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March 17, 1988 - Image 59

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The Michigan Daily, 1988-03-17

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of Government Ethics, is one of about two
dozen staffers whose principal task is to
help enforce the 1965 federal ethics law. It
prohibits government employees from ac-
cepting gifts, loans or special favors from
any party that can be legally or economi-
. cally affected by the actions of that em-
ployee or his office.
Consulting adults: The most common que-
ries to Janes come from employees who are
leaving their federal jobs and plan to start
consulting firms. Janes also examined the
financial-disclosure statements of Presi-
dent Reagan's new commerce secretary,
William Verity, to establish that he had no
conflicts of interest. After three years on
the job, what Janes notices most is that she
has become more sensitive to ethical issues
in her own professional life. She once re-
turned flowers from a government official
who was grateful for her efforts in setting
up a blind trust because "it creates the
appearance of impropriety."
Perhaps the fastest-rising field for ethi-
cists lies within medicine. Practitioners of
bioethics attempt to answer questions
raised by man's new abilities to extend or
even mold and create life. Bioethics began
to develop in the early '70s when cases such
as that of Karen Ann Quinlan-whose par-
ents had to go to court to get life-support
systems turned off although she lay in an
irreversible coma-alerted the public to
the emerging ambiguities. And the poten-

tial of recombinant DNA demonstrates
that the ethical problems of the laboratory
promise to be as difficult as those of the
Although the field is still evolving, the
routes to a career in bioethics are somewhat

clearer than in other branches
of ethics. Those who look to aca-
deme or think tanks must earn
law degrees or doctorates in ar-
eas such as philosophy or reli-
gious studies. There are also
a number of established pro-
grams at places like George-
town or the University of
Virginia that are specifically
geared toward training bioethi-
cists. But Daniel Callahan, di-
rector of the Hastings Cen-
ter, believes that the special
programs should be avoided; he
says the Ph.D.'s offered in such
a rapidly changing discipline
may not hold up as well as those
offered in more traditional reli-
gious studies or philosophy.
Clinical realities: Bioethicists
who serve on hospital ethics
boards or work as consultants
must also have clinical experi-
ence or medical degrees. Per-
ALELLA LTD. haps the most direct way to get
Boesky abioethics job, says Ruth Mack-
lin, a bioethicist at Montefiore
Hospital in New York, is to gain an M.D.,
then pursue a second degree in another
field. For nonphysicians, Macklin says, "it
could be a disadvantage to march in and sit
on an ethics committee. It is not the lack of
knowledge of clinical medicine but the lack
of knowledge of real-world clini-
cal realities that could be
Macklin recently consulted
on a case in which parents
refused to consent to an opera-
corpo- tion for their minor child be-
into cause of their religious beliefs.
Macklin's job was to present
est in all of the issues to the at-
itions tending physicians and to the
nsen- ethics committee: Is a medi-
ld be cal procedure more important
Busi- than religious beliefs? What
now would the child's life be like
estion with and without the opera-
a new tion? The committee decided
enter. that the physicians should con-
r's in- tinue trying to persuade the
for- child's parents to agree to the
lange operation. While discussions
John went on, the child died. Even if
on to the operation had been per-
ol im- formed successfully, Macklin
e sub- observes, the child could have
lately suffered an unpleasant life
n of a with a potentially alienated
ut has family. It is such uncertainties
ails of and complexities that make an
it will ethicist's career both intrigu-
core ing and fulfilling.
in Washington, MICHAEL CANTOR
in Urbana-Champaign and '

Moral Courses Across the Curriculum

Ethics has become a popu-
lar part of the curriculum
at a growing number of
schools. At Dartmouth, the
readings in one class range
from Socrates and Plato toOl-
lie North. Stanford students
can major in an interdisci-
plinary program called Val-
ues, Technology and Science
in Society. And at the Univer-
sity of Michigan, students
in a chemical-engineering
course analyze taped presen-
tations on situations where
an ethical decision must be
made. In one example, one ea-
ger supplies salesman offers
an expensive attach6 case to
an engineer while others
hand out nothing more than
company pens. Students de-
bate: should largesse influ-
ence their choice? "It's wres-
tling with yourself and your
relationship with other peo-

ple," says Frank Donahue, a
Michigan professor of chemi-
cal engineering. "This is an
integral part oftraining."
Expanded offerings: The core
curriculum at Harvard has
always contained a "moral
reasoning" component, but
the university recently ex-
panded its ethics offerings.
Funded by a $1.5 million
contribution from American
Express, the Program of Eth-
ics in the Professions, housed
at the Kennedy School of
Government, has just signed
on its first four fellows from
the fields of law, business,
government and medicine.
The fellowswill conduct inde-
pendent research projects for
a year before returning to
their professions; the pro-
gram will also attempt to de-
velopnew teaching materials
and train professors through-

out the university to inc
rate moral reasoning
their courses.
For all the new inter
ethics, however, institu
have not developed a co
sus on ways it shou
taught. The Harvard
ness School, for one, is
struggling with the qu
of how best to establish
leadership and ethics c
In the wake of last yea
sider-trading scandals
mer Securities and Exch
Commission chairman
Shad pledged $20 milli
help the business scho
prove its teaching of th
ject. The school immed
announced the creatio
$30 million program, bt
yet to release any deta
its plans-except to say
not make ethics a

APRIL 1988


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