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Animal Spirits

The more we learn about the emotions shared by all mammals, the more we must rethink our own human intelligence [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Aug 21, 2014 - 69 comments

Deus ex machina

Patrick Lin discusses ethics, responsibility and liability related to safety programming in self-driving cars: Robot Cars With Adjustable Ethics Settings.
posted by paleyellowwithorange on Aug 19, 2014 - 31 comments

Your Kindness Is Good For You

Why we could all use a little more self-examination. [more inside]
posted by ellieBOA on Jul 9, 2014 - 11 comments

Utility, welfare, and efficiency

  1. Welfare economics: an introduction
  2. The perils of Potential Pareto
  3. Inequality, production, and technology
  4. Welfare theorems, distribution priority, and market clearing
  5. Normative is performative, not positive

posted by kliuless on Jul 7, 2014 - 7 comments

killing them with kindness

Farm Confessional: I Raise Livestock and I Think It May Be Wrong - "[Bob] Comis talked to Modern Farmer about the self-doubt he feels while raising animals for slaughter and his desire to see humanity evolve into a species that does not kill to eat." [more inside]
posted by flex on Jul 5, 2014 - 100 comments

New experiences are under development at this very moment

The VR Chicken Matrix: "a virtual chicken world in which caged animals think they're wandering happily around in the open... got me thinking again about Facebook's recent purchase of Oculus VR."
posted by kliuless on May 24, 2014 - 23 comments

The Mathematics of Murder: Should a Robot Sacrifice Your Life to Save 2

"Buy our car, but be aware that it might drive over a cliff rather than hit a car with two people." The Mathematics of Murder: Should a Robot Sacrifice Your Life to Save Two?
posted by juv3nal on May 13, 2014 - 160 comments

Bounty Mutiny

"If an NHS trust proposed today that it was going to introduce Viagra sales reps into men's genitourinary wards, or reps for walking aids to orthopaedic wards, the very least you'd expect would be some stout resistance. It is a measure of the strength of the association between "motherhood" and "buying stuff" that the presence of commercial representatives on maternity wards has been tolerated for so long."
[more inside]
posted by Catseye on Apr 23, 2014 - 29 comments

The Moral Question Of Our Time: Can We Share The Planet?

UN Climate Report: We Must Focus On 'Decarbonization', and It Won't Wreck the Economy - "The basic message is simple: We share a planet. Let's start acting like it." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Apr 23, 2014 - 50 comments

Dorkiness fits the narrative

The NBA season has ended, and the playoffs have begun, causing a figurative ton of internet ink to be spilled on predictions and power rankings. But one word in particular seems to keep popping up in articles to describe white players like Steve Novak, Cody Zeller, Mason Plumlee, Andrew Bogut, and Josh McRoberts: "Dorky." And the writers that use it are inevitably white. Triangle Offense's Khalid Saalam (previously) thinks they should probably cut that out.
posted by Potomac Avenue on Apr 22, 2014 - 43 comments

When photos lie.

"Stevenson High's star player Jalen Brunson was in the process of scoring a Illinois state semifinal record 56 points when he sank what would have been a three-point shot. The basket was waived off as a foul. Brunson raised his hands in protest. Photographers captured the moment." But what really happened? [more inside]
posted by The Girl Who Ate Boston on Mar 25, 2014 - 70 comments

Insider/outsider in South Africa

The women of Gugulethu and Khayelitsha township. The third installment of photographer Julia Gunther’s ongoing project ‘Proud Women of Africa,’ which is in many ways is an outsider's continuation of visual activist Zanele Muholi's 'Faces and Phases' series, “marking, mapping, and preserving an often invisible community for posterity.” In an interview with the New Statesman, Muholi grappled with the ethical implications of documentary photography: “It’s been done for many years. Africa has mostly been projected and documented by the outside world.” (previously)
posted by spamandkimchi on Feb 24, 2014 - 2 comments

Helping you beat Turnitin.com Since 2012

With recognition software making the use of recycled term papers impractical, a new service is now allowing students to hire unemployed professors to write term papers from scratch.
posted by reenum on Feb 10, 2014 - 139 comments

The ethics of Prison Architect

Is it possible to create a prison management game without trivializing or misrepresenting the issue of mass incarceration? So begins a critique by Paolo Pedercini, developer of "games addressing issues of social and environmental justice," of Introversion Software's upcoming game Prison Architect, currently in still in development but available as an early access beta. Prison Architect's producer, Mark Morris, and its designer, Chris Delay, respond in a lengthy youtube video. [more inside]
posted by whir on Jan 31, 2014 - 38 comments

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR MEDIA

In the wake of recent debates about the responsibility of journalists to their subjects, this essay from TampaBay.com, about a woman suffering from a rare disorder, and the writer's relationship with her before and after the story is being written, has been hearalded as a good counterexample of "a journalist analyzing her actions ferociously," and doing a more ethical job of dealing with "suffering, suicide and a journalist's responsibility".
posted by Potomac Avenue on Jan 19, 2014 - 5 comments

Of all the occupations in the world, why did he trade in our ancestors!

NYTimes: "The paleontologist Richard Leakey has called their removal a “sacrilege.” Kenyan villagers have said their theft led to crop failure and ailing livestock. It is little wonder, then, that the long, slender wooden East African memorial totems known as vigango are creating a spiritual crisis of sorts for American museums." [more inside]
posted by jetlagaddict on Jan 3, 2014 - 20 comments

Complex Things Explained

This Video Will Hurt
A detailed explanation of a fascinating field of science and medicine by the always interesting C.G.P. Grey.
[more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Dec 23, 2013 - 7 comments

The Politics Of The Next Dimension: Do Ghosts Have Civil Rights?

The Awl presents the article that would've accompanied that Atlantic Monthly cover from Ghostbusters.
posted by Pope Guilty on Dec 23, 2013 - 21 comments

Plata o Plomo o el aguacate

Blood Avocados: The Dark Side of Guacamole [more inside]
posted by Potomac Avenue on Nov 19, 2013 - 25 comments

"...research that is scientifically valuable but morally disturbing."

The Nazi Anatomists. "How the corpses of Hitler's victims are still haunting modern science—and American abortion politics."
posted by zarq on Nov 6, 2013 - 28 comments

Blood in your hands - ethical electronics

The Bangka Belitung islands are a picture postcard tropical paradise, except where the tin is mined. Tin that is used in smartphone solders, and that is responsible for widespread ecological devastation. Following a Friends of the Earth campaign, all of the major manufacturers bar one have acknowledged their role in this destruction, and are seeking improved standards for tin mining. But if you truly want ethical consumer electronics, you'll have to wait for the Fairphone(Fairphone previously).
posted by wilful on Sep 23, 2013 - 20 comments

Being a fair sport

In athletic competitions, what qualifies as a sporting chance?
posted by Gyan on Sep 4, 2013 - 41 comments

Truth and/or Bias in South Dakota

Last week the NPR Ombudsman made a series of posts about problems with the investigation and framing of a 2011 story on foster care among Native American children in South Dakota. [more inside]
posted by gubenuj on Aug 18, 2013 - 14 comments

Life, liberty and the pursuit of fuck-you money

The Quality of Life: As Macaulay once noted: “If men are to wait for liberty till they become good and wise in slavery, they may indeed wait forever.”
posted by Gyan on Aug 2, 2013 - 18 comments

A “quiet” liquidation of 119 cars.

Using "under-the-radar" auctions, the Petersen Museum in L.A. is selling much of its classic car collection to finance an exterior renovation.
posted by xowie on Aug 1, 2013 - 20 comments

Kant Stop The Trolley

The Ethics of Saving Lives With Autonomous Cars Are Far Murkier Than You Think
posted by spiderskull on Jul 30, 2013 - 58 comments

4. A robot must not scalp restaurant reservations

If you find it impossible to make restaurant reservations online it might be because you're competing against bots. A developer explains how it works and just how common it might be in San Francisco. [more inside]
posted by Foci for Analysis on Jul 25, 2013 - 65 comments

Chasing the Whale: Examining the ethics of free-to-play games

Via Gamasutra: "I used to work at [company], and it paid well and advanced my career," the person told me. "But I recognize that [company]'s games cause great harm to people's lives. They are designed for addiction. [company] chooses what to add to their games based on metrics that maximize players' investments of time and money. [company]'s games find and exploit the right people, and then suck everything they can out of them, without giving much in return. It's not hard to see the parallels to the tobacco industry."
posted by tarpin on Jul 24, 2013 - 106 comments

"I didn’t die?"

A Life-Or-Death Situation. "As a bioethicist, Margaret "Peggy" Pabst Battin fought for the right of people to end their own lives. After her husband’s cycling accident, her field of study turned unbearably personal." Via.
posted by zarq on Jul 19, 2013 - 26 comments

What’s worse there, the sex or the pretending to be dead?

The Encyclopedia of Ethical Failure [PDF, there is a Word file direct from the DoD] is 167 pages of stories of elaborate frauds, scams, and abuses of power in the US government. Interestingly, the sarcasm-filled document is also published by the US government, to help illustrate how government workers get in trouble. Freakonomics radio has a amusing and interesting discussion with the Encyclopedia's editor and founding editor [link goes to transcript]. [more inside]
posted by blahblahblah on Jul 18, 2013 - 12 comments

"Do we need to produce billions of new garments a year?"

Should You Feel Guilty About Wearing Vintage Fur? [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jul 12, 2013 - 121 comments

"a certain... moral flexibility would be the only way to describe it"

Our Inconsistent Ethical Instincts
We like to believe that the principled side of the equation is rooted in deep, reasoned conviction. But a growing wealth of research shows that those values often prove to be finicky, inconsistent intuitions, swayed by ethically irrelevant factors. What you say now you might disagree with in five minutes. And such wavering has implications for both public policy and our personal lives.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jun 18, 2013 - 26 comments

If it's consensual, can it ever be wrong?

The panda gangbang took place deep in the basement of the Kink armory, where rivulets of the long-suffocated Mission Creek still trace a path between moisture-eaten columns, and the air hangs heavy with a stony dampness. Emily Witt explores the experiences and motivations of participants in acts of extreme pornography. Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic considers "Is some sex wrong even among consenting adults?" [Language NSFW, possible trigger warnings, as descriptions and language are graphic]
posted by MoonOrb on May 18, 2013 - 207 comments

Even better than the real thing?

Widespread fraud has been discovered in the case of an Indian generic drug manufacturer that makes generic Lipitor (atorvastatin calcium) and many other drugs. Ranbaxy has "pleaded guilty to seven federal criminal counts of selling adulterated drugs with intent to defraud." [more inside]
posted by fiercecupcake on May 18, 2013 - 28 comments

It is not on you to finish the work, but neither are you free to desist

Joseph Tomaras reflects on the Mauna Loa data and concludes that the main tasks of the moment are neither political nor economic, but ethical or moral. [more inside]
posted by Gilgongo on May 15, 2013 - 38 comments

Tiger or Cheetah?

Controversy struck the exalted Augusta grounds of the Masters golf tournament on Friday as Tiger Woods put himself at risk of disqualification. It all began with a situation in which Woods had the extraordinarily bad luck of bouncing his ball off the flagstick on the 15th hole into the water. Instead of dropping his ball "as nearly as possible" to it's original position, Woods dropped it a couple of yards back. In an interview after the round, Woods said: "I went back to where I played it from, but I went two yards further back and I took, tried to take two yards off the shot of what I felt I hit and that should land me short of the flag and not have it either hit the flag or skip over the back." Woods signed his scorecard without assigning himself the two shot penalty the rules of golf require for an improper drop. The following day, the Masters Rules Committee ruled that Woods would not be disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard, justifying it by using a new rule that allows tournament committees to waive rules infractions called in by TV viewers, even though the intention of that rule was to prevent disqualifications based on tiny movements of the ball or sand imperceptible to the golfer but visible on close-up HD shots. Many in the golf world were outraged at both the ruling and the fact that Woods didn't withdraw himself from the tournament. Nick Faldo suggested it would be "the manly thing to do." [more inside]
posted by fairmettle on Apr 14, 2013 - 71 comments

“Thinking about science leads to [endorsing] more stringent moral norms”

Christine Ma-Kellams and Jim Blascovich. Does “Science” Make You Moral? The Effects of Priming Science on Moral Judgments and Behavior. PLOS One, 6 March 2013. (Salon) [more inside]
posted by jeffburdges on Mar 30, 2013 - 18 comments

Was Wittgenstein Right?

"I want to say here that it can never be our job to reduce anything to anything, or to explain anything. Philosophy really is 'purely descriptive.'" --Wittgenstein. Apart from a small and ignored clique of hard-core supporters the usual view these days is that his writing is self-indulgently obscure and that behind the catchy slogans there is little of intellectual value. But this dismissal disguises what is pretty clearly the real cause of Wittgenstein’s unpopularity within departments of philosophy: namely, his thoroughgoing rejection of the subject as traditionally and currently practiced; his insistence that it can’t give us the kind of knowledge generally regarded as its raison d’être. [more inside]
posted by Golden Eternity on Mar 5, 2013 - 37 comments

Anthropologist denounces militarization

Marshall Sahlins, a leading American anthropologist, resigned last week from the National Academy of Sciences. This may come as a shock to the scientific community and even to students at NYU. Anyone taking an introductory course to anthropology at NYU, for example, is bound to encounter several readings of Sahlins’s work. Among his more influential works are “Historical Metaphors and Mythical Realities,” a case study of the murder of Captain Cook in Hawaii and how it was the result of underlying social factors. Normally, when a scientist or scholar resigns from such a prestigious position, one assumes that he probably committed an irrevocable and egregious error that forever taints his credibility as an academic. However, our assumptions sometimes deceive us. If we explore the reasoning and motivations behind Sahlins’s resignation, we may arrive at deeper insights into the issues at play.
posted by infini on Feb 27, 2013 - 14 comments

You should read this review. It's good for you.

Justifying Coercive Paternalism - autonomy is "not valuable enough to offset what we lose by leaving people to their own autonomous choices"
posted by Gyan on Feb 24, 2013 - 196 comments

Born this way

Ethics of preemptive incarceration for deviant sexuality, specifically pedophila (Trigger warning)...recognizing as a society that certain individuals are intrinsically attracted to children need not and does not imply that we condone acting upon these desires. [Previously] Found via the excellent PsyDoctor8 [tumblr link].
posted by lonefrontranger on Feb 21, 2013 - 49 comments

Two Sides of a Camera

What it feels like to be photographed in a moment of grief.
posted by The Girl Who Ate Boston on Feb 2, 2013 - 57 comments

Radiance was her job.

"A "mystery shopper" visits every Pret outlet once a week. If the employee who rings up the sale is appropriately ebullient, then everyone in the shop gets a bonus. If not, nobody does." The doubtful ethics of the new emotional labor.
posted by Riton on Feb 1, 2013 - 294 comments

Essay: Moral Shortcomings in the Technology Debate

Digital and genetic techniques increasingly influence life. Our belief in progress through technology stands in the way of a moral debate on this development. ~ by Rinie van Est
posted by infini on Jan 31, 2013 - 24 comments

"once aroused, it seeks out its object, as hatred does, in its entire"

The Delights Of Disgust
I confess I am disgusted by a great many things about people (and about myself, but let's put that aside). I do not believe it is particularly urgent for me to overcome my disgust, even if I recognize that this emotion must remain entirely separate from my thinking about which laws would be most just. I am disgusted by other people's dandruff, facial moles, food stuck in their beards, yet I do not accept that in feeling this way I am judging those people to be subhuman. I take it rather that humanity, while endearing, is also capable of appearing disgusting.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jan 16, 2013 - 23 comments

So I voted for an axe-murderer

A new MP, Gloria De Piero was taken aback by how many people despised her because of her new profession. So she took to the streets to find out why. [more inside]
posted by smoke on Jan 2, 2013 - 20 comments

"One can tell if one is happy by listening to the wind. This latter reminds the unhappy of the fragility of their house and pursues them in fitful sleep and violent dreams. To the happy, it sings the song of their safety and security: its raging whistle registers the fact that it no longer has any power over them."

Minima Moralia: Reflections from the Damaged Life is a book written by German sociologist and philosopher Theodor W. Adorno during his exile in California in the 1940s. Translator Dennis Redmond has released his translation under creative commons (here is the same translation set up in a more book-like way). In his essay Promiscuous Reading, Mark O'Connell talks about his habit of never finishing books, but an exception being "this captivatingly strange and mordant text" Minima Moralia, "a thematically wayward aggregation of a hundred and fifty-three short essays and aphorisms that darts restlessly from one subject matter to the next, its fleeting yet intense engagements rarely spanning more than a page and a half." Among the subject matters Adorno addresses is the ethics of writing, which has reverberated down through the years, and is often set up in opposition to George Orwell's thought, as recounted by James Miller in the essay Lingua Franca. [more inside]
posted by Kattullus on Dec 28, 2012 - 31 comments

Operation Delirium

Operation Delirium. "The military’s secret Cold War experiment to fight enemies with clouds of psychochemicals. Decades after a risky Cold War experiment, a scientist lives with secrets." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Dec 10, 2012 - 44 comments

"The statistics don't matter, until they happen to you."

"Premature babies born at the edge of viability force us to debate the most difficult questions in medicine and in life. After just 23 weeks of pregnancy, Kelley Benham found herself in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) with a daughter born so early neonatologist doctors would call her a "micro preemie." New technologies can sometimes keep micro preemies alive, but many end up disabled, some catastrophically so. Whether to provide care to these infants is one of the fundamental controversies in neonatology. This is the story of how Benham and her husband, Tom French, made the difficult choice: Fight for the life of their micro preemie baby or let her go?" [more inside]
posted by zarq on Dec 8, 2012 - 70 comments

The ethics of taking a picture

Yesterday, the New York Post published a dramatic image on its cover of a Queens man just seconds from being hit by a Q train after being pushed by another man who is now in custody. [more inside]
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Dec 5, 2012 - 179 comments

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