Week 4 discussons
Ethics of Controlling Environmental Innovation (graded)
Increasing food supplies are necessary to sustain growing populations around the world and their appetites for great food, quality products, and continuous availability.
A great deal of expensive research is invested in developing technologies to deliver productive agriculture. Horticultural efforts to breed hybrid crops are seen as far back as history can observe, and there have been efforts to domesticate improved animals, as well. Gene splitting was a 1990s technology to improve the health and productivity of farm crops. With the 21st century have come genetically modified foods (GMF) through the use of nanotechnology to cause changes at the genetic and even molecular levels. These are very expensive technologies, and many new products have been patented and otherwise protected as proprietary products of intellectual property.
Drive out to the country during growing season, and you will see signs identifying that the crop has been grown with a protected seed that cannot be used to produce retained seed for planting in the next growing season.
In terms of this week’s TCOs, what ethical issues are raised by this legal process of patent protection, and how do we see the primary schools of ethics used in these proprietary measures? What, in this deontological week and in our learning to date, informs our understanding of this situation, and what should be done about it?
Kant – Accomplice to Crazed Murderer? (graded)
Kant’s famous First Formulation of the Categorical Imperative reads:
“Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.” Kant taught morality as a matter of following maxims of living that reflect absolute laws. “Universal” is a term that allows for no exceptions, and what is universal applies always and everywhere. Lying, for any reason, is universally wrong.
Be sure to listen to Kant’s audio lecture before posting this week!
So, consider the famous case of the Crazed Murderer. In your town the Crazed Murderer comes to your door looking for your friend and wanting to kill him. You know that your friend went home to hide. What do you tell the murderer? When he leaves and runs up the street to your friend’s house, what do you do?