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Phil 7570, Fall 2007 Panel Discussion Social Responsibility in Science 1.

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Presentation on theme: "Phil 7570, Fall 2007 Panel Discussion Social Responsibility in Science 1."— Presentation transcript:

1 Phil 7570, Fall 2007 Panel Discussion Social Responsibility in Science 1

2 Thanks to the Faculty! Kathi Mooney (Nursing) Kim Korinek (Sociology) Rachel Hayes-Harb (Linguistics) Frank Whitby (Biochem) Tom Richmond (Chemistry) Guest Presenters Chi-Bin Chien (Mbiol) Patrick Kiser (Bio-Eng) Hunter Jackson (Venture) David Grunwald (Genetics) Dana Carroll (Biochem) Matt Williams (Pathol) Michael Kay (Biochem) Jim Metherall (Genetics) Marty Rechsteiner (Biochem) Alice Schmid (Genetics) Jody Rosenblatt (Onc Sci)

3 Course Objectives Most of what we did in this course was aimed at demonstrating that both scientific and ethical sensitivity are important, and unavoidable features of science

4 Course Objectives 1.Increase ethical sensitivity to issues regarding RCR 2.Aid in developing moral reasoning skills; via case studies 3.Acquaint with relevant policies, procedures, and professional standards of ethical research

5 Central Dogma The focus of the course is not merely the legal or explicit regulations, but identifying and employing the underlying ethical principles and values that guide responsible research, so that one can (ideally) navigate the rocky shoals and murky waters of daily research practice.

6 Topics & Lessons? MisconductHonesty & Accuracy Data ManagementPreserving Research Record AuthorshipCredit & Accountability MentoringApprentice to Expert Human ParticipantsAutonomy, Beneficience, Justice Animal SubjectsHumane research Commerce & ConflictsDisclose Interests Special TopicsInternational context important Social Responsibility ?????

7 Do scientists have special responsibilities to society?

8 Ruth Ellen Bulger Professor of Anatomy, Physiology, and Genetics at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland. Just how far does the commitment of scientists to [society] extend? There is agreement among scientists on a commitment to doing research in an honest, trustworthy, competent, and ethical manner. There is a general commitment to ethical conduct in research with human volunteers and in treating animal subjects in a humane and respectful way. There is a growing awareness of the importance of educating and working with the public on scientific and ethical issues …. However, [there is] less agreement … among scientists on how best to deal with pressing social issues brought about by scientific developments…”

9 Question #1 As a scientist/researcher, what do you consider to be your social responsibility? Does it go beyond simply doing good science? Are your social responsibility limited to your local or national interests, or does it/should it include more international concerns?

10 Question #2 Advancements in science and technology often outstrip the ability of current legal or social institutions to understand or regulate them leading some people to claim that science needs to be more social responsible (ie, ethical) or more regulated. Please comment on the following cartoon…

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12 Question #3 It is uncontroversial that research funded by public money should address social ills, such as disease or environmental issues. But what if society deems certain forms of research to be unethical (if not illegal) or beyond the pale, and you feel contrary. (eg, hESC research or cloning) How responsive should science/research be to social concerns?

13 Arthur Caplan Director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania “But the greatest threat to the control and dissemination of research is this marriage with the military and anti-terrorist activities. The scientific community hasn’t given five minutes of thought to how to preserve their rights to publish and pick the topics they want. And there’s no hesitancy on the part of DARPA to say “You can’t publish” or “You can’t do this, this is ours. We own it.”

14 Question #4 Given the funding priorities since 9/11, such as “Project Bioshield” which funds research on detecting and protecting against potential bioterrorist threats, and regardless of your views on the War on Terror… How should scientists respond to national defense initiatives that affect research in your area?

15 Mousepox case A few years ago, researchers in Australia studying mouse-pox inadvertently created an extremely virulent strain of mouse-pox. They published their research in a respectable journal, but soon came under criticism for publishing information that might be used by terrorist or other unsavory types, to develop a more virulent form of small-pox. The researchers replied that it was better to have the information available, so counter- solutions could be developed.

16 Question #5 Was it socially irresponsible for the researchers to have published this material? Should it be the job of journals to filter some of this information before publishing it?

17 Communication There has been some discussion in the press about the disconnect between scientists and the public in scientific matters. Some argue that the public should be better educated so they can understand current scientific developments that may affect them. But others counter that scientists should do a better job of educating the public themselves.

18 Question #6 How important is it for scientists/researchers to be able to effectively communicate to the general public about their research? Is it your role as a scientist/researcher to "popularize" your research?

19 A recent case Nobel Winner Issues Apology for Comments About Blacks. –New York Times, Oct. 19, Henry Kelly, president of the Federation of American Scientists said it was “tragic that one of the icons of modern science has cast such dishonor on the profession.”

20 Question #7 What obligations do you have, as a scientist communicating to the public, to fellow scientists? For example, should you refrain from controversial topics? Should you represent only “mainstream” ideas in science? How should you represent science?

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22 Question #8 If you were invited to advise as an expert in your field of research on a government board regarding public policy (assume that it is relevant to public policy), what is your responsibility as a scientist? Is it your obligation to remove your own political/social convictions (insofar as you can) from your advice about research matters? Or should you take this as an opportunity to inject your political views into the process, while at the same time not distorting the science?

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24 Arthur Caplan Director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania “You can’t get very far [in scientific research] without values appearing, even in some strictly molecular activities. I would also say that you scare the public if you continue to assert that you don’t think about the ethical aspects of what you are doing. The fear of the ‘mad’ scientist isn’t that he or she is mad, it’s that he or she is indifferent to the ethics of what they are doing.”

25 Question #9 What responsibility do scientists have to publicly evaluate the ethical implications of their’s and others research? What is your responsibility as a scientist-citizen to actively engage in current issues relevant to your expertise?

26 Closing Thoughts “…we need a new and better vision… Neither technology nor economics can answer questions of values. Is our path into the future to be defined by the literally mindless process of technological evolution and economic expansion or by a conscious adoption of guiding moral precepts? Progress is meaningless if we don’t know where we’re going. Unless we try to visualize what is beyond the horizon, we will always occupy the same shore.” George Brown, Jr. Congressional champion of science at AAAS Colloquium on Science and Technology, 1992.

27 Sources Bulger, Ruth Ellen. (2002). The scientist in society. In the Ethical Dimensions of the Biological and Health Sciences, 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press, Weigmann, Katrin. (2001). In the name of science. EMBO reports 2, Breithaupt, Holger, & Hadley, Caroline. (2005). Interview with Arthur Caplan, building stairs into slippery slopes. EMBO reports 6, Bethe, H. (1983). The ethical responsibilities of scientists: weapons development rather than military research poses the most difficult questions. The Center Magazine, 16(5); 2-5.


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