Keep up with ethics-related stories appearing in the news.
Below are stories collected from news sources around the web relating to ethics. Click on the links provided to read the stories in full.
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nb. Links to new stories are generally to external websites. St James Ethics Centre is not responsible for the content on these sites. Some links may become invalid over time and this is beyond our control.
Bees, pesticides and … what are chief scientists for?
1 May 2013 - The Conversation
Without good advice, governments are in extreme danger of creating erroneous or damaging public policy. So it’s a serious matter when a government science adviser is accused of ignoring scientific evidence in favour of engaging in political machinations.
Such was the case on Monday, when the author George Monbiot, writing for The Guardian, claimed statements made by the new UK...
Partly cloudy with a chance of … banks? Ads start on govt website
1 May 2013 - Crikey
Here’s a first: there’s paid advertising appearing on a federal government website (the Bureau of Meteorology). Does this pose a problem — and who might be next?
Paid advertising has appeared on a federal government website for the first time, a move advertising baron Harold Mitchell estimates will net the Bureau of Meteorology $2 million a year.
Only 1.4% of S&P Companies Have Fully Integrated Reporting
29 April 2013 - Environmental Leader
American Electric Power, Clorox, Dow Chemical, Eaton, Ingersoll Rand, Pfizer and Southwest Airlines are the only companies in the S&P 500 — just 1.4 percent of the total — with fully integrated annual financial and sustainability reports, according to a study from the IRRC Institute and the Sustainable Investments Institute (Si2).
All seven companies, which are spread...
We should use, not lose, our senior brain power
27 April 2013 - The Canberra Times
There's a lot of talk these days about work/life balance and I think we have mostly got it all wrong. Work is life and life is work. It's not a choice between the two - it's about choosing to be happy and positive no matter what we are doing or how old we are.
There's an old Zen Buddhist saying, "Before enlightenment - chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment...
A Step But Not A Leap: The Commission’s New Proposal For Non-Fianancial And Diversity Reporting
22 April 2013 - Social Europe Journal
Last week the Commission released its long-awaited proposal for a Directive regarding disclosure of non-financial and diversity information. The Commission’s explanation of the motivation for this proposal is straightforward: “…only a limited number of EU large companies regularly disclose non-financial information, and the quality of the information disclosed varies largely...
Paracetamol Can Soften Our Moral Reactions
22 April 2013 - Practical Ethics
Our moral reactions are easily influenced by a variety of factors. One of them is anxiety. When people are confronted with disturbing experiences like mortality salience (i.e., being made aware of their own eventual death), they tend to affirm their moral beliefs. As a result, they feel inclined to punish moral transgression more harshly than they would without feeling fundamentally threatened...
Teen Witness must have a transfusion, rules judge
18 April 2013 - The Sydney Morning Herald
A 17-year-old Jehovah's Witness suffering from a lethal form of blood cancer and refusing treatment threatened to rip the IV needle out of his arm if doctors attempted a blood transfusion.
But the NSW Supreme Court has overruled the wishes of the patient, known only as ''X'', and his parents, ordering him to undergo the potentially lifesaving procedure.
IQ2 Debate: Our Food Obsession Has Gone Too Far
15 April 2013 - ABC
Our food obsession has gone too far. That’s the premise for this IQ2 debate.
There’s a glut of food and cooking shows on television now and kids under 10 compete to deliver sophisticated cuisine sprinkled with sumac or za’atar and they’re competent at stuffing zucchini flowers and deep frying them for a light snack. And they’re not above a kitchen tantrum...
Case in Point: An opportunity to communicate
14 April 2013 - The Washington Post
The big idea: The memorable quote “What we got here is failure to communicate” from the prison guard captain in the classic movie “Cool Hand Luke” is certainly applicable to the challenge facing corporations around the world with respect to their ability to communicate their value and values to key stakeholders in a relevant, comprehensive, transparent, timely and...
Environmentalists welcome scrapping of LNG project
12 April 2013 - ABC
Environmentalists are claiming victory after Woodside abandoned its controversial $45 billion Browse LNG project in Western Australia.
Woodside has grounded the project at James Price Point, north of Broome, and will instead explore other options like a floating LNG facility.
WA Premier Colin Barnett says it would be a "tragedy and a missed opportunity" if Woodside does...
An ethical education: why Gonski is a moral issue
11 April 2013 - The Conversation
In the lead up to negotiations with the states on schools funding reform, the government has armed itself by labelling the reforms as a moral issue.
It’s easy, of course, for a politician to bring an issue to the boil by labelling it a “moral” one. But as infighting between the states and the government escalated in the last week, it increasingly seems that the larger...
Don’t demonise doctors for treating gender identity disorder
9 April 2013 - The Conversation
Imagine yourself as a doctor consulting with a child who is experiencing profound discomfort. At times, the parents inform you, the child’s profound discomfort escalates, manifesting in profound distress that leads to self-harming behaviour.
Imagine, now, that the child knows exactly what is causing their discomfort and that you can facilitate that treatment, with the full support...
We must stamp on the cockroach of racism
8 April 2013 - The Age
Racism is like a cockroach of civilised society. It is vile, revolting, and it breeds prodigiously. Few things appear capable of eradicating it. It seems always to return, no matter what we do to stamp it out.
Of late, there have been plenty of reminders about this unfortunate fact of life. Melburnians will remember the video footage of a racist attack directed at a young French woman...
The giving mentality
2 April 2013 - The Sydney Morning Herald
The traditional image of a silver-haired billionaire philanthropist writing cheques on a whim is ripe for an overhaul, according to a small group of Australian rich-listers.
They are bypassing the safe, established charities and are instead looking to newer causes that align more closely with their personal values.
And they're not afraid to get their hands dirty. They're...
Qld ethics units face axe after inquiry
4 April 2013 - The Age
Ethical standards units in Queensland government departments could be abolished and the public refused access to documents without a reason, under recommendations arising from an inquiry into the crime watchdog.
The Callinan and Aroney inquiry into the Crime and Misconduct Commission was scathing of the watchdog in parts of its report, and also recommended that people who made '...
Tax ruling on ethics classes criticised
4 April 2013 - The Standard
Former NSW Labor education minister Verity Firth has criticised the Gillard government's refusal to give ethics classes the same tax status as scripture classes, arguing it is inequitable and unfair to treat the religious and secular programs differently.
Last month Fairfax Media revealed the federal government had rejected a special request from the provider of ethics classes,...
The ethics of solitary confinement
26 March 2013 - Al Jazeera
This weekend the New York Times reported that on any given day 300 immigrants are held in solitary confinement in American detention facilities.
Nearly half are kept isolated for more than 15 days - the point at which experts say they are at risk of severe psychiatric harm.
More widely, according to federal records, some 80,000 prisoners were held in solitary confinement across...
Anti-drone revolt prompts push for new federal, state laws
22 March 2013 - CNET
An unusual bipartisan revolt has erupted against law enforcement plans to fly more drones equipped with high-tech gear that can be used to conduct surveillance of Americans.
A combination of concerns about privacy, air traffic safety, facial recognition, cell phone tracking -- and even the possibility that in the future drones could be armed -- have suddenly placed police on the...
Julian Savulescu and Robert Sparrow debate the ethics of designer babies
21 March 2013 - Practical Ethics
Last year, Julian Savulescu of the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics here at Oxford debated Robert Sparrow of Monash University on the issue of using techniques like embryo selection to ensure one’s children have the best life possible. Savulescu has notably defended not only the permissibility but the obligation to select for the best children, while Sparrow has been more...
Pharmacists should drop products that aren’t backed by evidence
21 March 2013 - The Conversation
If you look at the shelves of most Australian community pharmacies or browse the pages of local internet pharmacies, you’ll see numerous examples of products making claims that can’t be supported by scientific evidence.
These include an increasing proliferation of homeopathic medicines, weight-loss products with names such SensaSlim, Undoit and Fat Blaster Reducta, products...
97 Percent of UK Doctors Have Given Placebos to Patients at Least Once
20 March 2013 - Science Daily
A survey of UK doctors found that 97% have prescribed placebo treatments to patients at least once in their career.
Researchers at the Universities of Oxford and Southampton in the UK discovered that 97% of doctors have used 'impure' placebo treatments, while 12% have used 'pure' placebos.
'Impure' placebos are treatments that are unproven, such as...
British press mulls next move over rules
19 March 2013 - news.com.au
BRITAIN'S newspapers have vowed to closely scrutinise a deal struck by the main political parties for a tough new press regulator, which they warned threatens 318 years of press freedom.
MPs insisted on Monday the agreement would rein in the kind of misdeeds exposed by the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, without curbing press freedom, but the newspapers said the government...
Uncivil and unbalanced: the Australian media can’t be trusted to report on industry reform
19 March 2013 - The Conversation
Anyone who has picked up the country’s biggest newspapers in the past week (and that of course includes the nation’s poll-fearing political powerbrokers) would naturally think communication minister Stephen Conroy’s apparently doomed media reforms presented a serious threat to Australia
In the past week the newspapers, led by Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, have put...
Ethics rethink for social sciences
14 March 2013 - Times Higher Education
Social scientists are drawing up a common set of ethical principles aimed at freeing research from excessive ethics oversight frameworks that hamper their ability to improve social understanding.
According to Robert Dingwall, professor of social science at Nottingham Trent University, a “free” social science research base is as important to a healthy democracy as a free...
The Ethics Of Horsemeat
13 March 2013 - Forbes
Hal Herzog loves animals. In the acknowledgements for his 2010 book Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat, his cat gets special mention: “Finally,” he writes, “a Crunchy Salmon Treat to Tilly, who spent many a drowsy afternoon lying in a rocking chair, keeping me company and watching me write, occasionally meowing so I would rub her belly, reminding me why we bring animals...
Retired Scottish doctor reveals he helped three pensioners to die
13 March 2013 - The Guardian
A retired Scottish doctor is facing a fresh police investigation after he admitted helping several pensioners to kill themselves because he agrees with assisted suicide.
Dr Iain Kerr, 66, a former GP in East Renfrewshire, has confirmed for the first time that he advised one chronically ill pensioner on the correct dosage of antidepressants to take in order to die and then visited him...
Panic is tightening its grip on our politicians
11 March 2013 - The Age
We sometimes forget just how hard politics can be as a vocation, how it brutally exposes those in office to unforgiving scrutiny. We forget because of the remarkable resilience of modern politicians. Occasionally, though, we see those who decide it is better to give up than keep going.
So it was with Ted Baillieu's resignation. There was no doubt his government was in trouble, but...
CPR more often prolongs seniors' suffering than saves lives
5 March 2013 - The Guardian
I seem to have misplaced my outrage.
In Bakersfield, California, an 87-year-old woman collapsed in a senior residence and was allowed to die by a nurse who was following company policy against staff performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation. In a recording of her seven-minute conversation with the 911 dispatcher, the nurse's affect was, to my ear, one of indifference.
Anti-Corruption Views - A blueprint to make banks behave
12 March 2013 - TrustLaw
Banking integrity has become an oxymoron. Top bankers need to change this and take responsibility for tackling ethical issues. For this to happen, every part of the organization – from senior management to human resources managers to those on the trading floor and beyond – should be assessed according to the contribution it makes to promoting ethical values, not just the bottom...
How Your Moral Decisions are Shaped by a Bad Mood
12 March 2013 - Scientific American
Imagine you’re standing on a footbridge over some trolley tracks. Below you, an out-of-control trolley is bearing down on five unaware individuals standing on the track. Standing next to you is a large man. You realize that the only way to prevent the five people from being killed by the trolley is to push the man off the bridge, into the path of the trolley. His body would stop the...
Neil Levy: ‘Psychopaths and Responsibility’ – Podcast
11 March 2013 - Practical Ethics
In this talk, Neil Levy brings a new perspective to the debate concerning the moral responsibility of psychopaths. Previously, this debate has been thought to turn on the question of whether psychopaths have moral knowledge. Here, Levy argues that regardless of whether psychopaths count as having moral knowledge, we ought to believe that they lack moral responsibility on the grounds that their...
E.U. Bans Cosmetics With Animal-Tested Ingredients
11 March 2013 - The New York Times
BRUSSELS — European Union regulators announced a ban Monday on the import and sale of cosmetics containing ingredients tested on animals and to pledge more efforts to push other parts of the world, like China, to accept alternatives.
The ban, which will take effect immediately, “gives an important signal on the value that Europe attaches to animal welfare,” Tonio Borg...
Who Owns Your Genes? Supreme Court Will Decide
11 March 2013 - The Fiscal Times
For 30 years, companies have been patenting human genes. Yes, the very genetic material of our bodies, of our DNA, albeit in isolated forms. For longer than that, debates have been incessant -- in the scientific community, between businesses, and in the courts -- over whether or not this practice is legal, let alone ethical. Earlier this month, an Australian court heard yet another case about...
11 March 2013 - Huffington Post
Most discussions about downsizing focus on the legal, economic or psychological issues raised by this practice. These are essential concerns, but we rarely consider how or why downsizing is also an ethical issue. The next two columns are an attempt to redress that problem. Here, we'll consider your ethical responsibilities if you are the one charged with giving the bad news. In the second...
Akubra backing for ethical purchases
9 March 2013 - The Sydney Morning Herald
THE maker of Australia's iconic slouch hat has backed a new move to get government departments to consider the ethics of companies they deal with.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Friday used an International Women's Day speech to announce a new government strategy on ethical contracting.
The finance department will install new processes and training to ensure government...
Don't Mistake Pluralism for Moral Relativism
8 March 2013 - Huffington Post
Reminding those who debunk pluralism, what it really is --
When we dismiss pluralism as nothing more than moral relativism, we make a huge mistake. Failing to understand what it is -- a forum for debate, influence and decision-making -- we forgo its ability to influence and lose opportunities for witness.
Pluralism does not mean a mishmash of beliefs. It is the forum in which...
When Good Deeds Cause Bad Behavior: Are You a Moral Cheater?
7 March 2013 - Medical Daily
Good deeds don't always lead to more good behavior - a person's ethical mindset can determine how "good" or "bad" they are to others, and how prone they are to cheating.
This might seem like a no-brainer, but previous psychological research has been inconclusive about how a person's previous acts affect their current good or bad behavior. The main strands...
The World's Most Ethical Companies
6 March 2013 - Forbes
The Ethisphere Institute, an international think tank, has just announced its seventh annual list of the World’s Most Ethical Companies. The selection, open to every company in every industry around the globe, gives its winners an opportunity to trumpet their do-gooding ways. It is not a ranking, so they are all equally winners.
Thousands of companies were nominated–or...
Gillard and Abbott bet on Australia’s xenophobia
5 March 2013 - The Conversation
Julia Gillard’s pledge to put foreign workers at the back of the queue for Australian jobs is tapping into what Labor sources describe as the “economic patriotism” deeply embedded in the “battler” view of the world.
Labor research has found a strongly held, almost visceral, view among mainstream voters that there are available jobs which Australians can...
BRCA1 gene patent ruling to be appealed
4 March 2013 - The Sydney Morning Herald
A decision that private companies can control human genes will be appealed in the Federal Court.
Cancer groups have applauded the move, and say a win is vital to protect patient access to new tests and treatments.
Law firm Maurice Blackburn has lodged documents to appeal a decision last month by Federal Court justice John Nicholas that upheld a patent on the so-called breast...
The Problem of Authority
4 March 2013 - CATO Unbound
Sam has a problem. He has a number of very poor nephews and nieces. He has been working with a charity organization to help them, but the organization needs more funding. So Sam goes out and starts demanding money from his neighbors to give to the charity group. If anyone refuses to contribute, Sam kidnaps that person and locks them in a cage.
Though charitable giving is laudable, as is...
Ethics classes at risk as plea for tax relief refused
2 March 2013 - The Sydney Morning Herald
THE future of ethics classes in NSW is in doubt, the provider says, after the federal government refused to allow it to collect tax-deductible donations in the same way providers of scripture classes in state schools do.
Funds established for providing religious instruction in public schools in Australia can claim Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status, a provision that is used by some...
26 February 2013 - SBS Insight
A woman who regrets saving the life of her daughter’s rapist. A woman who decided to donate her perfectly healthy kidney to a perfect stranger. A man who walked past someone dying on a mountain – and says he’s thought about that decision every day since.
They all join Insight this week to discuss whether there is any moral obligation to save a life. What if it means...
Oxfam slams food brands for poor ethical performance
7 March 2013 - Marketing Week
Oxfam has accused brand owners including Associated British Foods, Kellogg’s and Coca-Cola of not living up to their brand promises on ethics and sustainable business. The charity is calling on consumers to take to social media to put pressure on brand owners to improve.
The charity claims brands are keeping consumers “in the dark” about how they do business and are...
Social Media: Does It Cause More Harm Than Good?
25 February 2013 - ABC Big Ideas
Social media: does it cause more harm than good? This was the theme of the panel discussion from the BOFA Film Festival in late 2012. BOFA (Breath of Fresh Air) is the annual film festival held in Hobart.
Panellists here are – film critic Lynden Barber; Karen Pickering, activist and commentator who set up Slutwalk and Cherchez la femme in Melbourne; Catherine Deveny, writer and...