Ethics

Pharyngula

Category archives for Ethics

A specular conundrum

Every year in my intro biology course, I try to do one discussion of bioethics. One lecture is not much, but this is a course where we try to introduce students to the history and philosophy of science, and I think it’s an important issue, so I try to squeeze in a little bit. So…

A correspondent asked me an interesting and difficult question about the sponsorship of science. I’ve been talking a bit lately about the allosaur affair at the Creation “Museum”, which can be summarized this way: Michael Peroutka, an odious neo-Confederate nut, donates a valuable allosaur fossil to the Creation “Museum”. Now the tricky part. What’s the…

Demonstrate calmly for pro-science

Brianne writes fairly frequently about her experiences as a clinic escort, dealing with shrieking fanatics who stand on sidewalks harassing people going into family planning clinics. They’re hideous and awful and have lost all sense of perspective and humanity, and they’re also remarkably ineffective…unless, of course, their goals are to make other people miserable and…

No more Dan Markingsons

A few weeks ago I gave a talk in Seattle in which I pointed out that science is not sufficient to define moral behavior. A substantial part of that talk was a catalog of atrocities, such as the Tuskegee syphilis experiment. I said that in purely scientific terms, that was a good experiment; if the…

Science makes you good! (Sometimes.)

You’ve probably heard this explanation for the virtue of religion: that even if god doesn’t exist, belief in god (or some other monitoring authority) makes people behave more morally. There have been many experiments that have actually shown that people are nicer or more generous when exposed to religious concepts, such as this one by…

After that debate between Tzortzis and Lawrence Krauss that was overshadowed by the disgraceful anti-egalitarian exhibition of Muslim misogyny, iERA is now trying a new tactic: they’re releasing tiny snippets of the debate that they believe they can spin into anti-Krauss sentiment. Here’s a perfect example, Krauss’s reply to a question about the morality of…

Scientific morality: an example

Every once in a while, I hear these stirrings from scientists that there can be an objective morality, and that by following reason and evidence we can achieve great advances in ethics and reduce human suffering. I agree, in part. I think reason and science are the only ways we can implement our goals effectively,…

This is a rather chilling story of academic freedom getting trampled. A whole pile of documentation is available at that link, I’ll try to simplify it down a lot. UC Davis was sponsoring a public seminar on prostate cancer; specifically, they were actively promoting the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test. One professor, Michael Wilkes, objected…

Our illness is their profit

Have you ever walked around an 19th century (or earlier) graveyard? It gives you a depressing snapshot of the old reality: so many young women dead in childbirth, so many children reaped by diseases. We’ve been fortunate, we residents of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, that so many of those lethal conditions are…

He’s a delusional kook, but Collins is also a competent administrator, and I have to give him credit when he does the right thing. The NIH, led by Dr. Collins, has recently accepted a recommendation from the National Institute of Medicine that future chimpanzee research funding shall be suspended, and that exceedingly strict guidelines are…