Global society is facing formidable current and future problems that threaten the prospects for justice and peace, sustainability, and the well-being of humanity both now and in the future. Many of these problems are related to science and technology and to how they function in the world. If the social responsibility of scientists and engineers implies a duty to safeguard or promote a peaceful, just and sustainable world society, then science and engineering education should empower students to fulfil this responsibility. (...) The contributions to this special issue present European examples of teaching social responsibility to students in science and engineering, and provide examples and discussion of how this teaching can be promoted, and of obstacles that are encountered. Speaking generally, education aimed at preparing future scientists and engineers for social responsibility is presently very limited and seemingly insufficient in view of the enormous ethical and social problems that are associated with current science and technology. Although many social, political and professional organisations have expressed the need for the provision of teaching for social responsibility, important and persistent barriers stand in the way of its sustained development. What is needed are both bottom-up teaching initiatives from individuals or groups of academic teachers, and top-down support to secure appropriate embedding in the university. Often the latter is lacking or inadequate. Educational policies at the national or international level, such as the Bologna agreements in Europe, can be an opportunity for introducing teaching for social responsibility. However, frequently no or only limited positive effect of such policies can be discerned. Existing accreditation and evaluation mechanisms do not guarantee appropriate attention to teaching for social responsibility, because, in their current form, they provide no guarantee that the curricula pay sufficient attention to teaching goals that are desirable for society as a whole. (shrink)
Neuroscience research, like all science, is vulnerable to the influence of extraneous values in the practice of research, whether in research design or the selection, analysis and interpretation of data. This is particularly problematic for research into the biological mechanisms that underlie behavior, and especially the neurobiological underpinnings of moral development and ethical reasoning, decision-making and behavior, and the other elements of what is often called the neuroscience of ethics. The problem arises because neuroscientists, like most everyone, bring to their (...) work assumptions, preconceptions and values and other sources of potentially inappropriate bias of which they may be unaware. It is important that the training of neuroscientists, and research practice itself, include open and in-depth discussion and examination of the assumptions that underlie research. Further, policy makers, journalists, and the general public, that is, the consumers of neuroscience research findings (and by extension, neurotechnologies) should be made aware of the limitations as well as the strengths of the science, the evolving nature of scientific understanding, and the often invisible values inherent in science. (shrink)
Advances in neuroscience continue to enhance understanding of the brain and provide new tools to take advantage of that understanding. These changes are poised to profoundly alter society. Given that the impact will be felt not only by neuroscientists, but by diverse members of society, it is imperative that conversations engage all stakeholders. Doing so will allow for the sharing of diverse views and perspectives to understand and frame the science, better educate and prepare the public for new developments, and (...) provide a shared approach to identifying and resolving ethical challenges. These were the goals of Neuroethics Week, staged in 2007 by the Center for Ethics in Science and Technology in San Diego, and are the basis for the contributions to this special issue of Science and Engineering Ethics. (shrink)
“Responsible research” and “good science” are concepts with various meanings depending on one’s perspective and assumptions. Fellow researchers, research participants, policy makers and the general public also have differing expectations of the benefits of research ranging from accurate and reliable data that extend the body of knowledge, to solutions to societal concerns. Unless these differing constituencies articulate their differing views they may fail to communicate and undermine the value of research to society.
Although the terms mentor and thesis advisor (or research supervisor) are often used interchangeably, the responsibilities associated with these roles are distinct, even when they overlap. Neither are role models necessarily mentors, though mentors are role models: good examples are necessary but not sufficient. Mentorship is both a personal and a professional relationship. It has the potential for raising a number of ethical concerns, including issues of accuracy and reliability of the information conveyed, access, stereotyping and tracking of advisees, and (...) the abuse of power. Nevertheless, mentors can be critically important for professional success and are one of a number of elements that affect the responsible conduct of research. In addition, the community as a whole has a responsibility to mentor junior members. (shrink)
It is clear that the concept of scientific misconduct continues to evolve. As always it is the goal of Science and Engineering Ethics to move the discussion forward, to encourage and facilitate discussion of the ethical issues and problems that practicing scientists and engineers encounter in the course of pursuing their professions. This collection of articles and commentaries provides a variety of perspectives that we expect will facilitate communication among and within the groups who must participate in this evolution.
In discussions of professional standards and ethical values it is reasonable to consider who will develop the codes of conduct and guidelines for behavior that will reflect the standards and values of the community. Also worthy of consideration is whether the standards or guidelines are enforceable, and how and to what extent they will be enforced. The development of guidelines or professional codes of conduct is a responsibility that has been adopted by many professional societies. Useful to this discussion is (...) an examination of the rationale behind the development of ethical codes by professional societies. The Ethics in Science Committee of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents (CSSP) has examined the codes of some of its member societies and some observations regarding them are pertinent. The nature and uses of ethical statements, codes and guidelines developed by professional societies are multiple and diverse. Their enforcement raises both practical and ethical concerns. (shrink)
Trust is a critical component of research: trust in the work of co-workers and colleagues within the scientific community; trust in the work of research scientists by the non-research community. A wide range of factors, including internally and externally generated pressures and practical and personal limitations, affect the research process. The extent to which these factors are understood and appreciated influence the development of trust in scientific research findings.