Adventures in Ethics and Science

Archives for November, 2007

A bonus sprog blog! Somehow, this has become cheating week, and this conversation feels like it fits in with our discussions of how do-gooders do bad and of how freshman engineering students think about cheating. * * * * * Dr. Free-Ride: (arriving to pick up the sprogs from the afterschool program) Hey, gather up…

Dr. Free-Ride: C’mon and get out of bed. We have to leave soon. Younger offspring: My eyes are watery. Dr. Free-Ride: Eyes will do that sometimes. Younger offspring: Are my eyeballs always wet? Dr. Free-Ride: Pretty much, yeah. Younger offspring: Are my eyeballs always squishy?

Do you know that feeling one gets that is characteristic of “about to come down with something”, where you have an off taste in your mouth and your head feels fuzzy, and it seems like the very best thing you could possibly do is just lay your head on your desk for a few moments…

In the freshman introduction to engineering class, where I am teaching the ethics module, the students have electronic clickers with which to respond in real time to (multiple choice) questions posed to them in lecture. I took advantage of this handy technology to get their responses to a few questions on cheating. I’m presenting the…

As promised, I want to take a look at this article (discussed also at Corpus Callosum). I’m not a psychologist, so I won’t have much to say about what causes might underlie the phenomenon of do-gooders doing bad. However, I will have some words (from the point of view of someone concerned with practical ethics)…

This is not breaking news (unless your news cycle is more geological), but it strikes me as relevant on the day that I deliver my penultimate lecture in the newly-created ethics module in the Introduction to Engineering class at my university: Can you trust an ethicist to behave ethically?

This New York Times op-ed, to be precise. My questions for Paul Davies can be boiled down to these two: What kinds of explanations, precisely, are you asking science to deliver to you? Just why do you think it is the job of science to provide such explanations?

Freud would probably say that there are times when a hand-turkey is just a hand-turkey. Freud, however, isn’t writing this post. Would this kind of plumage only work on a domesticated bird? (What kind of ecosystem would make such wild feathers an advantage for any bird but one widely recognized to be yucky tasting?)

A comment on ScienceWoman’s post (concerning, among other things, how her students tend to call her Mrs. ScienceWoman and her male colleagues Dr. MaleColleague), got me thinking about the norms around addressing faculty that prevailed at my undergraduate institution and whether, if they still prevail, they’re worth abolishing. The commenter wrote:

Likely, the throbbing mass of humanity at my university knows at least a little more than it did before last week, owing to an article in the student newspaper about the institutional animal care and use committee. (It was a front-page article, so the chances that it attracted eyeballs was reasonably good.) A few things…