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Taught by Prof. Bruce Glymour and Prof Amy Lara

Class: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Class 1: The APS Ethics Code  06-06-07

 I had not yet arrived at Kstate, I was still in Appleton, WI at Lawrence University taking finals.


Class 2:  Discussion of Scientific Theories vs. Ethical Theories 06-13-07

According to Prof. Glymour,

Scientific Theory: Systematizes observations, reliably predicts the unobserved, and reliably predicts consequences under intervention

Ethical Theory: has singular moral facts, should be true and provide guidance

Utilitarianism values human happiness and disvalues pain. Act Utilitarianism strives to maximize happiness for all. A more Deontic view would just say to obey god's word and that only actions bear value

Different types of beliefs-

Realism: There are real facts that are either basic or generated by other facts

Nihilism: There is no moral world

Relativism: There are lots of moral worlds, an individual moral world depends on culture

Universalism: There is only one moral world

Assignment 1: Look at the APS Ethics code and discuss.


Class 3: Responsibility in Scientific Writing 06-20-07




Communication with the public

Whose name should go on a paper/document: author, co-author, gift authorship, money authorship

Gift authorship: the person provided no real contribution, but may have suggested the problem (e.g. thesis advisor)

Money authorship: a person who provided no real contribution to the project, but gave money (e.g. lab director)

Who is responsible??

For fraud/fabrication: In small groups all parties are responsible. In larger groups, the perpetrator is guilty, but the co-authors may be responsible as well. However, the entire group is not held accountable.

This topic constitutes an ongoing debate in scientific ethics, who is responsible and how much responsibility is placed on each co-author.


Class 4:  More Responsibility in Scientific Writing   06-27-07



Should scientists advocate and when: anywhere, only as a private citizen, advocate as a citizen give facts as a scientist, or never advocate at all.

Also if scientists can advocate, what is responsible advocacy?

Explaining science to the public



Do scientists have a moral obligation to explain science to the general public?

    -Most of the class agreed, yes, scientists have some moral obligation to educate the public. However, it's more of a general human sharing than just scientists explaining to the rest. Others have perspectives and information to share too.

Framing the issue- Explaining topics in ways that make sense or that emphasize a certain aspect of the topic.

Assignment 2: Write a short paper adopting a particular policy concerning advocacy. Defend the stance as to where and when advocacy is permissible



Happy Independence Day 07-04-07

No Class :-o


Class 5: Interaction and Ethics  07-11-07


More science communicating with public

-don't be ambiguous in statements

-the class was divided in their feelings on advocacy

-should graduate students be trained to communicate with the media??

Interactions and ethics

Descriptive- describes the way the world is

Normative- says how things ought to be

Personal relationships: mentoring, collaborating, trust, education

Principle of Utility: The right action is the one that maximizes human happiness

The Categorical Imperative (Kant): Always act so that you treat rational beings as end in themselves, never only as means....or... Always treat people in ways to which they could, in principle, consent.

Assignment 3: Read Case scenarios in mentoring and write up ways to solve the dilemmas and your rationale behind your solutions.



Class 6: Moral Dilemmas in Mentoring 07-18-07

Categorical Imperatives:

Formula of Humanity: Treat others as ends in themselves not only as means.

Formula of Universal Law: Act on maxims that you could will to be universal laws.

We discussed the assigned case scenarios from last class. Scenarios discussed; What should be done if your research professor does not seem interested in your work: Possible solutions- Talk to the professor, talk to the program chair, find a new professor. From the professor's perspective- maybe they no longer have enough time to devote to your research, maybe they really aren't interested, maybe they think you are too clingy. The research professor should have some obligation, not necessarily to be your advisor, but to tell you that they don't have time or money to help your (graduate student) research.

What if a graduate student has failed their qualifying exams twice??? From the students view, perhaps they need to go back and take some undergrad courses in topics that they don't thoroughly comprehend. We also discussed that maybe the student, after failing twice, needs to start questioning themselves as to whether they believe they can accomplish their PhD, and are they really committed to earning it as well. From a faculty point of view, maybe concerns should be raised in teaching styles at the institution, if there are a large number failing twice . If it is an individual failing, then the department should come to them and discuss their options. Some colleges have rules in place that prevent students from taking the exam more than twice, unless good evidence is presented for a third attempt. Finally, the students' background might be considered; such as how thorough was their undergraduate degree. Some students come into grad school with a more rigorous background than others, say others from smaller colleges.

The next topic we discussed stems right from the issue brought up in the last discussion; what if a student comes from a smaller institution and is placed into classes beyond their ability level. They should remind their advising professor that they may not be ready, professors can't always memorize everyone's history. Additional mentoring or extra classes are also valid possibilities.

Lastly, we talked about the issue of minorities in graduate school. Do they have more obligations to recruit other minorities or to represent their minority in groups or committees. Is it even fair to ask them to do so? While minority members could and many do feel the need to represent their group, undue pressure should not be placed upon them to do so. However, we decided, in some situations it is difficult to avoid feeling pressured into attending extra meetings, especially if a professor or other faculty members asks you to do so.

Above are just brief summaries or our discussions and are in no way complete or verbatim. We did not discuss all of the scenarios and more will be deliberated next class. Also, we were given more reading material, but no extra written assignment.



Class 7: More Moral Dilemmas and Conclusions 07-25-07

 For the last class we were assigned to read two articles, the first being Research vs. Teaching and the other, Scientific Elites and Scientific Illiterates.

We finished discussing case scenarios, having one left over from the previous class. "To Be Or Not To Be Included"

-When to include collaborators on papers- how to look at the case- what are Swift's rights and obligations?- What are Alyssa's rights?

The deciding committee gave Swift the discretion to choose whether Alyssa be included or no, but was this the best moral choice?

A right is a claim to x and people should not prevent you from doing x.

A has a right to do x----other people have a duty towards a regarding x.

It can  be morally wrong to exercise a right.. To wrong is to do something unjust.


From the last two articles Research vs. Teaching and  Scientific Elites and Scientific Illiterates.

Do physicist have a duty to teach non-physicists? In general do scientists have an obligation to teach science to those not in their field? Is science necessary? Some view it as a luxury. Is life enriched by extra luxuries enough to justify them?

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