Adventures in Ethics and Science

Archives for August, 2006

Review of Remember Me

A couple years ago, I taught a freshman seminar class called “Matters of Life and Death”. In the course, we looked at philosophy, anthropology, medical ethics, literature, and film to try to get some insight to how our awareness that our lives are finite influences how we live those lives and how we understand what…

Suddenly your inbox is overflowing with messages from people you’ve never met expressing their intense interest in your subject. And, driving across town in the morning takes twice as long as it did just a month ago. And, your laptop takes a tumble and breaks a hinge. Plus, the photocopier at work seems to be…

Thanks to all readers who responded with suggestions as to what my students should call me. As a number of you pointed out, what I choose here isn’t just a matter of local custom (there seems not to be a unified custom on this at my university), nor of personal comfort (for me or my…

It seems the IAU ruling on what counts as a planet has stirred a little controversy in the Free-Ride home. Dr. Free-Ride: You heard what happened with Pluto, right? Younger offspring: It’s not there any more. Dr. Free-Ride: Uh, it’s still there, just as big as it was and pretty much where it was before.…

OK, it’s the time of the semester when I get a bazillion emails from students enrolled in my classes, and students trying to enroll in my classes, and assorted others. And, the emailers each choose a manner of address out of thin air, since usually they haven’t met me yet and have no idea how…

Because Shelley asked (and Josh, Mike, Chad, Nick, PZ, and John have all posted answers), I’m going to chime in. Shelley asks: Are you for or against the death penalty, or (if it’s conditional), in what cases? Furthermore, do you believe that societies that sanction war are hypocritical for opposing the death penalty? Rather than…

Review of Coming to Life

Like a bunch of my ScienceBlogs SiBlings, I read Christiane N├╝sslein-Volhard’s book, Coming to Life: How Genes Drive Development. As I am not a trained biologist of any stripe (and haven’t been enrolled in a biology course since the 1980s), I’ll give you my impressions of the book from the point of view of a…

As I noted earlier, the population density in my office at school decreased enough to free up some room for a couch. The original plan had been to adopt an ugly orange love seat from a colleague’s apartment, but it looks like the UOLS will be going in his office, since the couch he was…

Robert Fludd, “The Great Chain of Being”, 1617 Maybe you’re familiar with the classical notion of the “great chain of being”, the hierarchical relationship between all the stuff in the universe. It was meant to show the connections between animals (including humans), vegetables, minerals, and the stuff out beyond the Earth, including angels and God.…

Elder offspring: Blood is cool. Younger offspring: (Covering head with blanket) I hate blood, because I hate owies! Dr. Free-Ride: But your blood does all sorts of good things for your body. You know that you’re filled with blood, right? Elder offspring: Actually, your body is two-thirds water. Dr. Free-Ride: And what do you think…