Week 1                                                                 Week 6

Week 2                                                                 Week 7

Week 3                                                                 Week 8

Week 4                                                                 Week 9

Week 5                                                                 Week 10             





Week 1(05-28-08)

In the first ethics class, we were introduced to the whole idea of ethics in science. Some of the interesting things we covered inv\clude the three levels of ethics

We explored the concept of normative ethics – theories of right and wrong, and how it applies to specific issues.

-Then there was Metaethics specifically relativism, nullism, egoism and abolitionism.

We ended by the class by talking about reflective equilibrium. This is explained as building a theory that systemizes and justifies a moral intuition. Sub topics discussed were consequentialism and deontology

Week 2 (06-04-08)

Here we discussed the importance of ethics in the work of scientists, aided by case studies of scientists having falsified their work or

not thoroughly acknowledging all relevant sources in the work

Ideas discussed in this class were

Cognitive Bias, conservation bias

Week 3 (06-11-08)

Communication with the public

Framing in ethics and how Scientist relate and ought to relate to the media

Deontic Motivations; that is to the extent that scientists receive funding for their work, it is imperative that they communicate with the public.

What counts as success in relation to communication to the public?

A)     Here is what we found. B) Here is what, why and how we found. C) Get public to believe. D) Get public to recognize science as an enterprise.

We argued that the first two are sufficient.

To what extent as scientists, do we want to use framing?

 Next week discussion -> Which frames are useful? Which ones are misleading?


Week 4 (06-18-08) Frames

Some of the frames considered include the lone genius (eg Galileo) vs cooperation.

Virtues of the lone Genius include standing up for the truth, honesty, integrity, work ethic, and getting it right.

Another science frame is various agents working in independent labs for decades making slow progress and exchanging data

Talking about science or being taught science requires the use of one of these frames. Effectiveness of communication depends on choice of frame.

Next week we’ll be discussing advocacy in Physics, in relation to global warming atomic bombs etc, and discussing the assignment


Week 5 (06-25-08)

We discussed the two case scenarios given as well the merits and demerits of advocating or not advocating a policy.

Week 6 (07-02-08)

In today’s class we reviewed the main ideas from the article we were assigned to read. And also discussed the following ideas]

Principle of Utility: Act such as to maximize the interests of your enterprise (ex the scientific community) or society as a whole. It is impartial, taking into account everybody’s position before acting.

Act only in a way to which people with principle will consent to.

We looked at different case studies and how one ought to approach it, either as a deontologist or a consequentialist.

Week 7 (07-09-08) Graduate School and Mentors

We had an article to read about the relationship between graduate students and their mentors.

There were several thought-provoking case scenarios about graduate school life, and we discussed these.

We considered whether the graduate school professors were being unprofessional, or unethical or abusive in some of these scenarios?

Or whether the graduate school students should be more aware and looking out for themselves?

What should students do in cases where their mentors are unethical or abusive?

For next week pick one of the scenarios and describe how you will approach it

Week 8 (07-16-08) Co-authorship

Some of the moral questions we posed during this ethics class include

To what extent is one responsible for the quality of work by a co-author?

When can one expect to be on a paper and when not?

When do you object to not being listed as a co-author?

What are the practical consequences of responsibility? Is it fair? Does it limit science

Is the lead author more responsible for the content of the paper?

Week 9 (07-23-08)

General ethics discusisi

Week 10 (07-30-08)

No class