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It raises many difficult ethical issues

'A cadaveric kidney comes from a dead person and in the majority of cases in China, the dead people are prisoners, which allows for us to know at least two weeks ahead when the kidney will be ready' Transplantsinternational.com is offering organs from executed Chinese prisoners for sale on it's website (offline at the moment) for £23,000 per kidney. They say the deceased's family receive a donation for the organs.

This is not a new phenomenon as it was brought to the attention of US Congress in 2001, however, now people seeking transplants know in advance that there is an organ ready for them. "Blood samples are taken from prisoners to ensure they will be the perfect match for their Western beneficiaries."

It raises all sort of ethical issues. Should someone accept an organ from an executed prisoner? What right does someone have to say it is immoral to take an organ acquired in this way? Then again China's human rights record is appalling, should desperate Westerners be taking of advantage of those in prison? Should it be made illegal in the West to become a transplant tourist in order to curb this trade?
posted by ClanvidHorse on Dec 12, 2005 - 49 comments

Crime & Abortion

Economist Steven Levitt, author of Freakonomics, has long posited a controversial thesis that legalized abortion help reduced crime, by reducing unwanted children, prone to crime. However, a new paper argues that Levitt (& Donohue) made serious errors in their research. Properly analysed, abortion has no significant effect on crime. Levitt disagrees, of course.
posted by daksya on Dec 4, 2005 - 46 comments

How much should we know?

If you watch television news stations, you've probably already heard that the latest missing white girl has been found. Naturally, the media is now obsessed with figuring out what led to the murder of the girl's parents. In the unending quest for information, TV news stations have shown the myspace pages of the two teens. And like many other teenagers, the two have xanga journals as well. But several sources, both blogs and mainstream news sites, have publicized the location of these pages. Is this responsible journalism?
Previously on MeFi: Blogging from prison; diary of a killer?
posted by kyleg on Nov 14, 2005 - 74 comments

did skynet need ethics?

Should programmers refuse to write malicious programs? Doctors take an oath to do no harm. We'd all like our computers to do what we want, and would be quite upset if they didn't. Should Sony's programmers have refused to write the malware?
posted by Jerub on Nov 14, 2005 - 94 comments

Liar, liar, pants on fire

"What's the matter sweetie? Can't sleep?"
"No, no. I was just going over my answers to the polygraph test your dad just gave me."
posted by Rothko on Nov 7, 2005 - 17 comments

Wilhelm Furtwängler

The Wartime Ninth. "Berlin. October 7, 1944. In the Beethovensaal a concert is about to begin, but the theater is empty, relieved of its usual audience studded with Nazi elite. The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra is on stage, awaiting its cue. Conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler stands awkwardly on the podium. The vague meandering of his baton summons the first shadowy note of Bruckner's Ninth Symphony. A Radio Berlin engineer starts his Magnetophon. The most extraordinary orchestral recording of the century has just begun". More inside.
posted by matteo on Oct 5, 2005 - 21 comments

Covert Propaganda

Ethicsgate continues: Today, the bipartisan Government Accountability Office declared that the Bush administration broke the law by paying Armstrong Williams to write favorable columns about the No Child Left Behind Act, funneling public funds to a PR firm to sift through news stories and gauge media perception of Bush policies, and financing phony TV news reports giving the President's education policies "an A-plus," creating what the GAO called "covert propaganda." [Williams et. al. previously discussed here.]
posted by digaman on Sep 30, 2005 - 59 comments

Common base of morality?

Do the Right Thing
posted by Gyan on Sep 14, 2005 - 63 comments

We no longer know what it means to be human,

EMBO's report on Time and Aging (free access) contains an essay wherein the author, Karin Knorr Cetina, from the University of Konstanz, Germany, argues that death and aging used to be major issues that defined what it means to be human and helped us find our place in society by showing us the limits of what is possible to achieve as a human. With the advances in science, particularly biological advances in slowing aging and technological advances in extending human function, we no longer accept our fate. Instead of accepting that we all grow old and die so we should take our place in society, with the expectation that if we contribute, society will take care of us, too, we now have promises being made by science that death and aging are no longer inevitable. Where are we headed, then? If we can no longer find our place by finding the limits of achievement and accepting our place within them, how do we work as a collective?
posted by Mr. Gunn on Jul 25, 2005 - 15 comments

melting wax

Is Civilization Decaying? Will technological progress be accompanied by moral progress? Notes on a 1923 debate between J. B. S. Haldane (Daedalus) and Bertrand Russell (Icarus). "As John Brunner pointed out in an article in the New Scientist in 1993, these two books ... inspired two generations of science fiction writers."
posted by painquale on Jul 10, 2005 - 11 comments

Stem Cells - Rumor vs. Reality

Stem cell pioneer does a reality check
posted by daksya on Jun 26, 2005 - 9 comments

Wal-mart: Sith Lord of unbridaled capitalism

That "liberal bastion" PBS and that "wacky" Christian Right AGREEING on something? Does the "Sith Lord of unbridaled capitalism" really deserve to be hated? Does it bear watching? A new movie will take a look: (Registration -free link). Why are growing numbers "ready to join the ranks of all right-thinking people the world over in declaring Wal-Mart an outpost of hell on earth"??? The full 60 minute Frontline program video is available online.
posted by spock on Jun 6, 2005 - 28 comments

Stem cell research guidelines

The National Academies have finally released suggested guidelines for research with embryonic stem cells and chimeras.
posted by homunculus on May 3, 2005 - 3 comments

ArticleBot Broohaha

I clicked this link today while perusing this MSNBC blog (which is occasionally amusing). It seems that ArticleBot's hackles have been raised, and they are on the defensive against mainstream media (aka MSM). I'm not exactly sure what their point is, but I really hate it when people "overuse" the "quotation" marks in their "unique content". I would have totally left it alone if they had not called attention to themselves by responding in this manner. Plus the assistance they are offering reminds me a little of these MIT geniuses (previously discussed on MeFi here and here) except designed to spider search engines. I'm sure it's completely legal, but the ethics are questionable to say the least.
posted by shoppingforsanity on Apr 26, 2005 - 89 comments

Somebody's gotta do it

Got Conscience? His company did $22 million in business last year, moving American manufacturing plants offshore. "It's not right," Hosea says. "But if I don't do it, someone else is gonna do it." Interesting, if it’s true, is that he tells his potential clients that what they’re about to do is wrong.
posted by tizzie on Apr 26, 2005 - 21 comments

Larry Clark: Punk Picasso

The Cheerful Transgressive Ever since 1971, when Larry Clark published Tulsa, an austere series chronicling his meth-shooting pals in sixties Oklahoma, Clark has made it his mission to document teenagers at their most deviant, their most vulnerable, their most sexually unhinged (possibly NSFW). And now “Larry Clark” the first American retrospective of Clark’s work, currently on display at the International Center of Photography, demonstrates the richness with which he’s mined this single subject (NSFW). More inside.
posted by matteo on Mar 31, 2005 - 48 comments

Blogging with Ethics

Blogging with Ethics While there's been talk of a blogger code of ethics, there's one at Cyberjournalist.net that's pretty in-depth (and looks a lot like this one for professional journalists, this one from nearly three years ago is less involved). One blogger / journalist, has gone as far to create an online petition asking bloggers to adapt an identifiable code.
posted by nospecialfx on Feb 27, 2005 - 22 comments

Pro-Life Veganism

This comment got me thinking about the pro-life/pro-vegan movement. I first encountered these folks at my local food co-op when I noticed some interesting bumper stickers. I was already somewhat aware of the "Consistent Life Ethic" movement, but they don't seem to talk about animals much. Is being pro-choice philosophically inconsistent with veganism? Some claim a resounding "yes", for others it comes down to when a fetus can experience pain, and still others take a hardline. I have to admit that I respect some of these people, if only because they're obviously not in it to make friends. To paraphrase something Steve Colbert said about Jews for Jesus, can you put a price on annoying two extremist groups at once?
posted by brevator on Feb 13, 2005 - 109 comments

First Contact

First Contact: Is it ethical to charge people for the privilege of making "first contact" with nomadic hunter-gatherer groups when the situation of indigenous peoples is so dire? Are we still entranced by the idea of the "noble savage"?
posted by ITheCosmos on Feb 6, 2005 - 18 comments

Payola: it's not just for radio anymore

And then there were 3 --(salon, watch ad or use bugmenot) One day after President Bush ordered his Cabinet secretaries to stop hiring commentators to help promote administration initiatives, and one day after the second high-profile conservative pundit was found to be on the federal payroll, a third embarrassing hire has emerged. Meet Michael McManus. Who's next in PayolaGate? And in the Senate, they're going to be introducing a 'Stop Government Propaganda Act.' Even Jonah Goldberg (on the right) is actually calling for a real investigation .
posted by amberglow on Jan 27, 2005 - 48 comments

Comments open; continually revised

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 and blog.
posted by painquale on Jan 3, 2005 - 14 comments

What do bloggers owe their sources?

Roland Piquepaille, author of the excellent Technology Trends blog and frequent contributor to Slashdot, is accused of using plagirism, Slashdot and his own blog to pump up his Blogads revenue. Long quotes and summarization of sources are staples of the blogging culture. When revenue is involved, some infer that the blogger owes more than just credit to their sources. [via Eyebeam Reblog].
posted by tomharpel on Dec 29, 2004 - 27 comments

Undifferentiated human tissue flopping down a slippery slope?

Monster Farming: The Creepy Solution to the Stem Cell Debate. MSN Slate's William Saletan: "The good news is that we may have figured out how to solve the moral problem that's been holding up stem-cell research. The bad news is that the solution will introduce a whole new kind of horror."
posted by neckro23 on Dec 7, 2004 - 33 comments

Just Say No To Drugs (Reps)

Just Say No To Drug Reps.
posted by Gyan on Dec 4, 2004 - 40 comments

The FDA's for Losers.

New York's HIV Experiment. Need test subjects for your highly experimental, possibly lethal drugs but don't want to deal with consent issues? Don't worry, New York City's Association for Children's Services has got you covered! Just ask GlaxoSmithKline about its continuing antiretroviral drug trials. Not only does the ACS provide it and other pharmaceutical companies with high-quality HIV-positive orphans and foster children, but it administers the drugs to them as well! Kids not willing to take the pills? The ACS will stick peg-tubes in their stomachs. Foster parents refusing to give kids the drugs? The ACS will charge them with abuse and put the kids somewhere else. Wondering about Tuskegee comparisons or how the combination of side-effects like diarrhea and swollen joints with no evidence of benefits fits into a cost-benefit analysis? Why? This is the ACS! They can do whatever they want.
posted by schroedinger on Dec 2, 2004 - 81 comments

The Real Deal on Stem Cells

Stem Cells: Science, Ethics and Politics at the Crossroads
posted by Gyan on Oct 24, 2004 - 2 comments

Serpico blogs! (well, sort of)

Ten 13 PI Productions Inc. was developed by Frank Serpico and his nephew Vincent Serpico as an organization to develop media projects that progress ethical culture. The Frank Serpico website is the first project in the development of this cooperative endeavor. Maybe you've read the book, seen the movie or even the short-lived tv show. But have you read Frank Serpico's blog?
posted by whatnot on Sep 26, 2004 - 1 comment

Unspooling the ongoing thread of deceit

"DeLay is doing everything moral, legal and ethical to increase the Republican majority and advance conservative ideas," says his spokesman, Stuart Roy. Heck, we already know that Tom DeLay loves the children enough to start a charitable fund to help pay for "late-night convention parties, a luxury suite during President Bush's speech at Madison Square Garden and yacht cruises" during the 2004 GOP convention (as well as the children, of course). Now, he's connected (via an email) to Enron, asking them for extra money in order to help fund the already-notorious redistricting in Texas. When will enough be enough?
posted by almostcool on Jul 12, 2004 - 50 comments

Stem Cell Research

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 - 64 comments

The Way the Music Died

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 - 46 comments

Hippocretin oath

"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 - 90 comments

Ethics Filter

Richard Clarke asks MoveOn to remove his name and recordings of his voice from their new advert. MoveOn refuses.
posted by alms on Mar 31, 2004 - 25 comments

Neuroethics

Whose life would you save? Carl Zimmer takes a look at the work of philospher-neuroscientist Joshua Greene in the emerging field of the neuroscience of ethics and morality (Leon Kass, take note.) [Via Dynamist Blog.]
posted by homunculus on Mar 10, 2004 - 6 comments

Kennewick Controversy: A Sign of the Times

Research Vs. Religion: Scientists Win Lawsuit Against Native American Tribes The 9,000 year old remains, found in Kennewick, Washington in 1996, will be made available for study, rather than being buried by tribes who had hoped to assert the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act in this case.
posted by mcgraw on Feb 10, 2004 - 18 comments

Scalia Was Cheney Hunt Trip Guest; Ethics Concern Grows

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 - 41 comments

Ethical Behavior in America.

Does our culture actively discourage ethical behavior? The alarmingly high rate of cheating in schools, discussed by David Callahan, seems to imply that cheating is not an aberration in our culture but more like a norm. [More Inside]
posted by gregb1007 on Jan 11, 2004 - 48 comments

The Ethics Of Photoshop

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 - 69 comments

Examining Bush's stem cell policy, two years later.

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 - 1 comment

The Judicial Role

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 - 11 comments

US Army Used Reporters for Own Ends in Iraq War

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 - 15 comments

Now We

"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 - 9 comments

photojournalist stripped of award

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 - 31 comments

Sportsmanship

False Start
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 - 19 comments

southern pride

Don't bump into a Southerner Paul Robinson on the ancient code of insult and revenge that is still prevalent in the American South
posted by konolia on Jul 31, 2003 - 92 comments

Ethics cost money

Ethics cost money - The Los Angeles Times discusses the effect of Levi Strauss's ethical standards on their place in a competitive marketplace. Can a company succeed when they place their morals ahead of their money?
posted by Argyle on Jun 26, 2003 - 9 comments

Interview with a suicide site owner

This interview with a "pro-choice" suicide site owner is an interesting read. The website she runs was linked to a few suicides earlier this year, but she contends the site helps people cope and prevents more than it enables. [via k diggity]
posted by mathowie on Jun 24, 2003 - 59 comments

christian terrorist

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 - 35 comments

Freelance ambulance-chasers in Washington D.C.

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 - 6 comments

Required Reading from the President's Council on Bioethics

Required Reading 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 - 2 comments

Ethics, Integrity and Decorum

"The Ethics Resource Center (ERC) is dedicated to building community - a bond between individuals that grows from our shared values. We embrace Honesty, Respect, Trust and Excellence in our daily interactions and in our work. Our values enable us to foster ethical practices in individuals and institutions and contribute to our vision of an ethical world." (from their Values Statement) Not to be confused with The Center for Public Integrity. Before one debates either of these issues, it might be useful to consult Robert's Rules of Order, specifically in regards to Decorum in Debate. If that is too "old world" for you, you may wish to consult The United States House of Representative's Rules of Decorum and Debate .
posted by Joey Michaels on Apr 7, 2003 - 1 comment

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