Ethics in Science

Instructor    Carlos Mariscal
TAs   Lisbeth Nielsen
Lectures    Th. 15:05-16:55 LSC-C338
Tutorials    W. 16:35-17:25 LSC-C338
Office Hours    Weekdays 2-3 @LSC Common Area

Course Goals & Methods

Society often finds itself lagging behind scientific advancements, which not only raise complicated ethical and policy questions, but force us to reconsider fundamental concepts like ‘parent,’ ‘death,’ and ‘enhancement.’ Scientists are at the forefront of these innovations, and so may find themselves facing novel issues which are not addressed in a traditional education.
This course will familiarize students with ethical issues that may arise in the study and practice of science. We will become familiar with philosophical approaches to ethics as well as with how to employ these approaches in order to recognize, reflect, and act on ethical issues that arise in scientific research.


30% Final Paper
20% Ethics Bowl
20% Peer Review
10% First Essay
20% Weekly Assignments & Library Assignments

Final Paper
The final paper for this course will be a 1500-2500 word paper on a topic of the student’s choosing. It must make contact with one of the topics discussed in the lectures or text.

Ethics Bowl
The final event in this class will be an Ethics Bowl!
Groups will be assigned a topic and face off in a combination presentation/debate. Details to follow.

Peer Review
Students will anonymously provide critical feedback on drafts of other, anonymized papers (500 words). Reviews will be graded on a combination of charity, comprehension, and critical insight.

First Essay
The first essay for this course will be a 900-word paper on a set topic, to be posted online.

Weekly Assignments & Library Assignments
In absolutely no more than 250 words, you will be asked to write abstracts, reconstruct articles, analyze codes of ethics,  and more.
Library assignments will be handed out during the library workshops. These assignments are designed to help you with your referencing and scholarly research skills. Assignments are due 48 hour after they are handed out to the designated drop box in the library.

Required Reading

The text for this course is Ethics and Science, by Briggle & Mitcham (B&M in the syllabus). All other writings will be distributed here.


I urge you to send comments, questions, and concerns via email to your TA or myself. We will respond promptly. I have also provided my phone number for last minute questions, concerns, and emergencies.

Academic Assistance

If you have or believe you have a disability and would benefit from any accommodations, you may wish to contact Academic Support Accessibility at 494-2836 or
For writing assistance, contact your TAs or the Writing Centre at, or 494-1963.
If you have problems outside of class impeding your ability to do your coursework, please contact the Counselling and Psychological Services at 494.2081 or
If there’s something strange in the neighborhood, please call the Ghostbusters at 1-212-897-1964.


(Lecture classes are highlighted in gold)

Date Kind Reading Assignment
Sept 10 L Syllabus, B&M Ch. 3,
“Science and its norms”
Sept 16 T  **Meet at Library Atrium** Library Assignment
Sept 17 L  B&M Ch. 2, “Ethical Concepts & Theories Analyze a Code of Ethics
Sept 23 T
Sept 30 T
Oct 1 L  Rachel Carson, Silent Spring (selections) Argument Reconstruction
Oct 7 L  B&M Ch. 4, “Research Ethics I: Responsibility” First Essay Due
(Special note: This class meets instead of your Psychology & Neuroscience class)
Oct 7 T  **Meet at Dunn 301A** Citation Assignment
Oct 14 T
Oct 15 L  B&M Ch. 6, “Research Ethics III: Animals”  Critically Review IRB Application
Oct 21 T
Oct 22 L  B&M Ch. 5, “Research Ethics II: Humans”
Oct 28 T
Oct 29 L B&M Ch. 12, “Science Applied: Ethics & Engineering”
Nov 4 T  John Bohannon, “Who’s Afraid of Peer Review?” Review Article on Peer Review
Nov 5 L  Guest Lecture by Angel Petropanagos Final Paper Draft Due
Nov 18 T  **Meet at Dunn 301A**   Database Assignment
Nov 19 L   B&M Ch. 9, “Science & Policy: Policy for Science”
Nov 25 T
Nov 26 L   B&M Ch. 10, “Science & Policy: Science for Policy”   Peer Review Due
Dec 2 T Presentations
Dec 3 L  B&M Ch. 11, “Science and Ideational Culture” Presentations