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Student_BlogSocial work is a profession dedicated to helping people, families, organizations and communities.  It is a profession based in values which correlate with specific ethical principles.  The core values of social work are:

  • Service;
  • Social justice;
  • Dignity and worth of the person;
  • Importance of human relationships
  • Integrity; and;
  • Competence.

In the public eye, social work is not seen as steeped in scientific method, yet the ethics of social work direct social workers to engage in evidence-based practice.  This requires social workers to consume and critique research to understand the effects of interventions for their clients.

This semester, I taught a group of first semester Master of Social Work (MSW) students a course on research. It is a required course with the objective of providing students with the necessary skills to think critically about research findings. Critical thinking is an important component of the curriculum of the MSW program. In the context of understanding research, it requires an understanding of technical aspects of research such as research design, sampling, measurement, threats to internal validity, and generalizability. This knowledge is the foundation for making informed decisions about interventions and treatments.

Some of my students found it difficult to connect with the material in the research course. It’s an analytical topic that can seem abstract compared to the practice components of social work education.  The ethics of research is a more approachable topic.  The principles of ethical research dovetail with social work values and ethics. For an MSW student, critical thinking about research the student to place research in the context of social work values and consider questions such as, “Does this research promote social justice?” and “Does this research support the dignity and worth of the person?”  These questions mirror the principles of the Belmont Report, which provides principles and guidelines for the ethical conduct of research on human subjects.

MSW students learn the classic cases of unethical research such as the Tuskegee Syphilis Study and the Milgrim experiments. It’s important for social workers to understand these cases if they are involved in research or if they have clients who may be research subjects.  Most social workers don’t practice in this context, so for the research ethics section of our course, I taught the students about the tobacco industry’s response to research about the harms of cigarettes. With this example, the ethical relevance of being able to competently critique research became more apparent to the MSW students.

We started by looking at a timeline of per capita cigarette consumption in the United States with information about research findings and cultural events.

[INSERT FIGURE APPROXIMATELY HERE]

Evidence linking cigarette smoking to lung cancer emerged as early as the 1930s, yet cigarette consumption was on the rise propelled by massive marketing efforts from the tobacco industry.  Finally, in 1953 when the first laboratory experiments linking tar to cancerous tumors in mice were published, cigarette consumption plummeted.  In response, the tobacco industry began a public relations campaign to paint the industry as a concerned steward of public health and introduce the notion that there was a large degree of doubt about the role of cigarettes in causing lung cancer.  For every independent study that found a link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer, the industry countered there wasn’t hard proof. They created their own research institute which produced results that were friendly to the industry. Many Americans did not possess the knowledge nor have access to the literature to critically appraise the evidence about cigarette use.  The PR campaign was successful in sowing doubt among the public.  It was not until the late 1960s when anti-smoking campaigns reached large audiences through television that cigarette consumption began to decrease.  It took until the 1980s and 1990s for widespread public opinion to shift and cigarette consumption to plummet.  The efforts of the tobacco company to debunk and minimize legitimate science had held off the inevitable loss of profits for decades.  In the meantime, hundreds of thousands of Americans died from preventable lung cancer.

In light of this history, the MSW students considered the ways in which competency in research methods is a component of ethical social work practice.  A social worker with a strong understanding of research in the 1950s would have been well positioned to engage individuals, families, and communities and dispel misinformation about smoking, potentially saving lives. This applies to various “controversies” today.  A student who advocates for environmental justice, reflected on her feelings about the tobacco case. She said, “I can just imagine almost the exact same story in the future about climate change.”

As social workers, we do not directly affect the behavior of individual scientists. Yet, we have an important role in education and empowerment of our clients and advocacy to funders of research.  It is our ethical directive to promote justice and the well-being of individuals, families, organizations, and communities.  Understanding of research is one of the tools we possess to do this.

Social workers may not directly affect the behavior of individual scientists, but our profession has something to offer the STEM fields.  The core values of social work are the foundation from which all social work practice is conducted.  These values are made explicit in graduate training, continuing education, professional code of ethics, and professional associations.  Because of this, social workers have a default perspective from which to view research ethics – one that considers the dignity and worth of people, social justice, and integrity as cornerstones of scientific endeavor.  It seems to me that scientists could benefit from having explicit core values that are based on the well-being of humanity like those of social work.  Of course, it would not prevent unethical scientific behavior, but could elevate the conversation of ethics to a discussion of our shared humanity and the need for compassionate endeavors that benefit all.

 

rebecca

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Student_BlogPhilosophy is the mother of all disciplines, some version of this phrase can be heard in most intro to philosophy classes over the course of the semester, and although some part of it is a humorous shot at other disciplines there is a semblance of truth in it. Philosophy is defined as the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence. Thus the sciences are included as one of its many children. Science in its truest form is descriptive in its nature, and provides information on a topic, as they appear to be, meaning they provide a primarily sensory information. While, philosophy may also be descriptive it can also provide insight into how things should be, this is called normative philosophy. In specific, I will be discussing normative ethics as they relate to the sciences.

Science has typically taken a utilitarian view of ethics, this means that the morality of the action is determined by counting the amount of utiles (units of utility), in science it would be the number of people that it would essentially benefit. This is because utilitarianism is consequential, which means the intent, or the why something is done is not a consideration for science when determining if something is moral, all that matters is if the consequence of the action leads to the greatest amount of good. Utilitarianism also implies that morality can only be determined a posteriori, that is in retrospect, which would mean that one would not know if an action is moral or amoral until the action is completed. This line of reasoning in science seems intuitively flawed, but yet has maintained in science because it allows for the mentality of progress for the sake of progress.

If the morality of an experiment cannot be determined until after the experiment is completed, then those who desire scientific progress at the cost of moral progress would then be right in their blind pursuit of it. Experiments such as Tuskegee and the Radiation experiments are then not amoral at all, neither by the moral standards of today or yesterday, because the consequences of the experiment would determine their morality. This means that any experiment in science that produces new information would automatically be moral, because the objective moral weight of the new information is incalculable thus making the moral cost negligible. This the sort of flawed moral reasoning is what allowed scientists to sacrifice 399 men to syphilis, same reasoning that allowed 800 pregnant women to be exposed radioactive iron, etc…

This fundamental flaw in the production of science has also allowed industry to also take advantage of it, by taking on this a posteriori mentality, where an action is not amoral until after the negative outcomes culminate. This can be seen in both the chemical and tobacco industry, both these industries knew well before their employees and the public that their product were potentially toxic and life threatening but did nothing to stop or prevent it. The paradigm that we have allowed for science is that all science is inherently good, but perhaps we should apply the “precautionary principle,” to scientific endeavors, that is one must prove that a particular endeavor is not a danger to anyone and that it has benefits worth pursuing in order to move forward with it. Although, this may prove to be hindrance to some scientists and an obstacle to other it may give science the necessary moral guidance it needs to course correct.

In conclusion, science for too long has been simply accepted as true, we as a people who are impacted by it must learn to question it, be skeptical of it, and make an attempt to understand it, as opposed to simply believing in it. Scientists in the past have leveraged the morality of today for the sake of progress tomorrow, this can no longer be ignored. Scientist must prove moral and ethical soundness just as they must prove rational and structural soundness in relation to the scientific method. We are in an era where there need not be a choice between morality and progress, in fact what good science is the intersection of these two, and thus what we must the pursue is just that, good science.

Literature Cited:

philosophy – definition of philosophy in English | Oxford Dictionaries. (n.d.). Retrieved December 6, 2016, from https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/philosophy

THE HUMAN RADIATION EXPERIMENTS. (n.d.). Retrieved December 6, 2016, from http://www.whale.to/a/cantwell9.html

Tuskegee Study – Timeline – CDC – NCHHSTP. (n.d.). Retrieved December 6, 2016, from http://www.cdc.gov/tuskegee/timeline.htm


Student_BlogMarketing an idea or a product to a group of people is not a new practice among the human civilizations. In modern days, the marketing (and propaganda) strategies used to reach the consumer market have developed into elaborate and sophisticated schemes to persuade or even mislead the public about a product or idea. But marketing certainly existed on a smaller scale since the first day that man decided that he wanted another man to believe an idea or buy a product (so basically since the dawn of man). In the “olden days” information traveled through messenger, and information could take weeks, months, or years to reach the intended audience. In modern times information often reaches its audience within seconds. This has created an information overload on the modern men and women. It can be difficult for an audience to distill the information that is presented, and while there is more information available to the modern human, it can be a challenge to find the most truthful and un-biased information, especially in the field of scientific inquiry. One concept has not changed over time: a persons’ perception of something is easily influenced by the entity that is delivering the information.

 

A perfect modern example of the burden of information is that of climate change in the world, coined by the media as “global warming.” I was thinking about this the other day, how as a scientist today (albeit, biologic), I do not have a confident understanding about the scientific consensus on climate changing. This disappointed me, that as a person who considers herself to keep reasonable tabs on world news, and specifically environmental news, I did not have a good explanation and understanding on climate change.  As I got to thinking about this, I naturally went to the Internet to find my answers. An educated approach quickly led me to the conclusion that most refutable scientists (I think somewhere I read 97%) are supportive of the climate change hypothesis: that the accumulation of heat trapping gases is warming the planet, and that these heat trapping gasses are a product of human consumption. Okay, I thought…that is what I always thought…I think…but why was I not so sure before confirming on the Internet? And then I came to my next unsettling realization: that there is a lot of false science out there, and entities that are clearly pushing the notion that climate change is not real, portraying it as a dramatic over-reaction of hippie, environmentalist scientists who are sitting around with nothing better to do than cause undue stir amongst the consumer industries. That is when it hit me: this is a clear example of facts being muddled and mis-portrayed to the public in order to draw question of scientific conclusions that are going to complicate the success of a certain field. After all, there are a lot of industries that would stand to be damaged by a reduction in heat trapping gas emissions (automotive, coal, factory-based industries…to mention a few). And there is no easy way to get the truth out there. I can’t do it. You can go on the Internet and read a hundred editorials and articles from scientists that shout about how these industries are stampeding the effort to educate the public on the dangers of global warming…what good is my word going to do? The strength of doubt is a human characteristic that industries have capitalized for over centuries to push an agenda, to cast doubt among the public about knowledge that would be harmful to their industry, at the cost of potentially harming the human race. But simply and truly, the facts are out there. I am not a climate change scientist, but there are many of them. They agree almost unanimously (there will always be a few outliers..) that climate change is real, and is something that we need to address in order to avoid future deterioration of the earth. These are the facts, and they are available to an unbiased observer if they look.

 

So at this point, what do I do? Can I do anything? Well, it is admittedly impossible for one person to make the entire difference that will properly educate the public on global warming (especially when said person has a life beyond this new climate change obsession). However, a lot of individuals working independently, or together, can change public perception in a positive (or at least truthful) way, that can make a difference in how we approach policies and trends toward resources that reduce the offending omissions. So here I am doing a small part on behalf of the scientific truth (and with respect to mother earth), to help debunk the myth that climate change is not real. It is real, my friends, and increasing understanding of it and reducing the contribution to it is a task that we as a nation and world need to collectively be directly more attention to. Hopefully it will not be too late.


Student_BlogIt is extremely hard to argue with the fact that morals and ethics are a critical feature of individuals as well as society in general. On a daily basis, people and organizations are faced with choices that require a moral examination. As a result of the significance of these choices, it is not astonishing that scholars have spent centuries trying to define valuable and reliable ethical theories. Nonetheless, even with the presence of some extremely effective theories, these theories can’t be static. They should be consistently revised and upgraded and new solutions should be found where necessary so that we can be consistent with our ethics even in new circumstances. This becomes even more important when quick changes occur in our surroundings such as the growth and development of information technology in the previous decades. The technology we now use on a daily basis has created entirely new moral challenges that must be considered. Several of the ethical challenges can be addressed using some of the well-developed theories while other require us to come up with entirely new solutions. One such ethical challenge that has emerged is hacktivism, which has pushed activism into the field of information technology.

The term hacktivism is a combination of ‘hacking’ and ‘activism’ and according to Wikipedia, “Hacktivism is the subversive use of computers and computer networks to promote a political agenda”. Hacktivism has its roots in hacker culture and hacker ethics and its objectives are often related to the free speech, human rights, or freedom of information movements. Hacktivism emerged in the late 1980’s at a time when hacking for fun and profit were becoming noticeable threats.  Since then we have witnessed various hacktivism incidents like the Fox.com attack, the Sony PlayStation network hack, DDOS attacks against various government and financial organizations protesting against their policies. There have been various hacktivist groups like LulzSec, Lizard Squad, Chaos Computer Club and perhaps the most widely known group Anonymous.

It is very difficult for activists in small numbers to draw attention to the issues that they protest against. Hence, it is very tempting for them to pull stunts in order to raise awareness. Perhaps, hacktivism is also just that – an effort to pull stunts to draw attention to the issues that hacktivists support. The hackers of Anonymous have been known to use Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks against various organization like the church of Scientology, for organizing gatherings like the ‘Million Mask March’ and ‘Operation Safe Winter’ etc. All these activities have effectively drawn the attention of the public towards the issues that Anonymous opposes and have motivated changes in the mindset of people, the society and some cases even changes in legislation. The most famous case of hacktivism that led to changes in society are the actions of the internet vigilantes ‘The Jester’ who have put a lot of effort into disrupting the websites of alleged terrorist organizations as well as hacker groups that compromise the safety and security of people. However, the question we need to ask ourselves is whether the actions taken by hacktivists is ethical or not. Obviously, the answer varies from person to person but on a whole it becomes harder to judge.

On the surface, these attacks can seem to simply be a retaliation—an eye for an eye. Personally, I’ve never been comfortable with that stance. To me, activism should be about rectification rather than revenge. So can hacktivism ethically meet this criteria? Hacktivists have traditionally favored DDoS attacks to bring down the web content of organizations that they oppose and replace it with the message that they want to pass on to the general public. There are two ways to view this, on one end DDoS attacks can be viewed similar to the graffiti someone paints on a wall or the way protestors blockade a building. On the other end, this can affect the businesses of small organizations who depend on their web presence to make money. In extreme cases of hacktivism, we also see a few cases of hacktivists stealing confidential and private documents and releasing it to the public. This obviously raises red flags about violation of the victims’ privacy. However, the released documents may also bring to light terrorist activities, corruption in the government etc. Hence, the key thing to note here is that justification for such attacks is not so simple. The answer varies from case to case. In the end, all this boils down to whether the end justifies the means. We need to ask ourselves what is acceptable or not. The hackers in particular are faced with the ethical dilemma of what is right and wrong and ‘how much is too much’.

Being a student of computer science myself, I have pondered on the ethics of hacktivism for quite some time. After thinking a lot, I do agree that hacktivism is a genuine form of protest. There are so many cases where hacktivists have galvanized the general public to sit up and take notice and to do something about the issues they face. The serious nature of hacktivism necessitates that it be one of the final options of protest when all other methods have failed. It’s a rather aggressive tactic that’s more likely to intimidate and aggravate rather than promote progressive dialogue between two parties. It is up to us to think critically about the consequences of these activities. We have to establish ground rules in the changing society of today so that we respect a person’s right to voice his opinion while also being mindful of the fact that someone else’s privacy and business is not affected.

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hacktivism

https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2015/09/history_of_hack.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anonymous_(group)

https://www.ischool.utexas.edu/~netsec/against.html

https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/how-ethical-is-the-hacktivism-of-anonymous/2011/09/11

We are Legion! – A complete documentary about the hacktivist group Anonymous


Student_BlogWhat is the threshold beyond which any action can be demarcated as unethical? And who is to decide the severity of unethical action? Is there a scale to measure the degree of ethical behavior?  I think there is no definitive answer to these questions as ethics is dynamic depending upon the circumstances or the pros and cons of any action. An ethical behavior under certain conditions may be deemed unethical in a different condition. Ethics in science is probably the most regulated aspect compared to other fields with respect to ethical research approach. But there are still certain issues relating ethics in science that are always hotly debated whenever they come up: race, intelligence and gender. These topics are the apples of discord in modern science, just like the Golden Apple of Discord which sparked a vanity-fueled dispute among the gods eventually leading to the Trojan War, when the goddess Eris tossed it in the middle of a feast of the gods as a prize of beauty(Gall and Gall 2006).

Controversy is imminent whenever there is any scientific study concerning race, intelligence and gender. Different religious beliefs, political faith and cultural taboos are some of the obvious reasons for the dispute, largely because of the suspicion about what motivates these study. Since there are evidences of larger genetic variability among individuals within a race than individuals of different races, the use of race as a category for medical vulnerabilities adds fuel to the fire. A very good example is the ‘Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male’ where rural African-American men were unethically included in a clinical study(Jones 1981). The basis of this infamous experiment was the assumption that black population have different genetic makeup than white people. Cases like this have highlighted the controversy in science with respect to race, but the issue of race at times becomes so much emphasized that it hinders genuine research as well.

Similarly, studies regarding intelligence have also sparked controversy as reports of abuses and bullying of people deemed mentally inferior, have surfaced. Individuals, with intellectual disabilities, minorities and especially poor people in developing countries around the world are the ones to suffer because of the prevalent ignorance and lack of education. In the nineteenth century, after British anthropologist Francis Galton indicated that extraordinary abilities as well as deficits were inherited (Galton 1883), incidents of forced sterilization of people deemed mentally inferior were reported in countries around the world. Even recently, there was a study looking at stronger genetic correlations to intelligence, which the researchers claimed to be helpful in identifying preschoolers who required more intensive early childhood education. The results were condemned and criticized for ignoring more significant non-genetic factors such as poverty.

With the acceptance of third gender in various parts of the world, homosexuality is also one of the disputed topics in research. The NIH has prioritized the research on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people but on the other hand, a scientific report suggesting that a region of the X chromosome might be linked to homosexuality(Hamer, Hu et al. 1993) had to face fierce criticism from political conservatives. As much as it is confusing and controversial, these issues are inflicting as they raise the difficult questions of accountability and responsibility that everyone want to avoid.

Such controversies and complications are unavoidable in this modern society where every scientific research is under scrutiny. Although the results of such scientific researches may be interpreted in a wrong way, it doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be studied. But the potential of misuses of the information should always be taken care of. Amidst all these complexities, it is a challenge for all scientists to maintain the balance between power and responsibility whereby there is optimum utilization of power without disregarding the responsibility.

 

References

Gall, T. L. and S. B. Gall (2006). “The lincoln library of Greek and Roman mythology.” Lincoln Library Press: 16.

Galton, F. (1883). “Inquiries into Human faculty and its development ” London, England: Macmillan and Co.: 24-25.

Hamer, D. H., S. Hu, et al. (1993). “A linkage between DNA markers on the X chromosome and male sexual orientation.” Science 261(5119): 321-327.

Jones, J. H. (1981). “Bad Blood: The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment.” New York: Free press.

 

 

 


Student_BlogImagine creating genetically modified human beings. Imagine creating children that are free of genetic or inherited diseases like Hemochromatosis and Cystic Fibrosis. Imagine that the scientists in near future can modify the DNA in eggs, the sperm of the embryos to protect people from a tendency to be prone to certain kinds of cancer and other diseases. Imagine putting an end to all inherited diseases. We can finally configure human beings with zero tendency of acquiring diseases due to genetic flaws.

All of this is possible with germline engineering and we are not very far away from mastering this art. But, like all fair things, germline engineering has its boon and bane. The major hindrance to getting the permission for public use is not a technical shortcoming but the breach of ethics and social issues.

  • For a few traits, it is pretty straight forward to declare them as disabilities but for the major chunk of traits, what yardstick do we use to describe the trait as a disability or a disorder? Who will decide?
  • According to polls conducted by STAT-Harvard in 2011, the majority of people in America disapprove of designer babies, even to prevent serious inherited diseases. Is it fair or unfair for natural babies to compete with designer babies?
  • The idea of changing what many believe as the blueprint of human life raises a question about playing God?
  • Germline engineering is an expensive therapy, will this favor the rich? Individuals with financial means will have easier access to the gene technology. Will this increase the disparity of living standards between the rich and the poor? Is it ethical that only some people have access to this procedure?
  • How will the society accept the people with this gene therapy? Will the widespread use of this gene therapy make society less accepting of people who are different?
  • The technical hindrance is that there haven’t been any human trials. It works on mice and monkeys but it there has been no human trial. The germline engineering may be unpredictable and there are estimates that only 20 – 40 % of trials will succeed. Hence deleting parts of human DNA and not editing and may cause mutations. This event is a big red flag in the ethics of medical and biological research.
  • Totalitarian governments can misuse this therapy to produce either highly superior humans or they may produce less enhanced human for purposes of slavery. How and who will keep in check that there is no such misuse of the therapy.
  • Should the people be allowed to use this gene technology to enhance the basic human traits like intelligence, emotional quotient, athletic ability and height? Will this not create more difference between modified people and non-modified people?
  • Basically, how can we justify or even distinguish the use of this gene therapy for ‘good’ and ‘bad’? Who will decide?

There is an old song by Ed Ames (given in the description below) which makes me realize that the trouble of dealing with germline engineering bioethics is not just limited to finding ‘what is the answer’ but to consensually decide ‘who will answer.’ Approval and widespread acceptance of germline engineering need to have the consent of the general public and people with varied opinions and ethical values make it very difficult to come to a consensus before we start editing people’s sperm and egg cells.

Germline engineering is an irreversible therapy. More than 40 countries have banned germline engineering because of its ability to breach the codes of scientific ethics. Genetic engineering and controversies have had a very old relationship. People who are not yet born, they can’t choose whether to have the therapy and hence it may violate the human right of every individual going under this gene editing. We cannot work on a scientific endeavor without solving its ethical issues first, so, the best option is to come to a moratorium worldwide. Gene altering technology is the prime example of benefits and consequences of modern science. It has made humanity too powerful and we need moral wisdom and ethical values to use it for the betterment of the humanity.

 

 

References

[1] About Human Germline Gene Editing
– Center for Genetics and Society

[2] What are the ethical issues surrounding gene therapy.
https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov

[3] Sade RM, Khushf G. Gene therapy: ethical and social issues. J So Carolina Med Assoc 1998;94(9):406-410

[4] The Science Behind ‘Genetically Modified Humans
– Hank Green

[5] Ed Ames “Who will answer”
       https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iseWPQR8fng


Student_BlogHave you ever thought of travelling to Mars? This is the dream for many people around the globe. So when a project called Mars One announced that it offers one-way trip tickets to Mars to a handful of suitable candidates, more than 200,000 people filled out the initial application form in 2013.

The idea of landing on Mars, discovering new horizons, having the opportunity to meet aliens (if there are any) and expanding the boundaries of astronomy seems exciting at first. Many scientist viewed it as a great opportunity to make a wish come true and supported this project. However, there were many who were concerned about not only technical but also ethical aspects of it.

Definitely this is not the first time that man is sent to the outer space. Astronauts has already been to the moon and they are constantly present in space station. Hence, many argue that moral aspects have already been addressed. However, the scope of Mars One is much larger than any previous astronomy projects. The goal of this project is to “land first humans on Mars and establish a permanent human colony by 2026.”

At first glance, there might be no ethical issues to be concerned with. However, a closer investigations reveal substantial moral concerns. The final crew of the space shuttle will start a non-return journey which takes approximately a year. To make this dream come true, teams of experts in several field are required to first make it possible and second address probable future problems. Aerospace, electrical and mechanical engineers along with medical doctors and psychiatrist are in the front line and are in charge of predicting and overcoming difficulties and minimizing the dangers and risks to the lives of crew. Any computational or technical error, even a trivial one, may lead to loss of lives and millions of dollars. The same is true in terms of choosing the crew. Imagine that you got stuck in a small house surrounded by people you cannot get along with and there is no other option other than team work and cooperation with one another to survive. Hence, choosing members of this space shuttle is a big responsibility. A team of experts including psychologists and psychiatrists, physicians and scientists is required to go through the applicant pool, interview them, consider their level of intelligence and purpose for applying, their current physical and mental status and other factors to finalize the crew. The next step is even more sophisticated; teach them all they need to know in space and make them good technicians. There is no access to physicians or engineers so they should be jack of all trades.  Here comes one of the main moral concerns; what if one of the shuttle crew has heart attack and needs a heart surgery. It is obvious that such a case cannot be handled by astronauts or instructions from control center on earth. The person should be left to suffer and die. Space is an unforgiving place. So if signals between space shuttle and control center were interrupted, no one would know what would happen to poor crew.

Imagine that you get up on the wrong side of the bed one day. Perhaps fresh air, walking in a park or hanging out with your friends make you feel better. These options are not you available on the space shuttle. You have to get up and start working to maintain the performance of your habitat. Studies have shown that being confined in a small place for a long period of time can cause depression and anxiety. Combined with physical implications, crew are exposed to severe and probably irreversible damages.

It has been shown that space radiation and zero gravity affects human body deleteriously. However, the extent of their long term consequences is yet to be known. So technically the crew are prone to health implications which may not only affect them but also the goals of the project since space radiation may cause infertility. Having said that a serious ethical concerns is establishing a colony on Mars. Should a married couple be chosen or crews are expected to make love? Colonizing project will be in danger if they reject to do so. On the other hand, pregnancy in outer space might lead to defects on developing fetus and even if the child was born normally, he would be deprived of living a normal life.

No incidence of disobedience or inappropriate social behavior has been documented on space station. However, all astronauts knew that they would return to space. But in a one way trip to Mars, where there is no Judge or Police, what will happen if one of the crew hurt or rape others, what if Stanford experiment repeats, what if crew goes against control center.

Overall, what I mentioned above are only few issues among a long list of moral and ethical aspects of Mars one that should be addressed before the project continues. Some scientists argue that this is the price that human generation should pay to explore the universe. Argues may rise as the applicants already gave their consent and are fully aware of the risk associated with this trip. Nevertheless, it is definitely the responsibility of all scientists and engineers involved to clarify potential risks and deal with them accordingly

Refrences:

  1. mars-one.com
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/dec/11/mars-one-ethical-questions-bas-lansdorp
  3. http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2014/10/astronaut_bioethics_would_it_be_unethical_to_give_birth_on_mars.html
  4. http://www.techtimes.com/articles/12357/20140806/is-a-one-way-mission-to-mars-ethical-is-it-sane.htm
  5. http://www.nasa.gov/hrp/bodyinspace