During the past decade scientists, public policy analysts, politicians, and laypeople, have become increasingly aware of the importance of ethical conduct in scientific research. In this timely book, David B. Resnik introduces the reader to the ethical dilemmas and questions that arise in scientific research. Some of the issues addressed in the book include ethical decision-making, the goals and methods of science, and misconduct in science. The Ethics of Science also discusses significant case studies such as human and animal cloning, (...) the Challenger accident and Tobacco research. This is essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand the importance of ethics in science. (shrink)
This book provides a framework for approaching ethical and policy dilemmas in research with human subjects from the perspective of trust. It explains how trust is important not only between investigators and subjects but also between and among other stakeholders involved in the research enterprise, including research staff, sponsors, institutions, communities, oversight committees, government agencies, and the general public. The book argues that trust should be viewed as a distinct ethical principle for research with human subjects that complements other principles, (...) such as autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice. The book applies the principle of trust to numerous issues, including informed consent, confidentiality, risk minimization, risks and benefits, protection of vulnerable subjects, experimental design, research integrity, and research oversight.This work also includes discussions of the history of research involving human subjects, moral theories and principles, contemporary cases, and proposed regulatory reforms. The book is useful for undergraduate and graduate students studying ethical policy issues related to research with human subjects, as well as for scientists and scholars who are interested in thinking about this topic from the perspective of trust. (shrink)
Modern science is big business. Governments, universities, and corporations have invested billions of dollars in scientific and technological research in the hope of obtaining power and profit. For the most part, this investment has benefited science and society, leading to new discoveries, inventions, disciplines, specialties, jobs, and career opportunities. However, there is a dark side to the influx of money into science. Unbridled pursuit of financial gain in science can undermine scientific norms, such as objectivity, honesty, openness, respect for research (...) participants, and social responsibility. In The Price of Truth, David B. Resnik examines some of the important and difficult questions resulting from the financial and economic aspects of modern science. How does money affect scientific research? Have scientists become entrepreneurs bent on making money instead of investigators searching for the truth? How does the commercialization of research affect the public's perception of science? Can scientists prevent money from corrupting the research enterprise? What types of rules, polices, and guidelines should scientists adopt to prevent financial interests from adversely affecting research and the public's opinion of science? (shrink)
Various U.S. laws, such as the Clean Air Act and the Food Quality Protection Act, require additional protections for susceptible subpopulations who face greater environmental health risks. The main ethical rationale for providing these protections is to ensure that environmental health risks are distributed fairly. In this article, we consider how several influential theories of justice deal with issues related to the distribution of environmental health risks; show that these theories often fail to provide specific guidance concerning policy choices; and (...) argue that an approach to public decision making known as accountability for reasonableness can complement theories of justice in establishing acceptable environmental health risks for the general population and susceptible subpopulations. Since accountability for reasonableness focuses on the fairness of the decision-making process, not the outcome, it does not guarantee that susceptible subpopulations will receive a maximum level of protection, regardless of costs or other morally relevant considerations. (shrink)
Environmental Health Ethics illuminates the conflicts between protecting the environment and promoting human health. In this study, David B. Resnik develops a method for making ethical decisions on environmental health issues. He applies this method to various issues, including pesticide use, antibiotic resistance, nutrition policy, vegetarianism, urban development, occupational safety, disaster preparedness and global climate change. Resnik provides readers with the scientific and technical background necessary to understand these issues. He explains that environmental health controversies cannot simply be reduced to (...) humanity versus environment and explores the ways in which human values and concerns - health, economic development, rights and justice - interact with environmental protection. (shrink)
Scientific authorship serves to identify and acknowledge individuals who “contribute significantly” to published research. However, specific authorship norms and practices often differ within and across disciplines, labs, and cultures. As a consequence, authorship disagreements are commonplace in team research. This study aims to better understand the prevalence of authorship disagreements, those factors that may lead to disagreements, as well as the extent and nature of resulting misbehavior. Methods include an international online survey of researchers who had published from 2011 to (...) 2015. Of the 6673 who completed the main questions pertaining to authorship disagreement and misbehavior, nearly half reported disagreements regarding authorship naming; and discipline, rank, and gender had significant effects on disagreement rates. Paradoxically, researchers in multidisciplinary teams that typically reflect a range of norms and values, were less likely to have faced disagreements regarding authorship. Respondents reported having witnessed a wide range of misbehavior including: instances of hostility, undermining of a colleague’s work during meetings/talks, cutting corners on research, sabotaging a colleague’s research, or producing fraudulent work to be more competitive. These findings suggest that authorship disputes may contribute to an unhealthy competitive dynamic that can undermine researchers’ wellbeing, team cohesion, and scientific integrity. (shrink)
This essay analyzes the concept of public trust in science and offers some guidance for ethicists, scientists, and policymakers who use this idea defend ethical rules or policies pertaining to the conduct of research. While the notion that public trusts science makes sense in the abstract, it may not be sufficiently focused to support the various rules and policies that authors have tried to derive from it, because the public is not a uniform body with a common set of interests. (...) Well-focused arguments that use public trust to support rules or policies for the conduct of research should specify (a) which public is being referred to (e.g. the general public or a specific public, such as a particular community or group); (b) what this public expects from scientists; (c) how the rule or policy will ensure that these expectations are met; and (d) why is it important to meet these expectations. (shrink)
Biologists in many different fields of research give how-possibly explanations of the phenomena they study. Although such explanations lack empirical support, and might be regarded by some as unscientific, they play an important heuristic role in biology by helping biologists develop theories and concepts and suggesting new areas of research. How-possibly explanations serve as a useful framework for conducting research in the absence of adequate empiri cal data, and they can even become how-actually explanations if they gain enough empirical support.
A growing body of literature has identified potential problems that can compromise the quality, fairness, and integrity of journal peer review, including inadequate review, inconsistent reviewer reports, reviewer biases, and ethical transgressions by reviewers. We examine the evidence concerning these problems and discuss proposed reforms, including double-blind and open review. Regardless of the outcome of additional research or attempts at reforming the system, it is clear that editors are the linchpin of peer review, since they make decisions that have a (...) significant impact on the process and its outcome. We consider some of the steps editors should take to promote quality, fairness and integrity in different stages of the peer review process and make some recommendations for editorial conduct and decision-making. (shrink)
This book fills a gap in the literature on the Precautionary Principle by placing the principle within the wider context of precautionary reasoning and uses philosophical arguments and case studies to demonstrate when it does—and does not—apply. The book invites the reader to take a step back from the controversy surrounding the Precautionary Principle and consider the overarching rationales for responding to threats to the environment or public health. It provides practical guidance and probing insight for the intended audience, including (...) scholars, students, journalists, and policymakers. (shrink)
The therapy-enhancement distinction occupies a central place in contemporary discussions of human genetics and has been the subject of much debate. At a recent conference on gene therapy policy, scientists predicted that within a few years researchers will develop techniques that can be used to enhance human traits. In thinking about the morality of genetic interventions, many writers have defended somatic gene therapy, and some have defended germline gene therapy, but only a handful of writers defend genetic enhancement, or even (...) give it a fair hearing. The mere mention of genetic enhancement makes many people cringe and brings to mind the Nazi eugenics programs, Aldous Huxley's BraveNewWorld, or the recent movie Although many people believe that gene therapy has morally legitimate medical uses, others regard genetic enhancement as morally problematic or decidedly evil. (shrink)
A growing body of evidence has linked consumption of trans fatty acids to cardiovascular disease. To promote public health, numerous state and local governments in the United States have banned the use of artificial trans fats in restaurant foods, and additional bans may follow. Although these policies may have a positive impact on human health, they open the door to excessive government control over food, which could restrict dietary choices, interfere with cultural, ethnic, and religious traditions, and exacerbate socioeconomic inequalities. (...) These slippery slope concerns cannot be dismissed as far-fetched, because the social and political pressures are place to induce additional food regulations. To protect human freedom and other values, policies that significantly restrict food choices, such as bans on types of food, should be adopted only when they are supported by substantial scientific evidence, and when policies that impose fewer restrictions on freedom, such as educational campaigns and product labeling, are likely to be ineffective. (shrink)
This essay reviews six different approaches to intellectual property. It and argues that none of these accounts provide an adequate justification of intellectual property laws and policies because there are many different types of intellectual property, and a variety of incommensurable values play a role in the justification of intellectual property. The best approach to intellectual property is to assess and balance competing moral values in light of the particular facts and circumstances.
Social scientists have begun elucidating the variables that influence public trust in science, yet little is known about hype in biotechnology and its effects on public trust. Many scholars claim that hyping biotechnology results in a loss of public trust, and possibly public enthusiasm or support for science, because public expectations of the biotechnological promises will be unmet. We argue for the need for empirical research that examines the relationships between hype, public trust, and public enthusiasm/support. We discuss the complexities (...) in designing empirical studies that provide evidence for a causal link between hype, public trust, and public enthusiasm/support, but also illustrate how this may be remedied. Further empirical research on hype and public trust is needed in order to improve public communication of science and to design evidence-based education on the responsible conduct of research for scientists. We conclude that conceptual arguments made on hype and public trust must be nuanced to reflect our current understanding of this relationship. (shrink)
Effective community engagement is an important legal, ethical, and practical prerequisite for conducting field trials of genetically modified mosquitoes, because these studies can substantially impact communities and it is usually not possible to obtain informed consent from each community member. Researchers who are planning to conduct field trials should develop a robust community engagement strategy that meets widely recognized standards for seeking approval from the affected population, such as timeliness, consent, information sharing, transparency, understanding, responsiveness, mutual understanding, inclusiveness, and respectfulness. (...) Additional research is needed on the effectiveness of different methods of engaging communities in field trials of genetically modified mosquitoes and how to respond to public opposition to genetically modified organisms. For research programs involving the genetic modification of disease vectors to move forward, they must have public acceptance and support, which cannot be achieved without effective community engagement. (shrink)
Traditional debates about scientific realism tend to focus on issues concerning scientific representation and de-emphasize issues concerning scientific intervention. Questions about the relation between theories and the world, the nature of scientific inference, and the structure of scientific explanations have occupied a central place in the realism debate, while questions about experimentation and technology have not. Ian Hacking's experimental realism attempts to reverse this trend by shifting the defense of realism away from representation to intervention. Experimental realism, according to Hacking, (...) does not require us to believe that our theories are true, nor does its defense depend on inference to the best explanation. For Hacking, the strongest proof for realism is that we can manipulate objects: 'So far as I'm concerned, if you can spray them, then they are real'. (shrink)
The question of how to distinguish between science and non-science, the so-called ‘demarcation problem’, is one of the most high-profile, perennial, and intractable issues in the philosophy of science. It is not merely a philosophical issue, however, since it has a significant bearing on practical policy questions and practical decisions. This essay develops a pragmatic approach to the demarcation problem: it argues that while there are some core principles that we can use in distinguishing between science and non-science, particular judgments (...) and decisions about something's scientific status depend, in part, on practical goals and concerns. (shrink)
The precautionary principle holds that we should not allow scientific uncertainty to prevent us from taking precautionary measures in response to potential threats that are irreversible and potentially disastrous. Critics of the principle claim that it deters progress and development, is excessively risk-aversive and is unscientific. This paper argues that the principle can be scientific provided that the threats addressed by the principle are plausible threats, and the precautionary measures adopted are reasonable. The paper also argues that one may use (...) epistemic criteria, such as consistency, coherence and explanatory power, to determine whether a threat is plausible, and that one may use practical considerations, such as effectiveness, proportionality, cost-effectiveness, realism and consistency, to determine whether a response to a threat is reasonable. (shrink)
Healthy volunteers in biomedical research often face significant risks in studies that offer them no medical benefits. The U.S. federal research regulations and laws adopted by other countries place no limits on the risks that these participants face. In this essay, I argue that there should be some limits on the risks for biomedical research involving healthy volunteers. Limits on risk are necessary to protect human participants, institutions, and the scientific community from harm. With the exception of self-experimentation, limits on (...) research risks faced by healthy volunteers constitute a type of soft, impure paternalism because participants usually do not fully understand the risks they are taking. I consider some approaches to limiting research risks and propose that healthy volunteers in biomedical research should not be exposed to greater than a 1% chance of serious harm, such as death, permanent disability, or severe illness or injury. While this guideline would restrict research risks, the limits would not be so low that they would prevent investigators from conducting valuable research. They would, however, set a clear upper boundary for investigators and signal to the scientific community and the public that there are limits on the risks that healthy participants may face in research. This standard provides guidance for decisions made by oversight bodies, but it is not an absolute rule. Investigators can enroll healthy volunteers in studies involving a greater than 1% chance of serious harm if they show that the research addresses a compelling public health or social problem and that the risk of serious harm is only slightly more than 1%. The committee reviewing the research should use outside experts to assess these risks. (shrink)
This paper discusses the economic, legal, moral, and political difficulties in developing drugs for the developing world. It argues that large, global pharmaceutical companies have social responsibilities to the developing world, and that they may exercise these responsibilities by investing in research and development related to diseases that affect developing nations, offering discounts on drug prices, and initiating drug giveaways. However, these social responsibilities are not absolute requirements and may be balanced against other obligations and commitments in light of economic, (...) social, legal, political, and other conditions. How a company decides to exercise its social responsibilities to the developing world depends on the prospects for a reasonable profit and the prospects for a productive business environment. Developing nations can either help or hinder the pharmaceutical industry’s efforts to exercise social responsibility through various policies and practices. To insure that companies can make a reasonable profit, developing nations should honor pharmaceutical product patents and adhere to international intellectual property treaties, such as the Trade‐Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights agreement. To insure the companies have a good business environment, developing nations should try to promote the rule of law, ethical business practices, stable currencies, reliable banking systems, free and open markets, democracy, and other conditions conducive to business. Overall, this paper advocates for reciprocity and cooperation between pharmaceutical companies and developing nations to address the problem of developing drugs for the developing world. In pursuing this cooperative approach, developing nations may use a variety of other techniques to encourage pharmaceutical companies to act responsibly, such as subsidizing pharmaceutical research, helping to design and implement research protocols, providing a guaranteed market, and bulk buying. (shrink)
Authorship is commonly used as the basis for the measurement of research productivity. It influences career progression and rewards, making it a valued commodity in a competitive scientific environment. To better understand authorship practices amongst collaborative teams, this study surveyed authors on collaborative journal articles published between 2011 and 2015. Of the 8364 respondents, 1408 responded to the final open-ended question, which solicited additional comments or remarks regarding the fair distribution of authorship in research teams. This paper presents the analysis (...) of these comments, categorized into four main themes: disagreements, questionable behavior, external influences regarding authorship, and values promoted by researchers. Results suggest that some respondents find ways to effectively manage disagreements in a collegial fashion. Conversely, others explain how distribution of authorship can become a “blood sport” or a “horror story” which can negatively affect researchers’ wellbeing, scientific productivity and integrity. Researchers fear authorship discussions and often try to avoid openly discussing the situation which can strain team interactions. Unethical conduct is more likely to result from deceit, favoritism, and questionable mentorship and may become more egregious when there is constant bullying and discrimination. Although values of collegiality, transparency and fairness were promoted by researchers, rank and need for success often overpowered ethical decision-making. This research provides new insight into contextual specificities related to fair authorship distribution that can be instrumental in developing applicable training tools to identify, prevent, and mitigate authorship disagreement. (shrink)
The idea that research with human participants should benefit society has become firmly entrenched in various regulations, policies, and guidelines, but there has been little in-depth analysis of this ethical principle in the bioethics literature. In this paper, I distinguish between strong and weak versions and the social benefits principle and examine six arguments for it. I argue that while it is always ethically desirable for research with human subjects to offer important benefits to society, the reasonable expectation of substantial (...) public benefit should be a necessary condition for regarding research as ethical only when it imposes more than minimal risks on non-consenting subjects; or it is supported by public resources. (shrink)
Openness is one of the most important principles in scientifi c inquiry, but there are many good reasons for maintaining secrecy in research, ranging from the desire to protect priority, credit, and intellectual property, to the need to safeguard the privacy of research participants or minimize threats to national or international security. This article examines the clash between openness and secrecy in science in light of some recent developments in information technology, business, and politics, and makes some practical suggestions for (...) resolving confl icts between openness and secrecy. (shrink)
Most of the discussion in bioethics and health policy concerning social responsibility for health has focused on society’s obligation to provide access to healthcare. While ensuring access to healthcare is an important social responsibility, societies can promote health in many other ways, such as through sanitation, pollution control, food and drug safety, health education, disease surveillance, urban planning and occupational health. Greater attention should be paid to strategies for health promotion other than access to healthcare, such as environmental and public (...) health and health research.Lifestyle plays a major role in most of the illnesses in industrialised nations.1 Six of the 10 leading factors contributing to the global burden of disease are lifestyle related: unsafe sex, high blood pressure, tobacco use, alcohol use, high cholesterol and obesity.2 Lifestyle-related illnesses also contribute to the rising costs of healthcare. Spending on healthcare accounts for about 16% of the gross domestic product in the USA, or US$1.9 trillion.3 Although smoking has declined steadily there since the 1960s, smoking-related medical expenses are still about US$75.5 billion per year.4 Obesity, which has been climbing in the past two decades, accounts for about US$75 billion in healthcare costs there each year.5 Alcoholism and drug addiction in the USA account for annual healthcare costs of about US$22.5 billion and US$12 billion, respectively.6,7 Federal government spending on healthcare relating to HIV/AIDS is over US$13 billion per year.8Given the well-documented relationship between lifestyle, disease burden and healthcare costs, it makes economic and medical sense to hold individuals morally responsible for their health-related choices. While this view has a great deal of intuitive appeal, it also faces numerous objections.9–12 First, holding individuals entirely responsible for their own health conflicts with medicine’s obligation to treat the sick and society’s obligation …. (shrink)
Financial relationships in academic research can create institutional conflicts of interest because the financial interests of the institution or institutional officials may inappropriately influence decision-making. Strategies for dealing with institutional COIs include establishing institutional COI committees that involve the board of trustees in conflict review and management, developing policies that shield institutional decisions from inappropriate influences, and establishing private foundations that are independent of the institution to own stock and intellectual property and to provide capital to start-up companies.
In little more than 30 years, China has recovered from the intellectual stagnation brought about by the Cultural Revolution to become a global leader in science and technology. Like other leading countries in science and technology, China has encountered some ethical problems related to the conduct of research. China 's leaders have taken some steps to respond to these problems, such as developing ethics policies and establishing oversight committees. To keep moving forward, China needs to continue to take effective action (...) to promote research integrity. Some of the challenges China faces include additional policy development, promoting education in responsible conduct of research, protecting whistle-blowers, and cultivating an ethical research environment. (shrink)
This essay analyzesexploitation in biomedical research in terms ofthree basic elements: harm, disrespect, orinjustice. There are also degrees ofexploitation, ranging from highly exploitationto minimally exploitation. Althoughexploitation is prima facie wrongful,some exploitative research studies are morallyjustified, all things considered. The reasonan exploitative study can still be ethical isthat other moral considerations, such as theautonomy of the research subject or the socialbenefits of research, may sometimes justifystudies that are minimally exploitative. Calling a research project exploitative doesnot end the debate about the merits (...) of thestudy but invites one to ask additionalquestions about how the study is exploitative,and whether the study is justifiablenevertheless. (shrink)
The phrase “minimal risk,” as defined in the United States’ federal research regulations, is ambiguous and poorly defined. This article argues that most of the ambiguity that one finds in the phrase stems from the “daily life risks” standard in the definition of minimal risk. In this article, the author argues that the daily life risks standard should be dropped and that “minimal risk” should be defined as simply “the probability and magnitude of the harm or discomfort anticipated in research (...) are not greater than those encountered during the performance of routine physical or psychological examinations or tests”. (shrink)
The first stage of the human embryonic stem(ES) cell research debate revolved aroundfundamental questions, such as whether theresearch should be done at all, what types ofresearch may be done, who should do theresearch, and how the research should befunded. Now that some of these questions arebeing answered, we are beginning to see thenext stage of the debate: the battle forproperty rights relating to human ES cells. The reason why property rights will be a keyissue in this debate is simple and (...) easy tounderstand: it costs a great deal of money todo this research, to develop new products, andto implement therapies; and private companies,researchers, and health professionals requirereturns on investments and reimbursements forgoods and services. This paper considersarguments for and against property rightsrelating to ES cells defends the followingpoints: (1) It should be legal to buy and sellES cells and products. (2) It should be legalto patent ES cells, products, and relatedtechnologies. (3) It should not be legal tobuy, sell, or patent human embryos. (4) Patentson ES cells, products, and related technologiesshould not be excessively broad. (5) Patents onES cells, products, and related technologiesshould be granted only when applicants statedefinite, plausible uses for their inventions. (6) There should be a research exemption in EScell patenting to allow academic scientists toconduct research in regenerative medicine. (7)It may be appropriate to take steps to preventcompanies from using patents in ES cells,products, and related technologies only toblock competitors. (8) As the field ofregenerative medicine continues to develop,societies should revisit issues relating toproperty rights on a continuing basis in orderto develop policies and develop regulations tomaximize the social, medical, economic, andscientific benefits of ES cell research andproduct development. (shrink)
Sarah Conly defends paternalistic public health policies, such as New York City’s soft drink ban, on the grounds that they promote values that people accept but have difficulty realizing, owing to their cognitive biases. In this commentary, I criticize Conly’s defense of the soft drink ban and offer my own view of the justification for paternalistic food and beverage policies. I propose that paternalistic government restrictions on food and beverage choices should address a significant health problem pertaining to a specific (...) type or class of food or beverage. There should also be substantial evidence that the restrictions are likely to be effective at dealing with the problem and that alternative ways of dealing with it, which do not involve coercion, are likely to be ineffective. (shrink)
This essay develops a framework for thinking about the moral basis for the commodification of human reproductive materials. It argues that selling and buying gametes and genes is morally acceptable although there should not be a market for zygotes, embryos, or genomes. Also a market in gametes and genes should be regulated in order to address concerns about the adverse social consequences of commodification.
The precautionary principle is a useful strategy for decision-making when physicians and patients lack evidence relating to the potential outcomes associated with various choices. According to a version of the principle defended here, one should take reasonable measures to avoid threats that are serious and plausible. The reasonableness of a response to a threat depends on several factors, including benefit vs. harm, realism, proportionality, and consistency. Since a concept of reasonableness plays an essential role in applying the precautionary principle, this (...) principle gives physicians and patients a decision-making strategy that encourages the careful weighing and balancing of different values that one finds in humanistic approaches to clinical reasoning. Properly understood, the principle presents a worthwhile alternative to approaches to clinical reasoning that apply expected utility theory to decision problems. (shrink)
This essay discusses some of the problems with current authorship practices and puts forward a proposal for a new system of credit allocation: in published works, scientists should more clearly define the responsibilities and contributions of members of research teams and should distinguish between different roles, such as author, statistican, technician, grant writer, data collector, and so forth.
Multiple authorship is becoming increasingly common in bioethics research. There are well-established criteria for authorship in empirical bioethics research but not for conceptual research. It is important to develop criteria for authorship in conceptual publications to prevent undeserved authorship and uphold standards of fairness and accountability. This article explores the issue of multiple authorship in bioethics and develops criteria for determining who should be an author on a conceptual publication in bioethics. Authorship in conceptual research should be based on contributing (...) substantially to: (1) identifying a topic, problem, or issue to study; (2) reviewing and interpreting the relevant literature; (3) formulating, analyzing, and evaluating arguments that support one or more theses; (4) responding to objections and counterarguments; and (5) drafting the manuscript and approving the final version. Authors of conceptual publications should participate substantially in at least two of areas (1)?(5). (shrink)
Most of the literature on phase one trials has focused on ethical and safety issues in research on patients with advanced cancer, but this article focuses on healthy, adult subjects. The article makes six specific recommendations for protecting the rights and welfare of healthy subjects in phase one trials: 1) because phase one trials are short in duaration (usually 1 to 3 months), researchers should gather more data on the short-term and long-term risks of participation in phase one studies by (...) healthy subjects; 2) researchers should develop strict inclusion/exclusion criteria that exclude unhealthy or vulnerable subjects, such as decisionally impaired people, in phase one studies; 3) subjects should not participate in more than one phase one study at the same time and should wait at least 30 days between participating in different studies; 4) researchers should develop a database to keep track of phase one participants; 5) subjects should be guaranteed a minimum wage equivalent to the equivalent type of unskilled labor, but there should be no upper limits on wages; and 6) subjects should be allowed to engage in collective bargaining with research sponsors. *Disclaimer: The ideas and opinions expressed in this article are the authors' personal views and do not represent the views of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the National Institutes of Health, or the United States government. (shrink)
Elliott Sober (1987, 1993) and Orzack and Sober (forthcoming) argue that adaptationism is a very general hypothesis that can be tested by testing various particular hypotheses that invoke natural selection to explain the presence of traits in populations of organisms. In this paper, I challenge Sobers claim that adaptationism is an hypothesis and I argue that it is best viewed as a heuristic (or research strategy). Biologists would still have good reasons for employing this research strategy even if it turns (...) out that natural selection is not the most important cause of evolution. (shrink)
We examined all 208 closed cases involving official findings of research misconduct published by the US Office of Research Integrity from 1992 to 2011 to determine how often scientists mention in a retraction or correction notice that there was an ethical problem with an associated article. 75 of these cases cited at least one published article affected by misconduct for a total of 174 articles. For 127 of these 174, we found both the article and a retraction or correction statement. (...) Since eight of the 127 published statements consisted of simply the word ‘retracted,’ our analysis focused on the remaining 119 for which a more detailed retraction or correction was published. Of these 119 statements, only 41.2% mentioned ethics at all (and only 32.8% named a specific ethical problem such as fabrication, falsification or plagiarism), whereas the other 58.8% described the reason for retraction or correction as error, loss of data or replication failure when misconduct was actually at issue. Among the published statements in response to an official finding of misconduct (within the time frame studied), the proportion that mentioned ethics was significantly higher in recent years than in earlier years, as was the proportion that named a specific problem. To promote research integrity, scientific journals should consider adopting policies concerning retractions and corrections similar to the guidelines developed by the Committee on Publication Ethics. Funding agencies and institutions should take steps to ensure that articles affected by misconduct are retracted or corrected. (shrink)
Health policy frameworks usually construe environmental protection and human health as harmonious values. Policies that protect the environment, such as pollution control and pesticide regulation, also benefit human health. In recent years, however, it has become apparent that promoting human health sometimes undermines environmental protection. Some actions, policies, or technologies that reduce human morbidity, mortality, and disease can have detrimental effects on the environment. Since human health and environmental protection are sometimes at odds, political leaders, citizens, and government officials need (...) a way to mediate and resolve conflicts between these values. Unfortunately, few approaches to applied bioethics have the conceptual tools to do accomplish this task. Theories of health care ethics have little to say about the environment, and theories of environmental ethics don’t say much about human health. In this essay, I defend an approach to ethical decision-making that gives policy-makers some tools for balancing promotion of human health and protection of the environment. (shrink)
This article reports the results of an anonymous survey of researchers at a government research institution concerning their perceptions about ethical problems with journal peer review. Incompetent review was the most common ethical problem reported by the respondents, with 61.8% (SE = 3.3%) claiming to have experienced this at some point during peer review. Bias (50.5%, SE = 3.4%) was the next most common problem. About 22.7% (SE = 2.8%) of respondents said that a reviewer had required them to include (...) unnecessary references to his/her publication(s), 17.7% (SE = 2.6%) said that comments from reviewers had included personal attacks, and 9.6% (SE = 2.0%) stated that reviewers had delayed publication to publish a paper on the same topic. Two of the most serious violations of peer review ethics, breach of confidentiality (6.8%, SE = 1.7%) and using ideas, data, or methods without permission (5%, SE = 1.5%) were perceived less often than the other problems. We recommend that other investigators follow up on our exploratory research with additional studies on the ethics of peer review. (shrink)
Inappropriate authorship is a common problem in biomedical research and may be becoming one in bioethics, due to the increase in multiple authorship. This paper investigates the authorship policies of bioethics journals to determine whether they provide adequate guidance for researchers who submit articles for publication, which can help deter inappropriate authorship. It was found that 63.3% of bioethics journals provide no guidance on authorship; 36.7% provide guidance on which contributions merit authorship, 23.3% provide guidance on which contributions do not (...) merit authorship, 23.3% require authors to take responsibility for their contributions or for the article as a whole, 20% provide guidance on which contributions merit an acknowledgement but not authorship, 6.7% require authors to describe their contributions, and only 3.3% distinguish between authorship in empirical and conceptual research. To provide authors with effective guidance and promote integrity in bioethics research, bioethics journals should adopt authorship policies that address several important topics, such as the qualifications for authorship, describing authorship contributions, taking responsibility for the research and the difference between authorship in empirical and conceptual research. (shrink)