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Journal Cover Science and Engineering Ethics
  [SJR: 0.566]   [H-I: 25]   [6 followers]  Follow
   Hybrid Journal Hybrid journal (It can contain Open Access articles)
   ISSN (Print) 1471-5546 - ISSN (Online) 1353-3452
   Published by Springer-Verlag Homepage  [2281 journals]
  • Risk, Uncertainty and Precaution in Science: The Threshold of the
           Toxicological Concern Approach in Food Toxicology
    • Abstract: Abstract Environmental risk assessment is often affected by severe uncertainty. The frequently invoked precautionary principle helps to guide risk assessment and decision-making in the face of scientific uncertainty. In many contexts, however, uncertainties play a role not only in the application of scientific models but also in their development. Building on recent literature in the philosophy of science, this paper argues that precaution should be exercised at the stage when tools for risk assessment are developed as well as when they are used to inform decision-making. The relevance and consequences of this claim are discussed in the context of the threshold of the toxicological concern approach in food toxicology. I conclude that the approach does not meet the standards of an epistemic version of the precautionary principle.
      PubDate: 2016-05-18
  • Notices and Policies for Retractions, Expressions of Concern, Errata and
           Corrigenda: Their Importance, Content, and Context
    • Abstract: Abstract A retraction notice is an essential scientific historical document because it should outline the reason(s) why a scientific manuscript was retracted, culpability (if any) and any other factors that have given reason for the authors, editors, or publisher, to remove a piece of the literature from science’s history books. Unlike an expression of concern (EoC), erratum or corrigendum, a retraction will usually result in a rudimentary vestige of the work. Thus, any retraction notice that does not fully indicate a set of elements related to the reason and background for the retraction serves as a poor historical document. Moreover, poorly or incompletely worded retraction notices in fact do not serve their intended purpose, i.e., to hold all parties accountable, and to inform the scientific and wider public of the problem and reason for the paper’s demise. This paper takes a look at the definitions and the policies of clauses for retractions, EoCs, errata and corrigenda in place by 15 leading science, technology and medicine (STM) publishers and four publishing-related bodies that we believe have the greatest influence on the current fields of science, technology and medicine. The primary purpose was to assess whether there is a consistency among these entities and publishers. Using an arbitrary 5-scale classification system, and evaluating the different categories of policies separately, we discovered that in almost all cases (88.9 %), the wording used to define these four categories of polices differs from that of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), which is generally considered to be the guiding set of definitions in science publishing. In addition, as much as 61 % deviation in policies (wording and meaning), relative to COPE guidelines, was discovered. When considering the average pooled deviation across all categories of policies, we discovered that there was either no deviation or a small deviation, only in the wording, in the definition of policies when compared to the COPE guidelines in 1 out of 3 ethical bodies, and in 40 % (6 out of 15) STM publishers. Moderate deviation from the COPE guidelines was detected in 26.7 % of STM publishers and one ethical body but a large deviation in one ethical body and 20 % of STM publishers was observed. Two STM publishers (13.3 %) did not report any information about these policies. Even though in practice, editors and publishers may deviate from these written definitions when dealing with case-by-case issues, we believe that it is essential, to serve as a consistent guide for authors and editors, that the wording be standardized across these entities. COPE and these entities also have the responsibility of making it clear that these definitions are merely suggestions and that their application may be subjected to subjective interpretation and application.
      PubDate: 2016-05-18
  • Holistic Assessment and Ethical Disputation on a New Trend in Solid
    • Abstract: Abstract A new trend in the production technology of solid biof uels has appeared. There is a wide consensus that most solid biofuels will be produced according to the new production methods within a few years. Numerous samples were manufactured from agro-residues according to conventional methods as well as new methods. Robust analyses that reviewed the hygienic, environmental, financial and ethical aspects were performed. The hygienic and environmental aspect was assessed by robust chemical and technical analyses. The financial aspect was assessed by energy cost breakdown. The ethical point of view was built on the above stated findings, the survey questionnaire and critical discussion with the literature. It is concluded that the new production methods are significantly favourable from both the hygienic and environmental points of view. Financial indicators do not allow the expressing of any preference. Regarding the ethical aspect, it is concluded that the new methods are beneficial in terms of environmental responsibility. However, it showed that most of the customers that took part in the survey are price oriented and therefore they tend to prefer the cheaper—conventional alternative. In the long term it can be assumed that expansion of the new technology and competition among manufacturers will reduce the costs.
      PubDate: 2016-05-11
  • Autonomy and Fear of Synthetic Biology: How Can Patients’ Autonomy
           Be Enhanced in the Field of Synthetic Biology' A Qualitative Study
           with Stable Patients
    • Abstract: Abstract We analyzed stable patients’ views regarding synthetic biology in general, the medical application of synthetic biology, and their potential participation in trials of synthetic biology in particular. The aim of the study was to find out whether patients’ views and preferences change after receiving more detailed information about synthetic biology and its clinical applications. The qualitative study was carried out with a purposive sample of 36 stable patients, who suffered from diabetes or gout. Interviews were transcribed verbatim, translated and fully anonymized. Thematic analysis was applied in order to examine stable patients’ attitudes towards synthetic biology, its medical application, and their participation in trials. When patients were asked about synthetic biology in general, most of them were anxious that something uncontrollable could be created. After a concrete example of possible future treatment options, patients started to see synthetic biology in a more positive way. Our study constitutes an important first empirical insight into stable patients’ views on synthetic biology and into the kind of fears triggered by the term “synthetic biology.” Our results show that clear and concrete information can change patients’ initial negative feelings towards synthetic biology. Information should thus be transmitted with great accuracy and transparency in order to reduce irrational fears of patients and to minimize the risk that researchers present facts too positively for the purposes of persuading patients to participate in clinical trials. Potential participants need to be adequately informed in order to be able to autonomously decide whether to participate in human subject research involving synthetic biology.
      PubDate: 2016-05-02
  • Principles of Public Reason in the UNFCCC: Rethinking the Equity Framework
    • Abstract: Abstract Since 2011, the focus of international negotiations under the UNFCCC has been on producing a new climate agreement to be adopted in 2015. This phase of negotiations is known as the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action. The goal has been to update the global effort on climate for long-term cooperation. In this period, various changes have been contemplated on the design of the architecture of the global climate effort. Whereas previously, the negotiation process consisted of setting mandated targets exclusively for developed countries, the current setting requests of each country to pledge its contribution to the climate effort in the form of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). The shift away from establishing negotiated targets for rich countries alone towards a universal system of participation through intended contributions raised persistent questions on how exactly the new agreement can ensure equitable terms. How to conceptualize equity within the 2015 climate agreement, and beyond, is the focus of this paper. The paper advances a framework on equity, which moves away from substantive moral conceptions of burden allocation toward refining principles of public reason specially designed for the negotiation process under the UNFCCC. The paper outlines the framework’s main features and discusses how it can serve a facilitating role for multilateral discussion on equity on a long-term basis capable of adapting to changing circumstances.
      PubDate: 2016-04-26
  • How the Invisible Hand is Supposed to Adjust the Natural Thermostat: A
           Guide for the Perplexed
    • Abstract: Abstract Mainstream climate economics takes global warming seriously, but perplexingly concludes that the optimal economic policy is to almost do nothing about it. This conclusion can be traced to just a few “normative” assumptions, over which there exists fundamental disagreement amongst economists. This paper explores two axes of this disagreement. The first axis (“market vs. regulation”) measures faith in the invisible hand to adjust the natural thermostat. The second axis expresses differences in views on the efficiency and equity implications of climate action. The two axes combined lead to a classification of conflicting approaches in climate economics. The variety of approaches does not imply a post-modern “anything goes”, as the contradictions between climate and capitalism cannot be wished away.
      PubDate: 2016-04-26
  • This “Ethical Trap” Is for Roboticists, Not Robots: On the
           Issue of Artificial Agent Ethical Decision-Making
    • Abstract: Abstract In this paper we address the question of when a researcher is justified in describing his or her artificial agent as demonstrating ethical decision-making. The paper is motivated by the amount of research being done that attempts to imbue artificial agents with expertise in ethical decision-making. It seems clear that computing systems make decisions, in that they make choices between different options; and there is scholarship in philosophy that addresses the distinction between ethical decision-making and general decision-making. Essentially, the qualitative difference between ethical decisions and general decisions is that ethical decisions must be part of the process of developing ethical expertise within an agent. We use this distinction in examining publicity surrounding a particular experiment in which a simulated robot attempted to safeguard simulated humans from falling into a hole. We conclude that any suggestions that this simulated robot was making ethical decisions were misleading.
      PubDate: 2016-04-26
  • Definitions and Conceptual Dimensions of Responsible Research and
           Innovation: A Literature Review
    • Abstract: Abstract The aim of this study is to provide a discussion on the definitions and conceptual dimensions of Responsible Research and Innovation based on findings from the literature. In the study, the outcomes of a literature review of 235 RRI-related articles were presented. The articles were selected from the EBSCO and Google Scholar databases regarding the definitions and dimensions of RRI. The results of the study indicated that while administrative definitions were widely quoted in the reviewed literature, they were not substantially further elaborated. Academic definitions were mostly derived from the institutional definitions; however, more empirical studies should be conducted in order to give a broader empirical basis to the development of the concept. In the current study, four distinct conceptual dimensions of RRI that appeared in the reviewed literature were brought out: inclusion, anticipation, responsiveness and reflexivity. Two emerging conceptual dimensions were also added: sustainability and care.
      PubDate: 2016-04-18
  • Time for Revelation: Unmasking the Anonymity of Blind Reviewers
    • PubDate: 2016-04-06
  • Patients’ Awareness About Their Rights: A Study from Coastal South
    • Abstract: Abstract Respecting patients’ rights is a fundamental aspect of providing quality healthcare. The present investigation attempts to explore the awareness among patients about their rights in a coastal township in India. A questionnaire-based cross-sectional study was carried out among 215 patients admitted to the wards of a tertiary care teaching hospital in Mangalore. Awareness among patients regarding their rights varied for various issues and ranged between 48.4 and 87.4 %. Awareness about patients’ rights was independent of gender, socio-economic and educational status. Doctors were found to be the most common source of information for patient’s about their rights in the study. Doctors must conform to the relevant legislations and involve patients in all aspects of healthcare. There is a need to increase awareness among patients about their rights to ensure informed decisions and better health care services.
      PubDate: 2016-04-06
  • Ethical Risk Management Education in Engineering: A Systematic Review
    • Abstract: Abstract Risk management is certainly one of the most important professional responsibilities of an engineer. As such, this activity needs to be combined with complex ethical reflections, and this requirement should therefore be explicitly integrated in engineering education. In this article, we analyse how this nexus between ethics and risk management is expressed in the engineering education research literature. It was done by reviewing 135 articles published between 1980 and March 1, 2016. These articles have been selected from 21 major journals that specialize in engineering education, engineering ethics and ethics education. Our review suggests that risk management is mostly used as an anecdote or an example when addressing ethics issues in engineering education. Further, it is perceived as an ethical duty or requirement, achieved through rational and technical methods. However, a small number of publications do offer some critical analyses of ethics education in engineering and their implications for ethical risk and safety management. Therefore, we argue in this article that the link between risk management and ethics should be further developed in engineering education in order to promote the progressive change toward more socially and environmentally responsible engineering practices. Several research trends and issues are also identified and discussed in order to support the engineering education community in this project.
      PubDate: 2016-04-06
  • Sympathy and Emotions in Academic Research Society
    • PubDate: 2016-04-01
  • An Ethical Issue Scale for Community Pharmacy Setting (EISP): Development
           and Validation
    • Abstract: Abstract Many problems that arise when providing pharmacy services may contain some ethical components and the aims of this study were to develop and validate a scale that could assess difficulties of ethical issues, as well as the frequency of those occurrences in everyday practice of community pharmacists. Development and validation of the scale was conducted in three phases: (1) generating items for the initial survey instrument after qualitative analysis; (2) defining the design and format of the instrument; (3) validation of the instrument. The constructed Ethical Issue scale for community pharmacy setting has two parts containing the same 16 items for assessing the difficulty and frequency thereof. The results of the 171 completely filled out scales were analyzed (response rate 74.89 %). The Cronbach’s α value of the part of the instrument that examines difficulties of the ethical situations was 0.83 and for the part of the instrument that examined frequency of the ethical situations was 0.84. Test–retest reliability for both parts of the instrument was satisfactory with all Interclass correlation coefficient (ICC) values above 0.6, (for the part that examines severity ICC = 0.809, for the part that examines frequency ICC = 0.929). The 16-item scale, as a self assessment tool, demonstrated a high degree of content, criterion, and construct validity and test–retest reliability. The results support its use as a research tool to asses difficulty and frequency of ethical issues in community pharmacy setting. The validated scale needs to be further employed on a larger sample of pharmacists.
      PubDate: 2016-04-01
  • Reducing Ethical Hazards in Knowledge Production
    • Abstract: Abstract This article discusses the ethics of knowledge production (KP) from a cultural point of view, in contrast with the more usual emphasis on the ethical issues facing individuals involved in KP. Here, the emphasis is on the cultural environment within which individuals, groups and institutions perform KP. A principal purpose is to suggest ways in which reliable scientific knowledge could be produced more efficiently. The distinction between ethical hazard and (un)ethical behaviour is noted. Ethical hazards cannot be eliminated but they can be reduced if the cultural ambience is suitable. The main suggestions for reducing ethical hazards in KP relate to the review process. It is argued that some defects of the current, largely anonymous, review process could be ameliorated by a process of comprehensive, open and ongoing review (COOR). This includes partial professionalisation of the work of reviewing. Review at several stages is a vital part of the long filtering that incorporates some claims into the canon of reliable knowledge. The review process would be an acknowledged and explicit part of KP—a respected, public and rewarded activity. COOR would be expensive but cost-effective. The costs should be built explicitly into research culture. Finally, the considerations about a more ‘KP friendly’ culture lead to advocacy of a ‘long-term, short-term’ synthesis; that is, of the synthesis of long-term vision, such as a more cooperative and less competitive culture, with incremental changes which may be implemented in the short term.
      PubDate: 2016-04-01
  • Human Genome Editing and Ethical Considerations
    • Abstract: Abstract Editing human germline genes may act as boon in some genetic and other disorders. Recent editing of the genome of the human embryo with the CRISPR/Cas9 editing tool generated a debate amongst top scientists of the world for the ethical considerations regarding its effect on the future generations. It needs to be seen as to what transformation human gene editing brings to humankind in the times to come.
      PubDate: 2016-04-01
  • Incidence of Data Duplications in a Randomly Selected Pool of Life Science
    • Abstract: Abstract Since the solution to many public health problems depends on research, it is critical for the progress and well-being for the patients that we can trust the scientific literature. Misconduct and poor laboratory practice in science threatens the scientific progress, leads to loss of productivity and increased healthcare costs, and endangers lives of patients. Data duplication may represent one of challenges related to these problems. In order to estimate the frequency of data duplication in life science literature, a systematic screen through 120 original scientific articles published in three different cancer related journals [journal impact factor (IF) <5, 5–10 and >20] was completed. The study revealed a surprisingly high proportion of articles containing data duplication. For the IF < 5 and IF > 20 journals, 25 % of the articles were found to contain data duplications. The IF 5–10 journal showed a comparable proportion (22.5 %). The proportion of articles containing duplicated data was comparable between the three journals and no significant correlation to journal IF was found. The editorial offices representing the journals included in this study and the individual authors of the detected articles were contacted to clarify the individual cases. The editorial offices did not reply and only 1 out of 29 cases were apparently clarified by the authors, although no supporting data was supplied. This study questions the reliability of life science literature, it illustrates that data duplications are widespread and independent of journal impact factor and call for a reform of the current peer review and retraction process of scientific publishing.
      PubDate: 2016-04-01
  • Clinical Trial Application in Europe: What Will Change with the New
    • Abstract: Abstract The European framework surrounding clinical trials on medicinal products for human use is going to change as demonstrated by the large debate at European institutional level. One of the major challenges is to overcome the lack of harmonisation of clinical trial procedures among countries. This aspect is gaining more and more importance, considering the increasing number of multicentre and multinational studies. In this work, the actual European rules governing the Clinical Trial Application have been analysed throughout the different steps including the registration of the trial in the European database; the preparation of documents to be submitted and their contents; the preparation of documents related to the information and consent process; the submission to competent bodies. Specific issues related to paediatric research and trials involving non EU/EEA countries have been addressed as well. Results reveal that the European legislation offers a well defined set of European rules covering different aspects of a Clinical Trial Application. However, these are not suitable to meet the challenges from multicentre and multinational clinical studies. A stronger set of rules, such as is available in a composite European Regulation has been adopted and is expected to harmonise practices and enable sponsors to carry out well conducted trials. But will the new regulation overcome the existing criticisms of Directive 2001/20/EC'
      PubDate: 2016-04-01
  • Coping with the Conflict-of-Interest Pandemic by Listening to and Doubting
           Everyone, Including Yourself
    • Abstract: Abstract In light of the widespread existence of financial and non-financial issues that contribute to the appearance or fact of conflict of interest, it is proposed that conflict of interest should generally be assumed, no matter the source of financial support or the expressed declarations of conflicts and even with respect to one’s own work. No new model is advanced for modification of peer-review processes or for elaboration of author declarations of interest. Researchers should be assessing the quality of published work as best they can and make their own decisions on the appropriate use of the work. While some apparent sources of conflict are likely more obvious and serious than others, even subtler biases can influence scientific reports. Ignoring peer-reviewed contributions because of conflict-of-interest concerns is discouraged. Listening skeptically to all sources, including yourself, is encouraged.
      PubDate: 2016-04-01
  • Polemics on Ethical Aspects in the Compost Business
    • Abstract: Abstract This paper focuses on compost use in overpasses and underpasses for wild animals over roads and other similar linear structures. In this context, good quality of compost may result in faster and more resistant vegetation cover during the year. Inter alia, this can be interpreted also as reduction of damage and saving lives. There are millions of tones of plant residue produced every day worldwide. These represent prospective business for manufacturers of compost additives called “accelerators”. The opinions of the sale representatives’ with regards to other alternatives of biowaste utilization and their own products were reviewed. The robust analyzes of several “accelerated” composts revealed that the quality was generally low. Only two accelerated composts were somewhat similar in quality to the blank sample that was produced according to the traditional procedure. Overlaps between the interests of decision makers on future soil fertility were weighed against the preferences on short-term profit. Possible causes that allowed the boom of these underperforming products and the possible consequences are also discussed. Conclusions regarding the ethical concerns on how to run businesses with products whose profitability depends on weaknesses in the legal system and customer unawareness are to follow.
      PubDate: 2016-04-01
  • Human Flesh Search Engine and Online Privacy
    • Abstract: Abstract Human flesh search engine can be a double-edged sword, bringing convenience on the one hand and leading to infringement of personal privacy on the other hand. This paper discusses the ethical problems brought about by the human flesh search engine, as well as possible solutions.
      PubDate: 2016-04-01
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