HW3proj and H3case (topic: ethics in research)

(Updated 9/25/2017)

HW3proj and HW3case

HW3proj, Ethics in the Profession, due Friday, Sept. 29, 2017

Note: Professional neatness and clarity of format count! Follow this template and example.

  1. For your ethics-related term project (see “Course Information” tab for details): Let us continue to develop it step by step over the semester so that it will be manageable rather than a crunch at the end, as follows. Write up 349 words or more (per person if a group project) if your project is a writing project. If it is not a writing project, do work on the project equivalent in effort to writing 349 words or more, and explain what you did (in less than 349 words!), giving examples (code, for example) if that makes sense. Put this in your blog, labeling it consistently per the template and example.
  2. Explain what needs to be done next on the project. Put this in your blog, labeling it consistently per the template and example.

HW3case

Due dates for in-class students:

  • Q1 is due Monday, Oct. 2, 2017 at the beginning of class
  • Q2 is due Monday or Wednesday, Oct. 2 or 4, 2017, during class
  • Q3 is due Monday, Oct. 9, 2017

Due date for online students:

  • All Qs due Monday, Oct. 9, 2017

Note 1: Professional neatness and clarity of format counts! In-class students see this example. Online students see this example.

1. Prepare case notes on an ethics case related to ethics in science or engineering research. If you are an in-class student, these should be usable in class for presenting your ethics case to your group and leading the group in discussing it on one of the two class days devoted to group discussion for this unit. (Online students can use them to help with the other parts of this HW.) In-class students (due M 10/2/17 before class): you will use these notes in class, so show them to me right before class so I can note down that you get credit for Q1:

  • Print them out on paper, or
  • Write them by hand on a sheet of paper, or
  • Display them on a smartphone, tablet, or laptop (not the desk computer in the classroom, because group dynamics work better when the discussion leader does not need to face or turn toward a stationary computer).

Online students: post your notes to your blog.

Your notes should include the following.

  • A link or other citation to the case you are using, or if it is from personal experience, point that out.
  • A list of 8 or more important facts about the case. These could help you tell your group members or anyone or remind yourself what the case is all about.
  • A list of questions (6 or more) you could ask your group members in order to get an interesting and enlightening discussion going (for in-class students), or that you could consider yourself or ask someone else about (for online students); see the “Questions to ask during discussion” tab on the course web page for some suggestions in developing your discussion questions.

2. In-class students: On either Monday or Wednesday, explain your case to your group and lead discussion on it. Divide the two 50-minute classes into parts so that each person in your group gets to lead discussion about their case. It is ok, however, if some discussions end up taking longer than others, as long as everyone gets a turn.When another member of your discussion group is leading, help them out, and sharpen your thinking skills, by listening and participating in the discussion. Doing other things, using your phone, etc., will lose points. NOTE: When another member of your discussion group is leading, help them by participating in the discussion.

Online students: Explain the case and discuss the questions you devised about it. Post this on your blog.

3. Write up your case on your blog with the following subheadings:

  • “The facts of the case.” Here is where you describe the case in your own words.
  • “Analysis.” Examine the case in terms of the (i) consequentialist, (ii) deontological, and (iii) Humean (or more generally the virtue ethics) approaches.
  • “Conclusions.” Your analysis, opinions, and conclusions about the case. Your group members’ opinions and why they are or are not valid.
  • “Future environment.” Describe your vision of a future in which technology is more advanced than today, or society has changed in some significant way, such that the ethical issues of the case would be even more important than they are in today’s world. 3 sentences of average length or more.
  • “Future scenario.” Describe how this ethical case (or an analogous one) would or should play out in the environment of the future, and give your opinions about it. 3 sentences of average length or more.
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Philosopher David Hume’s “An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals”

(Updated 10/9/17)

David Hume

  • Born 1711, Edinburgh (“ED-n-Ber-o”), Scotland
  • “most important philosopher ever to write in English” – SEP
    • …but 18th century English is a bit different from today!
  • Father died when he was two
    • …Mother left with him and 2 younger siblings
  • Entered university age 12
    • …Mother encouraged law
    • Yet he possessed:
      •  “an…aversion to everything but…philosophy and general learning”
  • Left the university at 15, no degree
  • Later wrote several major works
    • including a 6-volume history of England
preview image
Painting of David Hume.jpg
Hume on ethics
  • Wrote “An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals” in 1751
    • – Chapter length (not a book)
  • What was his conclusion?
    • Logic and reason are not  the root of ethics
      • So what else could be the root, then?
    • The passions are key – emotion and feeling
  • …wrote Hume. What do you think?

 

 

 

 

“Section 1. Of the General Principles of Morals”
  • Does ethics spring from REASON or SENTIMENT?
    • If reason:
      • ethics must be the same for…
      • robots, Martians, and humans
    • If sentiment (feeling, intuition, emotion):
    • human ethics is…
      • distinct…
      • …maybe even unique
  • That’s a pretty important difference!
  • Should ethics ever be the same for robots, Martians, and humans?
  • Should ethics ever *not* be the same for robots, Martians, and humans?
  • What about humans and chimpanzees?
    • (Reference: Frans de Waal, Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex Among Apes, p. 207, 1982, Harper and Row, Publishers, Inc.)
      • – Nikkie tried to attack Luit
      • – Puist helped Luit fend off Nikkie
      • – Nikkie then attacked Puist
      • – Luit watched, did nothing
      • – Puist attacked Luit “furiously”
    • Why?
    • Is there a universal sentiment here?
    • Would Martians see it differently?
    • Would a race of superintelligent fish?
    • Robots?

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Problem:
    • If sentiment, then…
      • we might disagree
      • yet there is nothing to argue about
        • you think murder is bad
        • drug smuggler gangs think it’s fine
        • you like chocolate ice cream
        • I prefer strawberry
  • Can ethics even exist?
  • Do we even need ethics?
    • What would happen if ethics did not exist?
      • ethics tells us our basic duties
      • no ethics – no reason to avoid bad things
      • society as we know it requires ethics
      • Some people seem to disagree
    • Sociopathic personality disorder
      • Person with no ethics
      • Appears to be biological in part
      • Actual differences in brain structure
      • What might that say about ethics?
  • Let’s try logic instead…
    • construct ethics from pure reason
      • Can you do it?
      • Even a little?
      • Example:
        • Spinoza wrote a book:
        • the Ethics
    • problem: people won’t care a lot
    • people will ignore it!
    • like going 1 mph over the speed limit
    • what about a body of law as an ethical code?
    • so, logic fails to provide ethics too
  • Any alternative to sentiment and logic?
  • Received ethical codes
    • E.g. the Bible
    • Does that solve the problem?
  • Saving sentiment-based ethics
    • First, reason has a place
    • Second, some sentiments are universal
      • a universal sentiment
        is
        a foundation for ethics
      • IMO, sociopathic personality disorder says something about this
  • Universal (human) sentiments
  • – Let’s list some!
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
“Section II. Of Benevolence”
  • Hume focuses on benevolence
    • Some people envy heroes
    • But nobody envied Mother Theresa
      • despite her success and earned rank
    • Therefore benevolence is universally liked
  • Benevolence is liked because
    • it usually has good consequences for society(?)
    • recall “consequentialism”
“Can anything stronger be said
in praise of a profession…
than to observe the advantages
which it procures to society?”
– Hume
Do you agree?
“In all determinations of morality…
public utility is ever principally in view”
– Hume
Agree?
.
.
“Upon the whole, then,
it seems undeniable,
that nothing can bestow more merit
on any human creature than
the sentiment of benevolence
in an eminent degree;
and that a part, at least,
of its merit
arises from its tendency to
promote the interests of our species,
and
bestow happiness on human society.”
– Hume
.
Let me try to paraphrase Hume:
Undeniably,
a person who is benevolent
is a good person, because
benevolence is good, because
it helps society and
produces happiness.
How accurate was that?
Do you agree with it?
.
This, then is Hume’s proposal
for a foundation for ethics:
  • sentiment-based, consequentialist –
  • “…benevolence and humanity, friendship and gratitude, natural affection and public spirit, or whatever proceeds from a tender sympathy with others, and a generous concern for our kind and species.” – Hume
  • Agree?
.
.
“Section III. Of Justice”
 (gets into property as the major example)
If the technological singularity arrives and everyone has whatever they want, there would be no need or desire for property
When society is in a state of extreme deprivation, property is ignored (p. 164).

Trajectories of the Future

(Updated 9/12/12)

Related reference:
http://www.kurzweilai.net/thinking-quantitatively-about-technological-progress)

An Example of Extrapolation:

Overpopulation on Mars

Suppose we started a self-sustaining colony

100 colonists

What is your estimated rate of increase per year?

What is the total population capacity of Mars?

Earth surface area = 510,072,000 km^2

Earth land area     = 148,940,000 km^2

Mars surface area = 144,798,500 km^2

           (0.284 of Earth)

How long do you think it will take for Mars to overpopulate?

We can check this using a spreadsheet!

Just have the rows represent successive years

Each year has x% more people than the previous

See how many years go by until overpopulation!

Making and Discuss Predictions with Trajectories

Let’s apply the following to:

        a few ethics cases…

We will see how…

        Trajectories of change

In the short term, change appears linear

(what do the axes represent?)

Example:

      Last year you had 1 or 2 compact fluorescent bulbs

      This year you will “probably have 1-2 more”

In the longer term, change often looks exponential

Lightbulb example:

       you start with 1-2,

       but after a couple of years

       you’ve got a whole bunch

Change accelerates, in this case

      If you look at an exponential curve

      with a microscope,

      what does it look like?

“Exponential”:

       Complicated word

       Tricky math

       Simple concept

             Goes up faster and faster

             Has a doubling time

(Could also slow, have halving time)

Exponential curves explained

       Suppose something doubles every 3 years

       Popular example:

            Computer chip complexity doubles every 2 years

            New value after t years is starting value T times 2^(t/3)

                     f(t)=*2^(t/3)

                           Why does this double every 3 years?

         It can work for

               Any factor of increase

               Any time constant

Longer term, things “Level Off”: the S-curve

Also called “logistic curve”

     Sort of “linear” early on

     Then looks “exponential”

     Then levels off

    Justified by many, many diverse phenomena modelable as:

       Malthusian scenarios

       Constructal Theory scenarios

A. Bejan and S. Lorente, The constructal law origin of the logistics S curve, Journal of Applied Physics, vol. 110 (2011), 024901, www.constructal.org/en/art/S-curve.pdf.

 

Do you think an even longer-term view will look like a plateau shaped curve?

Think about quill pens, ball point pens, incandescent bulbs, compact fluorescents, etc., etc.

What do you think of these curves?

(Source: http://nextbigfuture.com/2010/08/white-led-lights-with-135-lumens-per.html, 9/5/10)

How might this apply to technology-related ethics problems?

HW1proj and HW1case

Updated 1/20/15, 8/18/15, 1/19/16, 1/15/17, 8/23/17

Here are the first two homeworks for IFSC 2200, Ethics and the Profession. The one due soonest is HW1proj, and the one due after that is HW1case…

HW1proj (due Monday, Aug. 28, 2017 (soon!)

For your ethics-related term project (see course information tab for details): You will develop it step by step over the semester so that it will be manageable rather than a crunch at the end. So start now! Brainstorm about what topic you would like to explore for your project, and what sort of formats you might choose from (commonly a report, but can also be a fictional story, computer program, skit script, music, rap, art, web site development, etc., etc.). Note that it can be either an individual project, or a team project with whoever you want to work with.

Professional neatness and clarity of format counts! See this example.

  • 1. List several possibilities you are considering for a topic/subject of your project, unless you already are sure what you want to do. If you already have decided what topic, then explain what options and possibilities you see related to that topic There should be some connection to the course, but mostly it is up to you – you should seek a topic that you would find interesting to dig into. Length requirement: at least 10 sentences or bullet points. Put your answer in your blog like this.
  • 2. List the possibilities you are considering for project format, the pluses and minuses of each, and your preferences and opinions. Also discuss the question of individual vs. group project. Length requirement: at least 10 sentences or bullet points. Put your answer in your blog like this.
  • 3. (a) Go the the “Course Information” tab on the course web site. Read about the course, especially the parts about the project. Note on your blog any questions you have, or note that you don’t have any questions, like this. (b) Then go to the “Syllabus” tab on the course web site.  Read over it. Note on your blog any questions you have, or note that you don’t have any questions, like this.

Note: Email the instructor your blog address (jdberleant@ualr.edu) if you didn’t make your blog in class and give the instructor its URL there.

HW1case

Due dates for in-class students:

  • Q1 is due Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2017 at the beginning of class
  • Q2 will be done in class on either W Aug. 30 or W Sept. 6
  • Monday Sept. 4 is Labor Day vacation, no class
  • Q3 is due Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017

Due date for online students:

  • All Qs due Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017

Professional neatness and clarity of format counts! (In-class students: see this example. Online students: see that example.)

  1. Prepare case notes on an ethics case related to intellectual property. If you are an in-class student, these should be usable in class for presenting your ethics case to your group and leading the group in discussing it on one of the two case discussion days. (Online students can use them to help with the other parts of this HW.) In-class students (due W 8/30/17 at the start of class): you will use these notes in class, so show them to me when class begins so I can note down that you get credit for Q1:
    • Print them out on paper, or
    • Write them by hand on a sheet of paper, or
    • Display them on a smartphone, tablet, or laptop (but not the desk computer in the classroom, because group dynamics work better when the discussion leader does not need to face or turn toward a stationary computer)

    Online students: post your notes to your blog.

    Your notes should include the following.

    • A link or other citation to the case you are using, or if it is from personal experience, point that out.
    • A list of 8 or more important facts about the case. These could help you tell your group members or anyone or remind yourself what the case is all about.
    • A list of questions (6 or more) you could ask your group members in order to get an interesting and enlightening discussion going (for in-class students), or that you could consider yourself or ask someone else about (for online students); see the “Questions to ask during discussion” tab on the course web page for some suggestions in developing your discussion questions.

Hint: To find cases to discuss related to intellectual property, you could for example do a web search on:

ethics cases

or use news articles, personal experience, things you found on the web, on paper, etc.

2. In-class students: During one of the two class days devoted to group discussion during this unit, explain your case to your group and lead discussion on it. Divide the two 50-minute classes into parts so that each person in your group gets to lead discussion about their case. It is ok, however, if some discussions end up taking longer than others.When another member of your discussion group is leading, help them out, and sharpen your thinking skills, by listening and participating in the discussion. Avoid doing other things, using your phone, etc., which could lose points and, more importantly, reduce the quality and cohesiveness of the group discussion.

Online students: Explain the case and discuss the questions you devised about it. Post this on your blog.

3. Write up your case on your blog with the following subheadings:

“The facts of the case.” Here is where you describe the case in your own words.

“Analysis.” Examine the case in terms of the consequentialist and deontological approaches.

“My conclusions.” Your conclusions and opinions about the case. Be sure to explain and justify what you write. 3 sentences of average length or more.

“Future environment.” Describe your vision of a future in which technology is more advanced than today, or society has changed in some significant way, such that the ethical issues of the case would be even more important than they are in today’s world. 3 sentences of average length or more.

“Future scenario.” Describe how this ethical case (or an analogous one) would or should play out in the environment of the future, and give your opinions about it. 3 sentences of average length or more.

End of HW1case


[The following version of HW1case #3 is here as a historical record only, but is no longer on this HW because (a) the system arbitrarily defines plagiarism as 7 words in a row, suggesting 6 is ok, (b) requires a page number for cited quotes or it presumably counts as plagiarism (rather than, say, poor citation practice), (c) source material contains bolded and non-bolded passages and presumably the test taker is supposed to base the answer on the bolded passages even though the instructions say nothing about it (to be fair, maybe the tutorials make that clear), and (d) the ancillary site content says something about tests being at the expert level even though arguably the undergraduate version is actually not. There are just too many problems (8/23/17). Also it is nice for Q3 to be consistent with future HWs… Avoiding plagiarism, that is, improper copying, is an important academic principle and skill, and is also an important part of any university’s moral code. Thus, learning more about it fits nicely into this course, because what someone writes is intellectual property and there are ethical considerations about property, intellectual or other (maybe it’s theirs, maybe their employer’s, or maybe they sold it to another party). It is also highly applicable in real life when you have to prepare reports and need to give credit to your sources of information. Work through the online tutorial on plagiarism https://www.indiana.edu/~istd/. Email me with any questions and/or discuss with your group. Take the online test that the site offers, and get the self-study certificate that the site offersTake a screen shot of the certificate and email it to me at jdberleant@ualr.edu (don’t put it on your blog).]