This paper describes issues associated with integrating the study of Ethical, Legal and Social Issues (ELSI) into ongoing scientific and technical research and describes an approach adopted by the authors for their own work with the center for nanophase materials sciences (CNMS) at the Oak Ridge national laboratory (ORNL). Four key questions are considered: (a) What is ELSI and how should it identify and address topics of interest for the CNMS? (b) What advantages accrue to incorporating ELSI into the CNMS? (...) (c) How should the integration of ELSI into the CNMS take place? (d) How should one judge the effectiveness of the activity? We conclude that ELSI research is not a monolithic body of knowledge, but should be adapted to the question at hand. Our approach focuses on junctures in the R&D continuum at which key decisions occur, avoids topics of a purely ethical nature or advocacy, and seeks to gather data in ways that permit testing the validity of generalization. Integrating ELSI into the CNMS allows dealing with topics firmly grounded in science, offers concrete examples of potential downstream applications and provides access to the scientists using the CNMS and their insights and observations. As well, integration provides the opportunity for R&D managers to benefit from ELSI insights and the potential to modify R&D agendas. Successful integration is dependent on the particular ELSI question set that drives the project. In this case questions sought to identify key choices, information of value to scientists, institutional attributes, key attributes of the CNMS culture, and alternatives for communicating results. The opportunity to consult with scientists on ELSI implications is offered, but not promoted. Finally, ELSI effectiveness is judged by observing the use to which research products are put within the CNMS, ORNL, and the community of external scholars. (shrink)
Research on the ethical, legal, and social implications (ELSI) of human genomics has devoted significant attention to the research ethics issues that arise from genomic science as it moves through the translational process. Given the prominence of these issues in today's debates over the state of research ethics overall, these studies are well positioned to contribute important data, contextual considerations, and policy arguments to the wider research ethics community's deliberations, and ultimately to develop a research ethics that can help guide (...) biomedicine's future. In this essay, we illustrate this thesis through an analytic summary of the research presented at the 2011 ELSI Congress, an international meeting of genomics and society researchers. We identify three pivotal factors currently shaping genomic research, its clinical translation, and its societal implications: (1) the increasingly blurred boundary between research and treatment; (2) uncertainty — that is, the indefinite, indeterminate, and incomplete nature of much genomic information and the challenges that arise from making meaning and use of it; and (3) the role of negotiations between multiple scientific and non-scientific stakeholders in setting the priorities for and direction of biomedical research, as it is increasingly conducted “in the public square.”. (shrink)
This paper explores possible connections between gender and the willingness to tolerate unethical academic behavior. Data from a sample of 285 accounting majors at four public institutions reveal that females are less tolerant than males when questioned about academic misconduct. Statistically significant differences were found for 17 of 23 questionable activities. Furthermore, females were found to be less cynical and less often involved in academic dishonesty. Overall, the results support the finding of Betz et al. (1989) that the gender socialization (...) approach dominates the structural approach. (shrink)
This symposium provides five case studies of the ways that John Dewey's philosophy and practice were influenced by women or "weirdoes" (our choices include F. M. Alexander, Albert Barnes, Helen Bradford Thompson, Elsie Ripley Clapp, and Jane Addams) and presents some conclusions about the value of dialoging across difference for philosophers and other scholars.
The corporate sustainability, and responsibility, movement has considerable implications for and impact on the discipline of brand management. It creates pressures to which the discipline must adjust, and new growth opportunities for it to enjoy.In Maio''s view, "brand" permeates all aspects of the corporation and therefore the values of the brand can serve as an effective touchstone for all corporate behaviours: in the Boardroom, in financial markets, in negotiations with employees, in customer interactions, in dialogue with other stakeholders. Moreover, most (...) corporations already have "plumbing" in place (the organizational substructures and processes to manage their brand), that can serve as effective conduits for nurturing values-driven behaviours and measuring them. (shrink)
Introduction : Dewey's lifelong crusade for participatory democracy -- Michigan beginnings, 1884-1894 -- Dewey at the University of Chicago, 1894-1904 -- Dewey leaves the University of Chicago for Columbia University -- Elsie Clapp's contributions to community schools -- Penn and the third revolution in American higher education -- The Center for Community Partnerships -- The university civic responsibility idea becomes an international movement -- John Dewey, the Coalition for Community Schools, and developing a participatory democratic American society.
Background Continued advances in human microbiome research and technologies raise a number of ethical, legal, and social challenges. These challenges are associated not only with the conduct of the research, but also with broader implications, such as the production and distribution of commercial products promising maintenance or restoration of good physical health and disease prevention. In this article, we document several ethical, legal, and social challenges associated with the commercialization of human microbiome research, focusing particularly on how this research is (...) mobilized within economic markets for new public health uses. Methods We conducted in-depth, semi-structured interviews (2009–2010) with 63 scientists, researchers, and National Institutes of Health project leaders (“investigators”) involved with human microbiome research. Interviews explored a range of ethical, legal, and social dimensions of human microbiome research, including investigators’ perspectives on commercialization. Using thematic content analysis, we identified and analyzed emergent themes and patterns. Results Investigators discussed the commercialization of human microbiome research in terms of (1) commercialization, probiotics, and issues of safety, (2) public awareness of the benefits and risks of dietary supplements, and (3) regulation. Conclusion The prevailing theme of ethical, legal, social concern focused on the need to find a balance between the marketplace, scientific research, and the public’s health. The themes we identified are intended to serve as points for discussions about the relationship between scientific research and the manufacture and distribution of over-the-counter dietary supplements in the United States. (shrink)
BackgroundObtaining a research participant’s voluntary and informed consent is the bedrock of sound ethics practice. Greater inclusion of children in research has led to questions about how paediatric consent operates in practice to accord with current and emerging legal and socio-ethical issues, norms, and requirements.MethodsEmploying a qualitative thematic content analysis, we examined paediatric consent forms from major academic centres and public organisations across Canada dated from 2008–2011, which were purposively selected to reflect different types of research ethics boards, participants, and (...) studies. The studies included biobanking, longitudinal studies, and gene-environment studies. Our purpose was to explore the following six emerging issues: (1) whether the scope of parental consent allows for a child’s assent, dissent, or future consent; (2) whether the concepts of risk and benefit incorporate the child’s psychological and social perspective; (3) whether a child’s ability to withdraw is respected and to what extent withdrawal is permitted; (4) whether the return of research results includes individual results and/or incidental findings and the processes involved therein; (5) whether privacy and confidentiality concerns adequately address the child’s perspective and whether standard data and/or sample identifiability nomenclature is used; and (6) whether retention of and access to paediatric biological samples and associated medical data are addressed.ResultsThe review suggests gaps and variability in the consent forms with respect to addressing each of the six issues. Many forms did not discuss the possibility of returning research results, be they individual or general/aggregate results. Forms were also divided in terms of the scope of parental consent (specific versus broad), and none discussed a process for resolving disputes that can arise when either the parents or the child wishes to withdraw from the study.ConclusionsThe analysis provides valuable insight and evidence into how consent forms address current ethical issues. While we do not thoroughly explore the contexts and reasons behind consent form gaps and variability, we do advocate and formulate the development of best practices for drafting paediatric health research consent forms. This can greatly ameliorate current gaps and facilitate harmonised and yet contextualised approaches to paediatric health research ethics. (shrink)
Social scientific and humanistic research on synthetic biology has focused quite narrowly on questions of epistemology and ELSI. I suggest that to understand this discipline in its full scope, researchers must turn to the objects of the field—synthetic biological artifacts—and study them as the objects in the making of a science yet to be made. I consider one fundamentally important question: how should we understand the material products of synthetic biology? Practitioners in the field, employing a consistent technological optic in (...) the study and construction of biological systems, routinely employ the mantra ‘biology is technology’. I explore this categorization. By employing an established definition of technological artifects drawn from the philosophy of technology, I explore the appropriateness of attributing to synthetic biological artifacts the four criteria of materiality, intentional design, functionality, and normativity. I then explore a variety of accounts of natural kinds. I demonstrate that synthetic biological artifacts fit each kind imperfectly, and display a concomitant ontological ‘messiness’. I argue that this classificatory ambivalence is a product of the field’s own nascence, and posit that further work on kinds might help synthetic biology evaluate its existing commitments and practices. (shrink)
This essay examines issues involving personal privacy and informed consent that arise at the intersection of information and communication technology (ICT) and population genomics research. I begin by briefly examining the ethical, legal, and social implications (ELSI) program requirements that were established to guide researchers working on the Human Genome Project (HGP). Next I consider a case illustration involving deCODE Genetics, a privately owned genetics company in Iceland, which raises some ethical concerns that are not clearly addressed in the current (...) ELSI guidelines. The deCODE case also illustrates some ways in which an ICT technique known as data mining has both aided and posed special challenges for researchers working in the field of population genomics. On the one hand, data-mining tools have greatly assisted researchers in mapping the human genome and in identifying certain disease genes common in specific populations (which, in turn, has accelerated the process of finding cures for diseases that affect those populations). On the other hand, this technology has significantly threatened the privacy of research subjects participating in population genomics studies, who may, unwittingly, contribute to the construction of new groups (based on arbitrary and non-obvious patterns and statistical correlations) that put those subjects at risk for discrimination and stigmatization. In the final section of this paper I examine some ways in which the use of data mining in the context of population genomics research poses a critical challenge for the principle of informed consent, which traditionally has played a central role in protecting the privacy interests of research subjects participating in epidemiological studies. (shrink)
Background: As genetics technology proceeds, practices of genetic testing have become more heterogeneous: many different types of tests are finding their way to the public in different settings and for a variety of purposes. This diversification is relevant to the discourse on ethical, legal and societal issues (ELSI) surrounding genetic testing, which must evolve to encompass these differences. One important development is the rise of personal genome testing on the basis of genetic profiling: the testing of multiple genetic variants simultaneously (...) for the prediction of common multifactorial diseases. Currently, an increasing number of companies are offering personal genome tests directly to consumers and are spurring ELSI-discussions, which stand in need of clarification. This paper presents a systematic approach to the ELSI-evaluation of personal genome testing for multifactorial diseases along the lines of its test characteristics.DiscussionThis paper addresses four test characteristics of personal genome testing: its being a non-targeted type of testing, its high analytical validity, low clinical validity and problematic clinical utility. These characteristics raise their own specific ELSI, for example: non-targeted genetic profiling poses serious problems for information provision and informed consent. Questions about the quantity and quality of the necessary information, as well as about moral responsibilities with regard to the provision of information are therefore becoming central themes within ELSI-discussions of personal genome testing. Further, the current low level of clinical validity of genetic profiles raises questions concerning societal risks and regulatory requirements, whereas simultaneously it causes traditional ELSI-issues of clinical genetics, such as psychological and health risks, discrimination, and stigmatization, to lose part of their relevance. Also, classic notions of clinical utility are challenged by the newer notion of 'personal utility.'SummaryConsideration of test characteristics is essential to any valuable discourse on the ELSI of personal genome testing for multifactorial diseases. Four key characteristics of the test - targeted/non-targeted testing, analytical validity, clinical validity and clinical utility - together determine the applicability and the relevance of ELSI to specific tests. The paper identifies and discusses four areas of interest for the ELSI-debate on personal genome testing: informational problems, risks, regulatory issues, and the notion of personal utility. (shrink)
The intersection of ELSI and science forms a complicated nexus yet their integration is an important goal both for society and for the successful advancement of science. In what follows, I present a heuristic that makes boundary identification and crossing an important tool in the discovery of potential areas of ethical, legal, and social concern in science. A dynamic and iterative application of the heuristic can lead towards a fuller integration and appreciation of the concerns of ELSI and of science (...) from both sides of the divide. (shrink)
Background: The research community has a mandate to discover effective treatments for neurodegenerative disorders. The ethics landscape surrounding this mandate is in a constant state of flux, and ongoing challenges place ever greater demands on investigators to be accountable to the public and to answer questions about the implications of their work for health care, society, and policy. Methods: We surveyed US-based investigators involved in neurodegenerative diseases research about how they value ethics-related issues, what motivates them to give consideration to (...) those issues, and the barriers to doing so. Using the NIH CRISP database we identified 1,034 researchers with relevant, active grants and invited them to complete an online questionnaire. We received 193 responses. We used exploratory factor analysis to transform individual survey questions into a smaller set of factors, and linear regression to understand the effect of key variables of interest on the factor scores. Results: Ethics-related issues clustered into two groups: research ethics and external influences. Heads of research groups viewed issues of research ethics to be more important than the other respondents. Concern about external influences was related to overall interest in ethics. Motivators clustered into five groups: ensuring public understanding, external forces, requirements, values, and press and public. Heads of research groups were more motivated to ensure public understanding of research than the other respondents. Barriers clustered into four groups: lack of resources, administrative burden, relevance to the research, and lack of interest. Perceived lack of ethics resources was a particular barrier for investigators working in drug discovery. Conclusions: The data suggest that senior level neuroscientists working in the field of neurodegeneration (ND), and drug discovery specifically, are motivated to consider ethics issues related to their work, but the perceived lack of ethics resources thwarts their efforts. With bioethics centres at more than 50% of the institutions at which these respondents reside, the neuroscience and bioethics communities appear to be disconnected. Dedicated ethical, legal and social implications (ELSI) programs, such as those fully integrated into genetics and regenerative medicine, provide models for achieving meaningful partnerships not yet adequately realized for scholars and trainees interested in drug discovery for ND. (shrink)