The Ethics Blog

A blog from the Centre for Research Ethics & Bioethics (CRB)

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What is a moral machine?

I recently read an article about so-called moral robots, which I found clarifying in many ways. The philosopher John-Stewart Gordon points out pitfalls that non-ethicists – robotics researchers and AI programmers – may fall into when they try to construct moral machines. Simply because they lack ethical expertise. The first pitfall is the rookie mistakes. […]

Herb Terrace about the chimpanzee Nim – do you see the contradiction?

Have you seen small children make repeated attempts to squeeze a square object through a round hole (plastic toy for the little ones)? You get puzzled: Do they not see that it is impossible? The object and the hole have different shapes! Sometimes adults are just as puzzling. Our intellect does not always fit reality. […]

What shall we eat? An ethical framework for food choices (By Anna T. Höglund)

To reflect ethically on what we eat has been part of Western culture for centuries. In pre-modern times, the focus was mainly on the consumption of food, although it varied whether the emphasis was on the amount of food one should eat (as in ancient Greece) or on what kind of food one was allowed […]

Artificial intelligence and living consciousness

The Ethics Blog will publish several posts on artificial intelligence in the future. Today, I just want to make a little observation of something remarkable. The last century was marked by fear of human consciousness. Our mind seemed as mystic as the soul, as superfluous in a scientific age as God. In psychology, behaviorism flourished, […]

Exactly when does a human being actually come into existence?

The one who prepares the food may announce, “The food is ready now!” when the food is ready. However, when exactly is the food actually ready? When the kitchen timer rings? The potatoes are cooked then. Or when the saucepan is removed from the stove? The cooking ends then. Or when the saucepan is emptied […]

When order creates disorder

Scientific publications often have more than one author. The authorship order then becomes a sensitive issue for academics, since it counts. A good author position counts as good scientific merit. The authorship order also determines the funding allocation to the author’s university department. A good author position gives more money to the department. The only […]

Neuroethics as foundational

As neuroscience expands, the need for ethical reflection also expands. A new field has emerged, neuroethics, which celebrated its 15th anniversary last year. This was noted in the journal AJOB Neuroscience through an article about the area’s current and future challenges. In one of the published comments, three researchers from the Human Brain Project and […]

Clinical cancer trials convey a culture of hope

Activities that we may want to keep apart often overlap. An example is cancer research and care. Clinical cancer centers often conduct research and recruit patients as research participants. Such research is important if we want to offer future patients better cancer treatments. However, does this also apply to patients participating in studies? Are they […]

Christmas blog post about contemplation and wide horizons

What does it mean to be contemplative? In a conversation, the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein addresses the issue through a contrast: professional racing motorists. A successful racing driver has one goal in mind: to break the speed record. It is not wrong to have such a well-specified goal. It is required if you want to be […]

Communicating thought provoking research in our common language

After having been the editor of the Ethics Blog for eight years, I would like to describe the research communication that usually occurs on this blog. The Ethics Blog wants to avoid the popular scientific style that sometimes occurs in the media, which reports research results on the form, “We have traditionally believed that…, but […]

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