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Ethics of the Trump Budget: The Social Contract is Dead

03/17/2017

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

President Trump released his blueprint for a 2018 federal budget. From an ethical standpoint, the President seems to operates from a Hobbesian standpoint—life is nasty, brutish and short. However, unlike Hobbes who believed that we came together to protect ourselves from this reality, the new budget seems to encourage this idea. The new budget makes deep cuts to all social and scientific programs while boosting the military. In Hobbesian terms, Trumps’ social contract is all about bullying outsiders while leaving insiders in a state of hopeless diffidence.…

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03/22/2017
Monsanto Weed Killer Roundup Faces New Doubts on Safety in Unsealed Documents New York Times

The reputation of Roundup, whose active ingredient is the world’s most widely used weed killer, took a hit on Tuesday when a federal court unsealed documents raising questions about its safety and the research practices of its manufacturer, the chemical giant Monsanto.

03/21/2017
Federal advisory panels agree Opana’s risks outweigh benefits USA Today

The new extended-release version of Endo Pharmaceuticals’ Opana may even be more dangerous than the version it replaced, according to critics including the advocacy group Public Citizen. Two Food and Drug Administration advisory panels seemed to agree, voting 18 to 8 that it presents more risks than benefits to society. Next it’s up to the FDA to decide whether to act on the panels’ advice, which it generally does. Possible actions include changes to labels, restriction of prescriptions and an outright ban.

03/20/2017
Informed Patient? Don’t Bet On It New York Times

As doctors, our goal is to help you, of course, and to do no harm. But we may actually hurt you, irreversibly. Not that this happens frequently, but it might. How does that sound? Ready to take the plunge? The secret is that informed consent in health care is commonly not-so-well informed. It might be a document we ask you to sign, at the behest of our lawyers, in case we end up in court if a bad outcome happens. Unfortunately, it’s often not really about informing you.

03/17/2017
Beware emotional robots: Giving feelings to artificial beings could backfire, study suggests Science

Previous work has shown a discomfort with humanlike robots, with people ascribing more emotions to them. In a study published by the psychologists Kurt Gray of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and Daniel Wegner in 2012, participants watched a brief video of a robot’s head either from the front, where they could see its “human” face, or from behind, where they saw electrical components. The ones who watched its face rated it as more capable of feeling pain and fear, and as a result they felt more “creeped out.”