The Ethics of Deep Self-Modification.
What will happen when machines gain the ability to modify their own psychology? Do we have a responsibility to step in? What happens when we have the ability to modify ourselves
? Philosopher Peter Suber
has dedicated himself to issues of self-modification... not just in psychology, but also in constitutional law
. Small wonder that this is the guy who invented Nomic
. His site is littered with great stuff; he now is primarily involved with the open access movement. Check out his open access primer
posted by painquale
on Jan 3, 2005 -
The False Controversy of Stem Cell Research.
Kinsley: In fact, thinking it through is a moral obligation, especially if you are on the side of the argument that wants to stop or slow this research.
It's not complicated. An embryo used in stem-cell research (and fertility treatments) is three to five days past conception. It consists of a few dozen cells that together are too small to be seen without a microscope. It has no consciousness, no self-awareness, no ability to feel love or pain. The smallest insect is far more human in every respect except potential.
posted by skallas
on May 31, 2004 -
Interview with David Crosby.
"The people who run record companies now wouldn't know a song if it flew up their nose and died. They haven't a clue, and they don't care. You tell them that, and they go, 'Yeah? So, your point is?' Because ...they don't care. They're actually sort of proud that they don't care.... Now they're going in the tank, because the world has changed, and they did not change with it...I think the only way to sell records that I know about now that does look really, really, really promising is iTunes."
posted by weston
on May 30, 2004 -
"The Conscientious Objector Policy Act"
just passed the Michigan Assembly, and awaits voting in the state Senate. The bill
legalizes the right for a doctor, or any health provider, to deny treatment based on "ethical, moral, or religious grounds." In addition to the obvious notion of restricting abortion, in the most extreme example the bill technically allows doctors to deny treatment to gays simply for believing that homosexuality is immoral.
posted by XQUZYPHYR
on Apr 22, 2004 -
Scalia Was Cheney Hunt Trip Guest; Ethics Concern Grows
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia traveled as an official guest of Vice President Dick Cheney on a small government jet that served as Air Force Two when the pair came here last month to hunt ducks.
The revelation cast further doubts about whether Scalia can be an impartial judge in Cheney's upcoming case before the Supreme Court, legal ethics experts said. The hunting trip took place just weeks after the high court agreed to take up Cheney's bid to keep secret the details of his energy policy task force.
posted by GernBlandston
on Feb 6, 2004 -
Is The Blood Red Water For Real?
A discussion on egullet
, of all places, suggests at least one of these shocking pictures (inside
) has been retouched. A more interesting question is: is it OK to "enhance" real evidence, if the salient facts are true? Or even, more radically, if the cause is just and dedicated to save lives or relieve suffering?
posted by MiguelCardoso
on Nov 1, 2003 -
Examining Bush's stem cell policy, two years later.
Kinsley: Put it all together, and the stem cells that can squeeze through Bush's loopholes are far less promising than they seemed two years ago, while the general promise of embryonic stem cells burns brighter than ever. If you claim to have made an anguished moral decision, and the factual basis for that decision turns out to be faulty, you ought to reconsider or your claim to moral anguish looks phony. But Bush's moral anguish was suspect from the beginning, because the policy it produced makes no sense.
posted by skallas
on Oct 25, 2003 -
Justice Scalia's recusal in the Pledge case has prompted a serious debate on the judicial role. Robert Alt
has suggested that the Justice's recusal carries an important warning for the Senate in confirming new judges; if the Senate requires the nominees to answer questions about their opinions on potential cases, those nominees would have to recuse themselves if those cases later indeed came before them. Matthew Franck
, on the other hand, suggests "this argument ... permits the requirements of judicial ethics — and even a terribly broad reading of them — to trump the constitutional obligation of senators to inform themselves adequately about the kinds of judges they are being asked to confirm." [more inside]
posted by monju_bosatsu
on Oct 22, 2003 -
U.S. Army Used Media Cover in Iraq for Own Ends
which sounds like a big old bowl of yellow journalism but isn't really, at least I don't think so. It was more to refute the Iraqi Minister of Lies talking about the whooping the Iraqi war machine was delivering to the coalition forces.
The main issue that the reporters had was that they were only getting the one side of the story and not the Iraqi perspective.
But it raises some questions about the supposed objectivity of the media. Is this a proper use of them? To help achieve military goals? Or to try to avoid more unnecessary deaths?
posted by fenriq
on Sep 8, 2003 -
"I think the word they are replacing is 'invention.'
Only now we innovate, which is deliberately vague but seems to stop somewhere short of invention. Innovators have wiggle room. They can steal ideas, for example, and pawn them off as their own. That's the intersection of innovation and sharp business. " Cringley puts his finger on a crucial difference, touching not only on the core of ethics but on the connection to real progress.
posted by weston
on Sep 5, 2003 -
Press photographer stripped of award;
accused of overly darkening some portions in the digital editing process. Nothing was added or moved. Explains N.C. Press Photographers Assoc. president Chuck Liddy: You might say, "Gosh, I don't like the way this background looks I can get rid of this with a couple of keystrokes". No contortions in the darkroom with your hands and a dodging wand. No making ten or fifteen prints over a two hour period to get that print just right. Nope, just go and use the lasso tool, yank those levels to the max and VIOLA! the background disappears. Burning has always been an acceptable action. Burning to "de-emphasize" a background is something all of us do. But deleting the background by using some of the powerful tools Photoshop offers is totally unacceptable and violates the ethics code we adhere to.
Schneider, the photographer, responds in an NPR interview (scroll down to audio link).
In this allegedly unethical photo
, Schneider says he corrected for overexposure. Is this a backlash against digital manipulation, which rankles the old school because it is simply too easy?
posted by found missing
on Aug 30, 2003 -
How important is sportsmanship in the modern era? On Sunday afternoon at the IAAF World Championships, Jon Drummond false started in the 100m sprint and was disqualified. He refused to leave the track (initially prostrating himself in the middle of his lane) and ended up delaying the race by more than 50 minutes. In 1996, Linford Christie did something similar
in the Olympic games 100m final.
Is it just 100m sprinters, or is sportsmanship going out of fashion?
posted by daveg
on Aug 24, 2003 -
is eric rudolph a christian terrorist? via atrios
and who are these christian identity people?: "We declare and will wage total war on the ungodly communist regime in New York and your legaslative bureaucratic lackey's in Washington. It is you who are responsible and preside over the murder of children and issue the policy of ungodly preversion thats destroying our people," - sound familiar?
posted by specialk420
on Jun 2, 2003 -
Streets strewn with glass and gold.
In the nation's capitol, freelance 'runners' dash from police station to police station, grabbing auto accident reports the moment they appear and phoning the victims, trying to convince them to file suit. If they succeed, "personal injury cases can be sold to a lawyer for $300 to $600, sometimes more if the victim broke some bones or died. Not bad money." Whatever you may think of the social policy wisdom of D.C. allowing this, this tiny subculture of high-energy hustlers living on the ragged fringe of law and mainstream ethics is colorful as hell, and would make a great context for a novel or film.WaPo link. [via Overlawyered.com]
posted by Slithy_Tove
on May 6, 2003 -
from the President's Council on Bioethics. Each of the readings that follow - which include poetry, short stories and more - is accompanied by a brief introduction and questions about the bioethical implications of the work.
The new booklist includes James Watson, Tolstoy, Shakespeare and Ovid. Via the WSJ.
posted by turbodog
on Apr 18, 2003 -
This lengthy Los Angeles Times photo correction
addresses the manipulation of a front page photo and the subsequent firing of its photographer. Working from two source photos, Brian Walski combined them in Photoshop to create a more compelling image, but was caught when someone noticed that some people appeared twice in the background of the modified photo. (via Fimoculous
posted by waxpancake
on Apr 2, 2003 -
A journalist with principles
When Katy Weitz, an anti-war feature writer for UK paper 'The Sun' picked up Thursday's edition and saw the headline, it was a step too far. She went in the following day and without another job to go to, handed in her resignation. It was no longer possible for her to write for a paper whose views she didn't agree with. I once gave up a marketing job because it ran against my principles as well. How far can we stretch ourselves before we have to shrug our shoulders and say ... it's only a job?
posted by feelinglistless
on Mar 31, 2003 -
The illegal aliens who got two hearts and two lungs for their daughter REFUSED to have any of her organs donated when it was clear she was brain-dead...
posted by MattD
on Feb 22, 2003 -
Ethics, Shmethics! You Stole Someone's Umbrella, You Pompously Rationalizing Fink!
Has anyone else taken Randy Cohen's ethics quiz and violently disagreed with his sneaky, say-nothing, keep-quiet approach? Silence (and therefore lying by omission) is a touchy subject, rabinically debated since records began... but still! [So I flunked 5... But they were all ethically unimpeachable, unimpeachable, you hear?! But, yeah, for now I'll sneakily keep quiet and say nothing about those I took exception to, the better to gauge anyone else's outrages...
posted by MiguelCardoso
on Feb 18, 2003 -
In an article called "The Sociobiological Conceit"
, Gene Callahan says darwinism is logically flawed and inherently self-contradictory: "if moral ideas are simply an 'illusion' fostered on us by our genes then so are all of our other ideas – including the ideas of sociobiology!".
Callahan, fyi, belongs to the ultra-libertarian circles of the Mises Institute
. Would any of the evolutionists among us care to politely
posted by 111
on Feb 7, 2003 -
"I poisoned P2P networks for the RIAA"
, a whistleblower from the IFPI
(the global version of the RIAA
) has said. Someone else actually claimed this a few days ago
but it was admitted to be a hoax. Now, a fellow by the name of Matt Warne comes forward with a new claim.
While I'm sure many MeFi'ers disagree about the ethics of music piracy (which it is, whether or not you think it should be okay) - I think we can all agree that two wrongs don't make a right, can we not? Can the RIAA be sued for this, or will it be an invincible body, impervious to injury just like a certain other huge body
that has problems getting hacked all the time
, and simply has to repeatedly settle in court
rather than admitting true wrongdoing?
posted by twiggy
on Jan 17, 2003 -
This week, two boys in Florida were tried for the bludgeoning-murder of their father. With accusations raised of the actual killing to have been done by another, adult male with alleged sexual ties to the two boys, the boys were found guilty only of a lesser second-degree murder charge
, claiming the adult must have done the actual deed... yet the jury was unaware the adult accused and being tried for that very idea was acquitted of all charges the previous week
. The issue? Both trials were handled by the same prosecutor who presented completely different theories to each jury...
in other words, not settling on a confident belief of who actually performed the killing, the prosecution tried to get both the adult and the pair of boys convicted for it. Isn't that risky? Or, if you like a different flavor of debate, isn't that completely unethical?
posted by XQUZYPHYR
on Sep 7, 2002 -
One Man's Meat Is Another's Person.
There are certain words which evoke powerful images and emotions. One such word is Cannibalism
. There is a lot of myth and truth
about this nearly universally distained practice. But it has happened in the United States
and virtually everywhere, at one time or another. If religion were removed from the equation would cannibalism still be wrong? Is the fear of cannibalism learned or is it a self preservation instinct which might get in the way of self preservation when starving to death? Is it the last taboo?
: We eat meat and we are meat.
posted by Mack Twain
on Jul 29, 2002 -
In a word, Google's goal is to do important stuff that matters to a lot of people. In pursuit of that goal, we've developed a set of values that drive our work, including one of our most cherished core values: "Don't be evil."
We already know that Google can deliver the goods when it comes to services -- so what do you guys think? Is it possible that a company could actually be worthy of our trust?
posted by tweebiscuit
on Jul 23, 2002 -
It's the clothes.
A fashion columnist in The Washington Post
blames corporate scandals on business-casual clothes, which lead to casual ethics.
posted by kirkaracha
on Jul 5, 2002 -
The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement
"Phasing out the human race by voluntarily ceasing to breed will allow Earth's biosphere to return to good health. Crowded conditions and resource shortages will improve as we become less dense." More inside...
posted by Irontom
on May 30, 2002 -