Articles on Ethics

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One of the self-drive cars already being used by Google in Nevada, in the US. EPA/Google

Self-driving cars need ‘adjustable ethics’ set by owners

One of the issues of self-driving vehicles is legal liability for death or injury in the event of an accident. If the car maker programs the car so the driver has no choice, is it likely the company could…
YouTube footage of a man kicking a squirrel off a cliff has prompted outrage, yet we all need to stop and think about how we treat animals. YouTube

Outcry over squirrel kicker, yet disrespecting animals is the norm

An online video apparently showing a French tourist kicking a squirrel off a cliff in Grand Canyon National Park was greeted with horror and incredulity after being posted (and since removed) on YouTube…
Despite claims of independence, academics that work closely with industry often have their views unconsciously shaped. Fellowship of the Rich/Flickr

Academics on the payroll: the advertising you don’t see

In the endless drive to get people’s attention, advertising is going ‘native’, creeping in to places formerly reserved for editorial content. In this Native Advertising series we find out what it looks…
US army ‘deserter’ Bowe Bergdahl had deep and abiding questions about the justice of the cause he signed up for. EPA/IntelCenter

Deserters aren’t born, but made: Bowe Bergdahl and moral injury

The public debate around the recent prisoner swap that saw US Army sergeant Bowe Bergdahl returned from five years’ imprisonment in Afghanistan in exchange for five senior Taliban leaders has had two main…
Three in four Australians see aid to help the world’s most vulnerable poor as a simple human priority. Their government has a different view of the aid program. Julien Harneis/Flickr

Why not cut aid? Let us count the ethical reasons, just for a start

Major changes have been made recently to Australia’s official aid program. Funding has been cut sharply. Australia’s aid agency AusAID has been absorbed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and…
Genetics is just the latest specialist knowledge threatening to take the question of criminal responsibility away from law and hand it over to science. Graham/Flickr

Genes made me do it: genetics, responsibility and criminal law

Welcome to Biology and Blame, a series of articles examining historical and current influences on the notion of criminal responsibility. Today, Arlie Loughnan considers the challenge to the legal system…
The ancient philosophers knew the perils of expecting other people to complete us emotionally. Candybox Images/Shutterstock

Love problems? There’s a pill for that, but Plato offers a wiser cure

We take pills and potions for everything from a bad back to depression. Why shouldn’t we adopt the same approach to love and the miseries it may cause? Oxford ethicist Brian Earp has proposed that we should…
Self-interest and greed drive the decision-making of too many of the professional classes who most influential global policies. www.shutterstock.com

Want ethical responses to a world of trouble? Focus on character

We read a lot these days about corruption, self-interest and personal tragedies. The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for the first time explicitly considers climate change…
The university was worried the student would not practice medicine safely even if she completed her degree. Jack Hynes/ Flickr

A fine balance: disability, discrimination and public safety

A recent discrimination case has highlighted the difficulty of balancing the rights of disabled medical students with the rights of the community to safe medical and health care. In the BKY v The University…
We live in an era when chronically ill people are exposed to technological interventions that may not serve them well. Carlos Fonseca/Flickr

How do we decide the value of death (and life)?

Allowing people with incurable and unsupportable illness to die is ethically acceptable to most people, even though it’s unlikely there will ever be unanimity about when and how we allow such deaths. But…
Your robot’s decisions will be less of a shock if you plan ahead. x-ray delta one

If you want to trust a robot, look at how it makes decisions

Robots, and autonomous systems in general, can cause anxiety and uncertainty, particularly as their use in everyday tasks becomes a more immediate possibility. In order to lessen at least some of that…
Research of supplements already in the market has no incentive for robustness. Health Gauge/Flickr

Alternative medicine research must be publicly funded

TESTING ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES - La Trobe University’s decision to accept funding from Swisse for a new centre to research alternative medicines has sparked controversy. This article considers the ethical…
Should artists refuse to work with the Sydney Biennale – whose major sponsor has contracts to operate offshore detention centres? AAP Image/Caris Bizzaca

Should artists boycott the Sydney Biennale over Transfield links?

Sydney will host its 19th biennale from March 21. It’s one of the most significant international art events on the local calendar. But questions have arisen over its connection to Australia’s policy of…
Is it worse to be hated or forgotten as a reality-show contestant? Courtesy of Seven Network

My Kitchen Rules pair are all the rage on social media – for now

The launch of the current series of My Kitchen Rules has undoubtedly been successful, both in terms of television ratings and in capturing a social media audience, clearly winning the battle for the Twitter…
A $15 million deal between Swisse Wellness Pty Ltd and La Trobe University has prompted Ken Harvey’s resignation. lucy was here/Flickr (resized)

Academics back professor over Swisse research collaboration

Friends of Science in Medicine, an association that lobbies for evidence-based medicine, has called on La Trobe University…
Schapelle Corby remains behind bars – but Channel 9 is spruiking its telemovie about her time in jail in Indonesia. AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

Did she do it? The ethics of the Schapelle Corby telemovie

However 4.2 kilograms of marijuana made its way into Indonesia in a body board bag in 2004, the story of Schapelle Corby’s arrest, conviction and subsequent jailing for drug smuggling is known by every…

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