Another great review for “Where Science & Ethics Meet”

The February 2-8th 2017 Edition of Times Higher Education (number 2291) carried another enthusiastic review for Where Science and Ethics Meet.

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Review of Neurolaw text

neuroloaw1b.jpgThe October 2016 edition of the Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics has a special focus on Clinical Neuroethics. It contains a review of my Neurolaw book Biological Determinism, Free Will and Moral Responsibility: Insights from genetics and neuroscience.

I’m thrilled that the review is hugely positive about the book. Quotable quotes include:

  • “…a very accessible explanation of the need to reconsider notions of free will and moral responsibility in an age of scientific breakthroughs in genomics and brain science…”
  • “…an insightful philosophical account of the apparent stand-off between free will and the evidence of determinism…”
  • “…a remarkably lucid account of the relevance of science for the debate on free will and determinism…”
  • “…an impressive prudential approach, balancing the reliability of scientific achievement with caution about its applicability to criminal courts…”
  • “…an extraordinary resource for engaging moral responsibility in the age of genetics and neuroscience…”.

One day in Alzira…

It seems that November is shaping up as a bit of a European tour for me. Trips later in the months to Naples and Edinburgh have been on the cards for a while, but my friend and colleague Salvador Macip and I ended up popped to Alzira, Spain on November 8th for 24 hours. This unusual behaviour was prompted by our success in winning the European Prize for the Popularization of Science.

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This was the 19th year that the European Prize for the Popularization of Science has been awarded

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Cybermen and Transhumanism

There has been some controversy in the last 24 hours about the early release by Amazon of the much anticipated Grand Theft Auto V. In a less newsworthy, but personally more exciting, way I also seem to have been the beneficiary of a premature dispatch by the online retailer. Yesterday I received a pre-ordered copy of New Dimensions of Doctor Who: Adventures in Space, Time and Television: Exploring Space, Time and Television even though it is not officially released until the end of the month.

New Dimensions of Doctor Who is one of several titles due out as the 50th anniversary of the iconic TV series approaches

New Dimensions of Doctor Who is one of several titles due out as the 50th anniversary of the iconic TV series approaches

The book includes a chapter The Cybermen and Human.2 written with my former research assistant Bonnie Green. The first version of the chapter was written some while back, so I am delighted that it has finally seen the light of day. In the chapter we reflect on the Cybermen as upgraded versions of humans, and therefore how, within this speculative fiction, they can serve as examples for consideration with regard to the views of transhumanists who are in favour of directed evolution of Homo sapiens beyond our natural capabilities.

What’s Good on TV? Understanding Ethics Through TV

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A good idea, but unfortunately WGonTV fails to deliver

I have recently completed a review of What’s Good on TV? for the BUFVC magazine Viewfinder. As the subtitle of the book implies, it is intended to be a guide to understanding ethics using television-based examples in place of the classic “An out of control train is rushing down the tracks towards a group of unsuspecting children…” style examples beloved of ethics textbooks.

As the review shows in more detail, I love the concept (my other blog over at BioethicsBytes tries to achieve similar goals). Unfortunately I felt that the book didn’t quite hit the mark. I have a number of significant reservations about the appropriateness of the chosen examples for educational use in the UK (both in terms of the familiarity and the explicit nature of some of the content). I also craved rather more detail from the authors regarding the ways that they use the recommended programmes.

JK Rowling and the Assessment Dilemma

JK Rowling’s first post-Potter novel

This is a thought-in-progress rather than a full-blown post. Whilst browsing around on the Amazon website last week I happened to notice that JK Rowling had a new novel “The Casual Vacancy” coming out. What struck me most was the low star-rating the book was apparently scoring… not least because it hadn’t actually been published yet. Curious, I clicked onto the customer feedback to find out what was going on.

It quickly transpired that the panning the book was receiving had nothing to do with the written word. Instead Kindle-owners were venting their wrath about the fact that the ebook was retailing for more than the hardback. “too expensive”, “why did I buy a kindle”, “rip off”, “disgusted” cried the subject lines of the comments*.

Rather than rating the quality of Ms Rowling’s story, the intended focus of the feedback, the potential customers were using the only channel open to them to register a different complaint about.

This set me thinking about the kind of Module Assessment feedback Universities gather from students. If we haven’t provided them with appropriate mechanisms to raise issues about which they are dissatisfied, then there is a danger that the numeric module feedback we receive may actually mean something entirely different to the interpretation we later place upon it.

(* as it happens the feedback since the book was published has continued to be pretty rotten, but this doesn’t negate the original observation)

Effective Learning in the Life Sciences

The book was edited by David Adams, Director of the UK Centre of Biosciences until September 2011

Today I have received my copy of Effective Learning in the Life Sciences: how students can achieve their full potential. As the subtitle implies, the book is targeted first and foremost at students wanting to make the most of their time at university, and at academics helping them to reach that goal.

1. Creativity (David Adams and Kevin Byron)

2. Problem solving: developing critical, evaluative, and analytical thinking skills (Tina Overton)

3. In the laboratory (Pauline Millican and David Adams)

4. Fieldwork (Julie Peacock, Julian Park and Alice Mauchline)

5. In vivo work (David Lewis)

6. Research projects (Martin Luck)

7. Maths and stats for biologists (Dawn Hawkins)

8. E-learning for biologists (Jo Badge, Jon Scott and Terry McAndrew)

9. Bioethics (Chris Willmott)

10. Assessment, feedback and review (Steve Maw and Paul Orsmond)

11. Communication in the biosciences (Joanna Verran and Maureen Dawson)

12. Bioenterprise (Lee Beniston, David Adams and Carol Wakeford)