Friday, July 11, 2014

UW-Madison's "Ethicists'" Ethical Failure

According to the University of Wisconsin, Madison, its "Department of Medical History and Bioethics dates back to 1950, when the University of Wisconsin Medical School created a Department of the History of Medicine, the second department of its kind in the country. The Program in Medical Ethics has been an integral part of the department since its founding in 1973."

Ethics deals with moral principles.

Bioethics is the ethics of medical and biological research.

Ethicists try to come up with the things we ought to do in cases that do not seem to have matter-of-fact or obvious moral answers. They wrestle with uncertainty and ambiguity as they try to reason out what the moral or ethical person ought to do.

From my vantage, because they are being paid by tax dollars, the bioethicists at UW-Madison's Department of Medical History and Bioethics are acting unethically because they have proven to be unable or unwilling to voice an opinion about a current issue involving their own institution that is not terribly hard to understand.

Their primary responsibility is to the taxpayers who are forced give some of each dollar they earn toward their salaries and their lavish benefits. When the public is put at grave risk by research underway at their ivory towered institution they have a clear responsibility to speak out, to make their voices heard, individually if not in concert.

But not a single one of them has so much as made a peep about their institution's steadfast defense of research that senior scientists elsewhere are saying puts humanity at grave risk.

This situation tests their claim that they are doing something meaningful or of benefit to society. A problem of immediate import was laid at their feet, it sits there still, and they ignore it. In this case, their silence is a profound ethical failure. They put you and me at risk. The reasons for their spiritless myopia and weak spines are part of the collection of similar regrettable behaviors described by social scientists who have documented the ethical failures so common throughout history in institutions like the University of Wisconsin.

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