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Robert Frodeman Former Professor of Philosophy. University of North Texas.
- Ethics and Science: An Introduction
- Introductory Text Answers the Question “Why Does Scientific Ethics Matter?”
- A Rich Bioethics: Public Policy, Biotechnology, and the Kass Council
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Ethics and Science: An Introduction
Professional Ethics Report PER , which has been in publication since , reports on news and events, programs and activities, and resources related to professional ethics issues, with a particular focus on those professions whose members are engaged in scientific research and its applications.
Each quarterly issue is comprised of a cover story addressing one particular issue or event, sometimes written by an expert outside the AAAS; a series of timely, in the news stories; brief updates from the societies; and useful resources and announcements.
PER was first published on the web in the Spring of Archives of Professional Ethics Report are available here. This newsletter may be reproduced without permission as long as proper acknowledgement is given. ISSN: Jessica Wyndham , J. The lead article in the Fall issue of the Professional Ethics Report PER brought to this audience a human right that was largely unknown and wholly undefined, the right to "enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications.
That, however, is not the case. A deeper investigation reveals important developments at the domestic and international levels as well as the recent engagement of key constituencies. Together, these elements have the potential to push the process forward of defining and applying the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress. Article 27 of the UDHR recognized for the first time a right to "share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
The significance of this right is potentially great: it is unique in embracing scientists and the scientific enterprise as subjects of specific human rights concern; it speaks to broad science literacy as an imperative underlying both individual autonomy as well as public participation in decision-making on issues related to science; it emphasizes the importance of international scientific cooperation both to strengthen scientific research as well as ensure sharing of knowledge, expertise, and products with resource-poor countries; and it underpins many other human rights that depend on science and technology to be fully realized.
Despite the potential significance of the right, for decades it remained neglected by the treaty-monitoring body responsible for its interpretation and implementation.
As a result, the countries that were legally bound to fulfill the right and report on their compliance with the right in accordance with their obligations under the treaty routinely failed to do so. It similarly received very limited attention from the human rights community and even less from the scientific and engineering communities. In , the situation began to change: the American Association for the Advancement of Science AAAS created a project aimed at engaging the US scientific community in the process of defining and implementing the right; and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization UNESCO began a three-year process of conceptualizing the right, involving lawyers, ethicists, academics and some human rights practitioners.
By , when the original PER article on this subject was written, there were just four principal points of consensus. First, realization of the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications is necessary for the fulfillment of several other rights. Second, the right also has meaning and value independent of other human rights.
Third, the right requires governments to implement special measures necessary to address the needs of disadvantaged and marginalized groups. Finally, scientific freedom is an essential element of the right. The contours of the analysis at this point were very broad and the level of analysis quite shallow.
In the intervening four years, that has changed. Possibly the most important development of the past few years has been the active engagement of the scientific and engineering communities in the process of defining the right. In April , the AAAS Board of Directors adopted a statement on the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress, recognizing the right as vital to the mission of the organization and undertaking to engage the scientific community in the process of defining the right with the goal of bringing the perspectives of scientists to the on-going UN process .
A multi-disciplinary network of scientific and engineering membership organizations that recognize a role for scientists and engineers in human rights, the Coalition undertook to gather the perspectives of its members and others on the meaning of the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress.
Over the course of 18 months, the Coalition held 16 disciplinary-specific focus groups involving almost individuals. The findings of this process will be presented to the UN later in As the scientific community has become increasingly engaged in defining the right to benefit from scientific progress, the community of academics and practitioners concerned with intellectual property IP , bioethics and access has started to incorporate this right into their discourse.
A relatively large, active, vocal and strategically savvy community, often in the past experts in this field have shied away from tying their advocacy for greater access to claims to human rights, judging that recourse to human rights language is either strategically weak or too political. That has changed, as recent literature in the field reflects .
As recently as June 25, a treaty granting blind persons access to published works was negotiated at the World Intellectual Property Organization . The second and third preambular paragraphs clearly reflect the language of the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress. Affecting change at the international level is a less dynamic and markedly more gradual process than engaging other constituencies. However, in an important step was taken. The right to benefit from scientific progress was put firmly on the agenda of the UN Human Rights Council with the presentation by Farida Shaheed, Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, of a report specifically on the right.
This report represented the first time the right had been addressed by the Council and presented a valuable opportunity for moving forward our understanding of the right while identifying key questions remaining to be addressed.
Building existing literature and debate, the Special Rapporteur identified four core components of the right: access by everyone without discrimination to the benefits of science and its applications, including scientific knowledge; opportunities for all to contribute to the scientific enterprise and the freedom indispensable for scientific research; participation of individuals and communities in decision-making about science; and development of an enabling environment fostering the conservation, development and diffusion of science and technology.
As Audrey Chapman and I recently discussed in a Science article focused on the Special Rapporteur's report , several questions were raised that require further consideration: What kind of infrastructure and policies are required to implement the right? What means of outreach and education would best enable public engagement in decision-making about science and technology?
What is the precise scope of the international community's responsibility to provide assistance and technology transfer to resource-poor countries? How can the balance between IP protections and the right be achieved? While we are still far from finding answers to these questions, that the discussion has begun and continues is essential. An unexpected participant in discussions about the meaning and application of the right to benefit from scientific progress has been key institutions in the United States US.
Yet, the human rights principles enshrined in the treaty and particularly the right to benefit from scientific progress have found their way into at least two recent statements concerning scientific research and technological development. In December , the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues presented its findings on the case involving the deliberate infection with sexually transmitted diseases of individuals in Guatemala.
In its report, Moral Science: Protecting Participants in Human Subjects Research , the Commission made explicit reference to the ICESCR among other human rights instruments, emphasizing the need to consider the implications for human rights and human dignity in the design and implementation of scientific research studies .
In an explicit reliance on the right to benefit from science, then Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner gave a presentation in October to an audience principally of scientists on Science and Academic Freedom in the Digital Age .
Posner's remarks were framed in terms of Article 27 of the UDHR for which he offered his own interpretation, emphasizing the freedom to seek, receive and impart information about scientific progress, to ensure access to the benefits of science and technology without discrimination, and the need to ensure scientific advances are not used to commit human rights abuses.
Posner closed his remarks with a summary of "hard issues" that remained to be tackled, including identifying funding and research priorities that reflect societal needs; ensuring quality science education at all levels; removing barriers to scientific freedom; and encouraging international cooperation and the free flow of scientific knowledge. Progress is steady and the purpose is clear: build a constituency, identify points of consensus and then focus on the challenging conceptual issues at the core of the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress.
Over the past four years, as a constituency has grown that has interest in defining the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress a clear consensus has developed about core elements of the right.
Now the greater challenge exists to grapple with the difficult conceptual questions that have been identified, including in my previous article, in the report of the Special Rapporteur and by Michael Posner. It is in finding an answer to these questions that the real significance and contribution of the right to benefit from scientific progress will be identified.
Two upcoming opportunities exist to address these questions: the first is a meeting of the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition on July 11 which is explicitly focused on addressing the challenging conceptual questions at the heart of the right to benefit from scientific progress ; and the second is a meeting planned in October by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights which will follow-up on the Human Rights Council's consideration of this topic in Every opportunity has to be taken to move beyond accepted understandings of the relationship between science and human rights and to move forward in defining the right to benefit from scientific progress.
Without a clear understanding of the meaning of the right, implementation is not possible and the promise offered by this right will be lost. Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. December He's one of the co-sponsors of the StopWatching. Us campaign, which has brought together over organizations and has collected , signatures in support of openness for government surveillance.
The recent news about the extent to which the US government is monitoring the communications, online interactions and activities of American citizens brings into question our ethical responsibilities as privacy professionals.
All of the companies caught up in the news that complied with secret court orders to hand over bulk user data have privacy officers and dedicated teams of privacy professionals. Yet the extent to which any of these privacy teams were involved or were aware of these orders is unclear. This simple irony provokes reflection on the role of privacy professionals and our associated ethical and social responsibilities.
The role of the privacy professional has evolved over the past decade in response to the many ways personal information and data shape all dimensions of public, business and social interactions.
We're specialized advocates for our organization's data subjects - users, consumers, employees, citizens. We work across business and IT functions to establish best practices and policies and to ensure compliance with hundreds of standards and laws governing how our organizations collect, use and safeguard personal data. In some sectors, we're also integral to business and product strategy.
Today, privacy professionals aren't licensed to practice and there's no standard ethical code of conduct to which we must adhere. However, privacy professionals are often members of other professions that are bound by standards of practice that include confidentiality and data protection. For instance, those who are lawyers must respect client confidentiality. Others who are healthcare professionals are bound by standards of patient confidentiality, and there are numerous codes of conduct for technologists that set forth norms for privacy and security.
We're obliged to honor commitments to data subjects about the specific information-handling practices and protections we set forth in notices, policies and other statements. It's also our responsibility to write these notices, policies and statements plainly and in a way that's not misleading. To the extent we work in jurisdictions with constitutional protections for privacy, we have ethical responsibilities to respect those.
We're certainly bound to comply with the laws, regulations, contractual obligations and legal requirements pertaining to our organizations - to the extent that they are consistent with generally accepted standards of justice and human rights. It's tempting to say that the US government is targeting individuals whose activities are unlawful or suspicious, and therefore our responsibilities related to the privacy of their data fall outside ethical or legal norms. But this is a slippery slope, and difficult to justify in the context of bulk orders for a company's data.
As privacy professionals, do we have ethical obligations to the people whose data are our professional responsibility, or only to our employers? How do we handle conflicts of loyalty that arise? Does public safety trump privacy in every case and in any circumstances? Do we have obligations to report - even secretly, under legal requirements - our objections? As one prominent leader in our community told me, "We should be committed to the welfare of our data subjects through a sworn oath that commits us to our principles in some binding manner.
For many, though, it's the paycheck that binds. For that reason, I'm appealing to all of our colleagues to weigh in on this discussion. For my next post, I will incorporate the ideas generated here and develop a draft code of ethics for further debate. It's vital that our profession be on the forefront of the public debate about balancing rights to privacy with needs for safety and security.
Reporter-source confidentiality or attorney-client privilege strengthen the institutions within which those professions operate, and we have to use this moment to develop similar frameworks for our profession and the people whose data we protect. The UK is on a mission to halt offenses to scientific integrity as increasing reports of scientific misconduct threaten public support of science and the potential benefits from the field.
In order to qualify for funding, universities will now be required to comply with the Concordat to Support Research Integrity. Additionally, a June meeting among the top UK funding bodies will further establish rules for policing British scientists by defining what evidence will be required to guarantee that research is reliable. A recent article in The Independent also stated that, "Britain's leading science institutions will be told on Monday that they will be stripped of many millions of pounds in research grants if they employ rogue researchers who fake the results of experiments.
Retractions of scientific articles, due to both error and misconduct, have been increasing. While there were only about 30 retractions annually in the early s, in alone, there were over . Other incidents have also made a lasting impression, including sharp declines in vaccinations and subsequent epidemics of measles and mumps, which occurred after Andrew Wakefield claimed that there was an association between the MMR vaccine and autism.
Wakefield's article was later retracted due to misconduct and numerous reports have since found no correlation between MMR vaccines and autism . Additionally, the UK recently saw the incarceration of their first scientist earlier this year when Steven Eaton was jailed for three months for falsifying data in an anti-cancer drug trial .
Introductory Text Answers the Question “Why Does Scientific Ethics Matter?”
He was scientific director of the 4TU. Centre for Ethics and Technology In his research, Philip Brey investigates ethical aspects of emerging technologies, with a particular focus on information technology, robotics, biomedical technology and environmental technologies. He has developed major new approaches in ethics of information technology, including the anticipatory technology ethics ATE approach for assessing ethical implications of new and emerging technologies, the disclosive computer ethics approach for studying values in design, and new approaches for studying the implications of technology for well-being. He has been the first, or amongst the first, to do thorough academic studies of the ethical implications of emerging technologies like the World Wide Web, virtual reality technology, ambient intelligence, facial recognition systems, and 3D printing.
in this web service Cambridge University Press. Cambridge University Press. - Ethics and Science: An Introduction. Adam Briggle and Carl.
A Rich Bioethics: Public Policy, Biotechnology, and the Kass Council
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Ethics and Science: An Introduction is a timely publication focused on an issue that deserves attention. Briggle and Mitcham developed this book to stimulate critical thinking and to help scientists understand that ethics not only plays a central role in science but also that science influences ethics. The book can be used as a guide for scientists to make good judgments about what is acceptable and not acceptable in science. It can also help scientists determine how they want to see their discipline develop in the future in light of scientific discoveries and technological advancements in an increasingly global environment. The authors point out that ethics is more than theory and analysis.
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