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.
We frequently add to our Ethics News stories, so check back often. You can also subscribe to the RSS feed.
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.
Should flu shots be mandatory for health-care workers?
6 June 2013 - The Conversation
We’re still looking for ways of preventing and treating influenza, and several vaccines are available. But there’s a growing controversy about whether some populations should be forced to vaccinate for the health of others.
Health-care workers are prime targets for mandatory influenza vaccination because they must maintain good health while they assist the ill. The idea of...
Conflict in ethics of baby-making
6 June 2013 - The Dominion Post
How fertility treatment works is still throwing up ethical issues for New Zealand, including conflicts between the rules overseas and those operating here, and whether parents should be able to pick the sex of their child.
The Government's advisory committee on assisted reproductive technology (Acart) frames guidelines to assist in the implementation of the Human Assisted...
Building on Its International Success, Should the Global Reporting Initiative Now Tackle Social Justice?
5 June 2013 - CSRWire
Last week more than 1,600 people from around the world – including huge delegations from China and India – gathered in Amsterdam for the release of the new Global Reporting Initiative sustainability guidelines, known as the “G4.”
By any measure, the GRI has been an extraordinary success, growing from a small entity in the United States to the leading global...
The Tamiflu saga shows why all research data should be public
5 June 2013 - The Conversation
Welcome to Facts about flu – Today, we consider the long-running attempt to evaluate whether the antiviral drug Tamiflu works.
There’s a dispute going on at the moment, a war of words with lots of public relations manoeuvring. It’s all about the disclosure of trials undertaken in the past. And it is between Cochrane reviewers (of which I am one) and Big Pharma (in this...
How To Choose An Ethical Career (With Help From Oxford Philosophers)
4 June 2013 - Co.Exist
Our writer lets 80,000 Hours, a student-run organization at Oxford University that guides people toward ethical jobs, plot his future career path. Could it work for you?
If you need help choosing a career, there are aptitude tests, counselors and shelves full of best-sellers to help. But if your primary goal is moral achievement--as opposed to personal fulfillment--you might be better...
IQ2 Debate: Is it OK for Athletes to Use Performance Enhancing Drugs?
3 June 2013 - ABC
We’re right on the money with this IQ2 Debate. Is it OK for athletes to use performance enhancing drugs?
The national drug body ASADA has been staring down the AFL and the NRL clubs in Melbourne and Sydney but up to this point there’s very little clarity about who took what and exactly what's illegal. There's defiance, anger, disbelief and a whole bunch of confusion...
Podcast: David Nutt, ‘The current laws on drugs and alcohol – ineffective, dishonest and unethical?’
31 May 2013 - Practical Ethics
Professor David Nutt argues in this podcast of his lecture, that whilst the use of the law to control drug use is long established, it remains unproven in efficacy. Although seemingly obvious that legal interdictions should work there is little evidence to support this assertion. So for example cannabis though illegal is at some time used by nearly half of the population. Similarly drugs like...
How to bring personal ethics into your closet
30 May 2013 - CNBC
If the deadly factory collapse and other workplace disasters in Bangladesh have you searching for ethically sourced clothing, get ready for a lengthy hunt.
As apparel manufacturing has globalized, the sourcing of fabric and garment assembly has become exponentially more complicated: Thread may come from one country, buttons from another, and the stitching may be performed in a third. At...
Microsoft founder Bill Gates says rich should pay more taxes
28 May 2013 - ABC
Microsoft founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates says the rich should pay more taxes.
The world's richest man has had a busy day in Canberra, lobbying Prime Minister Julia Gillard to stay committed to foreign aid, meeting the Opposition Leader and speaking at the National Press Club.
He has told the ABC's 7.30 he has paid more than $US6 billion in taxes and he...
What sort of prime minister will this man be?
20 May 2013 - WAToday
It is hard to believe that barely six years ago Australia appeared to be entering an age of social democracy. I remember after the 2007 election reading one national newspaper's political editor declare that Kevin Rudd was ''now in a position to be one of Australia's great prime ministers and establish a decade of unprecedented Labor power in Australia''.
Scientists report first success in cloning human stem cells
16 May 2013 - CNN
It's been 17 years since Dolly the sheep was cloned from a mammary cell. And now scientists applied the same technique to make the first embryonic stem cell lines from human skin cells.
Ever since Ian Wilmut, an unassuming embryologist working at the Roslin Institute just outside of Edinburgh stunned the world by cloning the first mammal, Dolly, scientists have been asking -- could...
Keep calm and trademark it: privatising the English language
16 May 2013 - The Conversation
In the heart of Northumberland, England, is the pretty town of Alnwick. For bibliophiles, a stop at its second-hand bookshop is a must. Barter Books is housed in the town’s old railway station and, on its outside wall, the shop’s owner Stuart Manley has hung a piece of ephemera, a World War Two poster that reads “Keep Calm and Carry On”.
The problem is that Mark...
Bioethicists must not allow themselves to become a 'priestly caste'
14 May 2013 - The Guardian
In a secular age it might seem that the time for moral authorities has passed. However, research in the life sciences and biomedicine has produced a range of moral concerns and prompted the emergence of bioethics; an area of study that specialises in the ethical analysis of these issues. The result has been the emergence of what we might call expert bioethicists, a cadre of professionals who,...
Re-stigmatising the mentally ill
14 May 2013 - The Conversation
Just when we thought we were heading for a more tolerant and accepting attitude toward people afflicted by mental illness, a feature and a news article in Saturday’s The Australian quoting leaders in the area of forensic psychiatry have revived the old mental-illness-equals-axe-murderer stigma.
One of the articles was based on a recent paper published in the journal Acta...
We may need to end all war. Quickly.
8 May 2013 - Practical Ethics
Public opinion and governments wrestle with a difficult problem: whether or not to intervene in Syria. The standard arguments are well known – just war theory, humanitarian protection of civilian populations, the westphalian right of states to non-intervention, the risk of quagmires, deterrence against chemical weapons use… But the news that an American group has successfully 3D...
Dollars for our scholars
8 May 2013 - The Age
Victoria University made an important announcement on the weekend about a major donation to set up a new health and education policy institute. It followed Graham and Louise Tuckwell's $50 million donation to set up a scholarship fund at the Australian National University, the largest donation made by an Australian citizen to an Australian university.
Most Australian universities...
Forced Physical Exercise as an Intervention for Mental Disorders?
7 May 2013 - Practical Ethics
Studies have shown that regular physical activity has benefits for mental health: exercise can help people to recover from depression and anxiety disorders. However, not all people like exercise, and a mental disorder like depression can additionally decrease motivation for physical activity. So the disorder itself might inhibit behaviour that helps to overcome it.
We would assume that...
When did the lucky country become selfish?
6 May 2013 - The Sydney Morning Herald
It should be the mark of a civilised society that it takes care of its most vulnerable members. For this reason alone, a national disability insurance scheme merits the bipartisan political support it enjoys. Its eventual passage through Parliament - assuming that happens - would count as a major social reform. The scheme would significantly improve the lives of the disabled and their carers...
At home with Simon Longstaff
5 May 2013 - Brisbane Times
In an era where bookshops are about as fiscally sound as the Greek economy, it's pleasing to note Dr Simon Longstaff is doing his bit to keep the publishing industry alive.
Books line the entry corridor of his Cremorne home, yet more tomes are tucked away in the living room and they reach the ceiling of the study nook.
The executive director of the St James Ethics Centre...
New Mitchell Institute for health and education policy
4 May 2013 - ABC
This morning leading businessman and philanthropist Harold Mitchell has announced on RN's Saturday Extra the formation of a new national public policy think-tank. Here he writes about the reasons behind his $12.5m investment in The Mitchell Institute for Health and Education Policy, which will focus on the health and education outcomes of low and middle income families, a group vital to...
Sydney grads reboot energy in India
27 April 2013 - The University of Sydney
This week I spoke with four extraordinary young alumni, Emma Collenbrander, Katerina Kimmorley, Monique Alfris and Jamie Chivers, who joined forces in 2012 with a mission to eradicate energy poverty in India through their social business venture, Pollinate Energy.
The booming city of Bangalore is seen as India’s entrepreneurial powerhouse, but these four exceptional alumni...
Shiv Malik & Ed Howker: The Coming Civil War Between Young & Old
11 February 2013 - ABC
‘The Coming Civil War Between Young & Old’ is a proposition put forth by a couple of GenY’ers - Shiv Malik and Ed Howker - both journalists with The Guardian.
Their research develops the theme that the greedy old boomers have vacuumed up a hefty portion of available economic and social resources and left job prospects and living standards for Gen Y in steep decline...
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...