, despite the effort I have put in, I still haven't grasped the connection between these claims, I run the risk of coming off as politically and economically naive. That's a risk I am willing to take, however, because I think the obstacles I have encountered in my attempts might deserve a bit more attention than they are currently getting.