Articles on Ethics

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While the NSA leaks keep coming, major email providers have tightened up security. But is encryption completely beneficial? mrbill78636

Encryption ethics: are email providers responsible for privacy?

Ex-National Security Agency (NSA) employee Edward Snowden’s various leaks – the most recent being a slide showing that the NSA infected 50,000 of computer networks with remote-controlled spyware – confirm…
A large proportion of drug trial data never gets published, skewing our picture of drugs’ effectiveness and safety. opensource.com

Making all clinical data public is vital for better medical care

An article published in the journal of the British Medical Association, BMJ, earlier this week illustrates a devastating problem with the “evidence base” in the academic medical literature. A large proportion…
Tobacco use causes more than five million deaths every year across the world. MilitaryHealth/Flickr

Medical journals refuse to publish tobacco-funded research

Editors of journals published by the BMJ Group will no longer consider publishing research that is partly or wholly funded…
If it’s common practice to pay bribes for contracts, is it alright? Not quite. Sigurd Rage

‘Local business practice’ doesn’t justify unethical behaviour

You’d have thought corporate executives in a post-GFC world would have learnt, the hard way, the relevance of ethical behaviour. So it may come as a surprise that in a recent survey by Ernst & Young…
If a comet was heading for earth, would you just go about your life? Mark Mathosian

A question of ethics: journalists and climate change

Breaking news: scientists have discovered a comet that will collide with Earth in 30 years. Its impact will be devastating, killing millions, flooding coastal cities and disrupting civilisation as we know…
The scandal started with allegations that GlaxoSmithKline had made illegal payments to doctors and government officials. Ian Wilson

China’s pharma scandal and the ethics of the global drug market

China is in the midst of conducting a series of corruption investigations of pharmaceutical companies that have been operating in the country. It all started with the investigation of officials from pharmaceutical…
The recent tobacco tax rise showed the usual entrenched positions of public health advocates and libertarians. Nick|Allen/Flickr

Slurs aside, let’s talk about the ethics of public health measures

Predictable positions followed the recent announcement of an increase in tobacco tax by 12.5% a year for four years. Public health advocates praised the tax, labelling those questioning it as “tobacco…
Where does the Australian ‘fear’ of asylum seekers arriving by boat come from? AAP/Scott Fisher

Drowning mercy: why we fear the boats

There’s a Latin word: misericordia. It’s usually translated “mercy” or “pity”. Thomas Aquinas took misericordia to be a kind of grief at the suffering of others as if that suffering were our own. Alasdair…
Damien Hirst has always made ripples with his work, but now he’s in too deep. PA

Damien Hirst insults the dignity of the dead

Is it right to use the severed head of a newly dead man as a humourous prop for a photograph? And if such a snap exists is it right to display it in art galleries? A photograph of artist Damien Hirst at…
There could be good moral reasons to reject an opt-out organ donation system, but we’d better be clear about what they are. Shutterstock

Opt-out organ donation in Wales: a model for Australia?

The National Assembly of Wales has legislated to introduce an “opt-out” system for human organ and tissue transplantation, which will come into effect in 2015. In doing so, Wales joins a host of other…
Wheat-free: fields full of quick-growing miscanthus grass, an energy-rich biofuel. Andrew Parsons/PA

Food first, fuel second is the UN’s message on biofuels

Critics of the conversion of plants into biofuel have long argued that it is an issue of food versus fuel‎, and a recent UN report gives some weight to their argument. Since the amount of maize needed…
Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas or the ethical underpinning of self-regulation. AAP/RSPCA

Ethics is a jealous God: self-regulation vs self-sacrifice

Late one night recently I got a very frustrated email from a close friend. He’d just spent the evening arguing with investors about whether they needed to take ethics into account in their investment decisions…
Misplaced faith in the possibility of risk-free warfare may end up putting more lives at risk. L.C.Nøttaasen

Lethal autonomous robots must be stopped in their tracks

The topic of killer robots was drawn back into the public sphere last week with the widely publicised call for a moratorium on the development and use of “lethal autonomous robotics” by a top UN human…
There is mounting evidence that babies might have more of a moral compass than we once thought. Baby image from www.shutterstock.com

Young morals: can infants tell right from wrong?

Psychologists from Yale and the University of British Columbia think they have found a way to show that infants in their first year of life possess the psychological building blocks of a moral sense. These…
Every day around three Australian families face an end-of-life decision for their child. Image from shutterstock.com

Navigating the grey zone in end-of-life care for children

Recently on The Conversation, legal academic Neera Bhatia drew attention to two recent Australian court cases of withdrawing of life-saving medical treatment from infants with severe brain damage. She…
Doctors and sports scientists have to negotiate the goals of their employers with the expectations of their profession. Quinn Dombrowski

Embedded sports scientists and doctors walk an ethical tightrope

The Australian Crime Commission (ACC) findings about the actions of “specific coaches, sports scientists and high-performance staff” in condoning or orchestrating the administration of prohibited substances…
Researchers decoded the whole mitochondrial DNA of five Neanderthal men, one of whom belonged to the El Sidron site (pictured) in Asturias, northern Spain, in 2009. EPA/CSIC

Caveman ethics? The rights and wrongs of cloning Neanderthals

It now appears that the scientist who seemed to be advocating that we clone Neanderthals was suggesting only that “we need to start talking about it.” Ethics is an essential part of such a conversation…
Drugs treat symptoms but do nothing to help people navigate depression. Shutterstock

Treating depression ethically requires more than drugs

Spot the problem in this scenario. Richard* is stressed. While he’s a high-flyer (a Rhodes Scholar no less), he’s under the pump at work and has just moved his family across nations. The job is taking…

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