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Ethics in the context of disability

Ethics in the context of disability

Professor in the Faculty of Medicine
Founding Director of the Faculty of Law's Centre for Medicine,
Ethics and Law at McGill University

What is ethics?

In everyday language ethics can be described as trying not to do the wrong thing in the sense of harming people, first do no harm, and, then, wherever possible, doing the right thing in the sense of benefiting people. 

Ethics is about values, especially shared values, in particular those we adopt as our basic societal values - they are sometimes called norms.  The nature of a value is not easy to define.   The Oxford English Dictionary defines it within the context of ethics as: "That which is worthy of esteem for its own sake; that which has intrinsic worth".  Another way to describe values might be as "ethical organising principles" - they are principles that we can use to guide us in deciding what is ethical and what is not.  For instance, a belief that it is wrong to discriminate against people on the basis of physical or menta...

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Life Sciences or Death Sciences

Professor in the Faculty of Medicine
Founding Director of the Faculty of Law's Centre for Medicine,
Ethics and Law at McGill University

Tipping the Balance towards Life with Ethics, Codes, and Laws

The search for ethics to govern the life sciences and the threats to public health their misuse could entail, both nationally and internationally, is part of a complex ongoing process which is forcing us to confront diverse and sometimes strongly conflicting viewpoints.

To successfully reduce the threat of bioterrorism and biowarfare, and to protect public health, especially on a global level, we all will need to engage across boundaries that have separated us in the past. Only by doing so can we seek to ensure that the promise of our unparalleled discoveries of new knowledge in the life sciences is fulfilled and it's potential for unprecedented harm averted.
Certainly, no one measure will be sufficient to ensure that science is not misused, or public health put at risk, or people's...

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Ethics: a weapon to counter bioterrorism

Professor in the Faculty of Medicine
Founding Director of the Faculty of Law's Centre for Medicine,
Ethics and Law at McGill University

Advances in the life sciences, especially in molecular biology and informatics, and the potential for misuse of scientific research (the "dual-use" dilemma) raise the possibility that an act of terrorism could involve biological agents. International consensus is crucial on the steps needed to reduce this grave threat to humanity. One such step is to ensure that all people and institutions involved in science are aware of their ethical obligations.

An important way to promote the necessary international consensus and to raise the necessary awareness is through adoption of a code of ethics to govern research in the life sciences. It is with this thought that we set out to capture the critical elements that a code of ethics for the life sciences should include--one that we believe can help prevent the life sciences from becoming the death...

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