Ethics Class:

Class 1:We discussed Consequential and Deantic Reasoning.Consequentialists judge actions based on their consequences, while those who adhere to Deantic Reasoning believe that the action in and of itself can be deemed right or wrong, regardless of the consequences.We also discussed Reflective Equilibrium as a method of deciding what sort of ethical code can be applied to actions to determine whether the action is right or wrong.For homework, we read the ethics code of the American Physical Society, and identified which parts appealed to Deantic reasoning and which appealed to Consequential reasoning.

Class2:  We discussed fabrication or omission of data.We went over what needs to be published as data, and what data can be omitted as blatant error.We also discussed what motivation a scientist might have for fabricating data.Finally, we looked at individual case studies of data fabrication and applied what ideas we had come up with to each case study.

Class3: We talked about specifically how scientists should communicate with the public.We had scenarios in which we had to communicate ambiguous data to political reporters who might spin the information.I feel that scientists should be honest in how they interact with the public, regardless of their own estimated consequences.We arenít experts in how the public will react, so we canít make those kinds of decisions for the public, as experts.

Class4:We talked about what a scientistís role is as an expert.We discussed whether we should just present data, or if we should go a step further and interpret the data, or if we should go a step further and draw conclusions from the data, or if we should go a step further and make recommendations based on our conclusions.I think that as experts, we canít do the last step unless we are experts on every facet of science involved in our decision-making process.If we estimate that people will react a certain way, that estimation in not a valid premise for us to use in our decision to advocate.

Class5: We talked about the relationship between graduate students and their mentors.I realized that graduate students really donít have a lot in terms of job security.They have to get along well with their mentor or risk having to leave graduate school without a diploma.Also, they donít take as many classes that are graded, so they donít have a lot of feedback as to how good of students they are.

Class6:We talked about who should be a coauthor of a paper.How do we know how much work each author of a paper did?I liked the idea that each author should write a paragraph description of specifically how he or she contributed to the paper.That way, if someone is a coauthor simply because he or she provided funding, then the public can know that for sure.

Class7:We talked about intellectual property.We also talked about the ethicality of building robot soldiers.Then we talked about whether knowledge is always worth finding, or if we should purposefully not pursue research that would have a bad outcome.