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1.  Indicators of deprivation, voting patterns, and health status at area level in the Republic of Ireland 
Study objective: To determine what relation, if any, exists between mortality patterns, indicators of deprivation, general lifestyle and social attitudes, as exemplified by general election voting pattern, in the Republic of Ireland. A relation has been demonstrated previously between voting and mortality patterns in the United Kingdom.
Design: Cross sectional ecological study using three data sources. Standardised mortality ratios (SMR) were based on mortality rates at county level and 1996 census data from the Central Statistics Office, 1997 general election first preference voting data in all 41 constituencies were aggregated to county level. Selected reported measures of health status, lifestyle and social circumstances are from the first ever National survey on lifestyles, attitudes and nutrition (SLAN). This study comprised adults over 18 years sampled by post using the electoral register from 273 representative district electoral divisions. Univariate inter-relations were examined at individual level for the dataset as a whole, adjusting for age and at aggregated level for 26 county borough areas, which included the two largest cities and for 22 county areas, which afforded correlation with voting pattern, using the method of Pearson's correlation coefficient.
Participants: 1 806 932 votes were cast nationally at the 1997 general election, representing a voter turnout of 65.92 %. There was an overall response rate of 62% to SLAN comprising 6539 adults (47% male). The demographic pattern of survey respondents was consistent with that of the general population over 18 years.
Main results: At individual level there was a large number of highly significant inter-relations between indicators of deprivation, various measures of self rated health status and lifestyle factors. Aggregated at 26 county level percentage unemployed (r=0.408, p=0.038), and level of education (r=0.475, p=0.014) related significantly to SMR and inversely to both fruit and vegetable consumption (r=-0.672, p=0.001) and excess alcohol consumption among men (r=-595, p=0.003). Those rating their health as fair or poor were more likely to report a poor quality of life (r=0.487, p=0.022), to have none or primary school education only (r=0.428, p=0.047), or to have a means tested medical services card (r=0.428, p=0.047). There was no significant relation between SMR and voting pattern for the two main political parties (67.28% first preferences) but a significant relation with left wing voting (r=0.446, p=0.037). Fianna Fail voting pattern was inversely related to level of dissatisfaction with health (r= -0.59, p<0.05). There was a positive significant relation between left wing voting and dissatisfaction with health (r=0.51, p<0.02) and rate of smoking (r=0.47, p=0.03). Smoking pattern also related positively to rates of voter abstention (r=0.526, p=0.12).
Conclusions: These data are consistent with those in other countries in showing a relation between deprivation indicators and lifestyle, but differ in that no relation with SMR and the votes cast for the main parties was seen in a country with a mainly centre right voting pattern. The relation between left wing voting pattern and some indicators of deprivation and lifestyle suggest that party political voting patterns and affiliations could be a useful indicator of vertical social capital. However, its variability as a measure across countries suggests that the inter-relation between sociocultural and economic factors and the consequent influence on health status is not straightforward.
PMCID: PMC1732001  PMID: 11801618
2.  The Chilling Effect: How Do Researchers React to Controversy? 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(11):e222.
Can political controversy have a “chilling effect” on the production of new science? This is a timely concern, given how often American politicians are accused of undermining science for political purposes. Yet little is known about how scientists react to these kinds of controversies.
Methods and Findings
Drawing on interview (n = 30) and survey data (n = 82), this study examines the reactions of scientists whose National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded grants were implicated in a highly publicized political controversy. Critics charged that these grants were “a waste of taxpayer money.” The NIH defended each grant and no funding was rescinded. Nevertheless, this study finds that many of the scientists whose grants were criticized now engage in self-censorship. About half of the sample said that they now remove potentially controversial words from their grant and a quarter reported eliminating entire topics from their research agendas. Four researchers reportedly chose to move into more secure positions entirely, either outside academia or in jobs that guaranteed salaries. About 10% of the group reported that this controversy strengthened their commitment to complete their research and disseminate it widely.
These findings provide evidence that political controversies can shape what scientists choose to study. Debates about the politics of science usually focus on the direct suppression, distortion, and manipulation of scientific results. This study suggests that scholars must also examine how scientists may self-censor in response to political events.
Drawing on interview and survey data, Joanna Kempner's study finds that political controversies shape what many scientists choose not to study.
Editors' Summary
Scientific research is an expensive business and, inevitably, the organizations that fund this research—governments, charities, and industry—play an important role in determining the directions that this research takes. Funding bodies can have both positive and negative effects on the acquisition of scientific knowledge. They can pump money into topical areas such as the human genome project. Alternatively, by withholding funding, they can discourage some types of research. So, for example, US federal funds cannot be used to support many aspects of human stem cell research. “Self-censoring” by scientists can also have a negative effect on scientific progress. That is, some scientists may decide to avoid areas of research in which there are many regulatory requirements, political pressure, or in which there is substantial pressure from advocacy groups. A good example of this last type of self-censoring is the withdrawal of many scientists from research that involves certain animal models, like primates, because of animal rights activists.
Why Was This Study Done?
Some people think that political controversy might also encourage scientists to avoid some areas of scientific inquiry, but no studies have formally investigated this possibility. Could political arguments about the value of certain types of research influence the questions that scientists pursue? An argument of this sort occurred in the US in 2003 when Patrick Toomey, who was then a Republican Congressional Representative, argued that National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants supporting research into certain aspects of sexual behavior were “much less worthy of taxpayer funding” than research on “devastating diseases,” and proposed an amendment to the 2004 NIH appropriations bill (which regulates the research funded by NIH). The Amendment was rejected, but more than 200 NIH-funded grants, most of which examined behaviors that affect the spread of HIV/AIDS, were internally reviewed later that year; NIH defended each grant, so none were curtailed. In this study, Joanna Kempner investigates how the scientists whose US federal grants were targeted in this clash between politics and science responded to the political controversy.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Kempner interviewed 30 of the 162 principal investigators (PIs) whose grants were reviewed. She asked them to describe their research, the grants that were reviewed, and their experience with NIH before, during, and after the controversy. She also asked them whether this experience had changed their research practice. She then used the information from these interviews to design a survey that she sent to all the PIs whose grants had been reviewed; 82 responded. About half of the scientists interviewed and/or surveyed reported that they now remove “red flag” words (for example, “AIDS” and “homosexual”) from the titles and abstracts of their grant applications. About one-fourth of the respondents no longer included controversial topics (for example, “abortion” and “emergency contraception”) in their research agendas, and four researchers had made major career changes as a result of the controversy. Finally, about 10% of respondents said that their experience had strengthened their commitment to see their research completed and its results published although even many of these scientists also engaged in some self-censorship.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that, even though no funding was withdrawn, self-censoring is now common among the scientists whose grants were targeted during this particular political controversy. Because this study included researchers in only one area of health research, its findings may not be generalizable to other areas of research. Furthermore, because only half of the PIs involved in the controversy responded to the survey, these findings may be affected by selection bias. That is, the scientists most anxious about the effects of political controversy on their research funding (and thus more likely to engage in self-censorship) may not have responded. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that the political environment might have a powerful effect on self-censorship by scientists and might dissuade some scientists from embarking on research projects that they would otherwise have pursued. Further research into what Kempner calls the “chilling effect” of political controversy on scientific research is now needed to ensure that a healthy balance can be struck between political involvement in scientific decision making and scientific progress.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The Consortium of Social Science Associations, an advocacy organization that provides a bridge between the academic research community and Washington policymakers, has more information about the political controversy initiated by Patrick Toomey
Some of Kempner's previous research on self-censorship by scientists is described in a 2005 National Geographic news article
PMCID: PMC2586361  PMID: 19018657
3.  The Political Gender Gap: Gender Bias in Facial Inferences that Predict Voting Behavior 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(10):e3666.
Throughout human history, a disproportionate degree of political power around the world has been held by men. Even in democracies where the opportunity to serve in top political positions is available to any individual elected by the majority of their constituents, most of the highest political offices are occupied by male leaders. What psychological factors underlie this political gender gap? Contrary to the notion that people use deliberate, rational strategies when deciding whom to vote for in major political elections, research indicates that people use shallow decision heuristics, such as impressions of competence solely from a candidate's facial appearance, when deciding whom to vote for. Because gender has previously been shown to affect a number of inferences made from the face, here we investigated the hypothesis that gender of both voter and candidate affects the kinds of facial impressions that predict voting behavior.
Methodology/Principal Finding
Male and female voters judged a series of male and female political candidates on how competent, dominant, attractive and approachable they seemed based on their facial appearance. Then they saw a series of pairs of political candidates and decided which politician they would vote for in a hypothetical election for President of the United States. Results indicate that both gender of voter and candidate affect the kinds of facial impressions that predict voting behavior. All voters are likely to vote for candidates who appear more competent. However, male candidates that appear more approachable and female candidates who appear more attractive are more likely to win votes. In particular, men are more likely to vote for attractive female candidates whereas women are more likely to vote for approachable male candidates.
Here we reveal gender biases in the intuitive heuristics that voters use when deciding whom to vote for in major political elections. Our findings underscore the impact of gender and physical appearance on shaping voter decision-making and provide novel insight into the psychological foundations underlying the political gender gap.
PMCID: PMC2573960  PMID: 18974841
4.  "I'm all right, John": voting patterns and mortality in England and Wales, 1981-92. 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1996;313(7072):1573-1577.
OBJECTIVE: To investigate the association between voting patterns, deprivation, and mortality across England and Wales. DESIGN: Ecological study. SETTING: All the electoral constituencies of England and Wales. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Combined and sex specific standardised mortality ratios. RESULTS: For the years surrounding the three elections of 1983, 1987, and 1992 overall standardised mortality ratios showed substantial negative correlations of -0.74 to -0.76 with Conservative voting and substantial positive correlations of 0.73 to 0.77 with Labour voting (all P < 0.0001). Correlations were higher for male than female mortality. Conservative voting was strongly negatively correlated (r = -0.84) with the Townsend deprivation score, while Labour voting was positively correlated (r = 0.74) with this. Labour and Conservative voting explained more of the variance in mortality than did the Townsend score. In multiple regression analyses for the 1992 election Labour voting (P < 0.0001), Conservative voting (P < 0.0001), the Townsend score (P = 0.016), and abstentions (P = 0.032) were all associated with mortality. Labour and conservative voting explained 61% of the variance in mortality between constituencies; when Townsend score and abstentions were added this increased to 63%. CONCLUSIONS: Conservative and Labour voting are at least as strongly associated with mortality as is a standard deprivation index. Voting patterns may add information above that provided by indicators of material deprivation. People living in better circumstances and who have better health, who are least likely to require unemployment benefit and free school meals or to rely on a state pension in old age, and who are most able to opt out of state subsidised provision of transport, education, and the NHS, vote for the party that is most likely to dismantle the welfare state.
PMCID: PMC2359093  PMID: 8990989
5.  Strikes and the National Health Service: Some legal and ethical issues 
Journal of Medical Ethics  1977;3(2):76-82.
This paper is sadly opportune. The general public is angry and bewildered if not hurt by the variety of strikes which are brought more or less forcibly to their attention. People used to understand what lay behind a strike - a demand for more pay, better conditions - but today a political element often intrudes, and it is this that worries those who ask themselves whether this or that dispute is either lawful or morally acceptable.
Professor Dworkin, a lawyer, first sets out the legal issues surrounding strikes and then advances the ethical arguments, closely relating them to the legal framework. The most interesting part of the paper, however, may well be that devoted to the moral obligation of example, in particular the example to be set by members of the medical profession and by all those caring for the sick. As public attitudes to industrial disputes `become dulled and quiescent' it is absolutely necessary that there should be a reappraisal of the moral standards of the past which coincide with a respect for the law. In the last century the term `anomie' was used to describe a `society which has shaken off its former restraints such as religion, respect for law and order and a definite moral code as to what is right and wrong'. We are living in that sort of society today, and one need not be a professional `ethicist' to recognize the signs, and hopefully, to work for the return of `ethical' values.
PMCID: PMC1154558  PMID: 874982
6.  Voting behavior is reflected in amygdala response across cultures 
Voting to determine one’s leaders is among the most important decisions we make, yet little is known about the brain’s role in how we come to these decisions. Behavioral studies have indicated that snap judgments of political candidates’ faces can predict election outcomes but that the traits that lead to these judgments differ across cultures. Here we sought to investigate the neural basis for these judgments. American and Japanese natives performed simulated voting judgments of actual American and Japanese political candidates while neural activity was measured using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Candidates for whom participants chose to vote elicited stronger responses in the bilateral amygdala than candidates for whom participants chose not to vote. This was true regardless of either the participant’s culture or the target’s culture, suggesting that these voting decisions provoked the same neural response cross-culturally. In addition, we observed a participant culture by target culture interaction in the bilateral amygdala. American and Japanese participants both showed a stronger response to cultural outgroup faces than they did to cultural ingroup faces, however this was unrelated to their voting decisions. These data provide insight to the mechanisms that underlie our snap judgments of others when making voting decisions and provide a neural correlate to cross-cultural consensus in social inferences.
PMCID: PMC2894678  PMID: 19966327
culture; nonverbal behavior; face perception; politics; amygdala
7.  Voting at 16: Turnout and the quality of vote choice 
Electoral Studies  2012;31(2):372-383.
Critics of giving citizens under 18 the right to vote argue that such teenagers lack the ability and motivation to participate effectively in elections. If this argument is true, lowering the voting age would have negative consequences for the quality of democracy. We test the argument using survey data from Austria, the only European country with a voting age of 16 in nation-wide elections. While the turnout levels of young people under 18 are relatively low, their failure to vote cannot be explained by a lower ability or motivation to participate. In addition, the quality of these citizens' choices is similar to that of older voters, so they do cast votes in ways that enable their interests to be represented equally well. These results are encouraging for supporters of a lower voting age.
► Citizens under 18 may lack the motivation and ability to participate in elections. ► We examine the political motivation and ability and their impact on turnout and vote choice quality for citizens under 18. ► We use a survey from Austria, the only country with a voting age of 16. ► Their reasons for not voting are not based on a lack of political motivation and political ability. ► Their quality of vote choice is no lower than among older voter cohorts.
PMCID: PMC4020373  PMID: 24850994
Input legitimacy; Political participation; Teenage vote; Turnout; Voting age
8.  (The Ethics of) Teaching Science and Ethics: A Collaborative Proposal 
I offer a normative argument for a collaborative approach to teaching ethical issues in the sciences. Teaching science ethics requires expertise in at least two knowledge domains—the relevant science(s) and philosophical ethics. Accomplishing the aims of ethics education, while ensuring that science ethics discussions remain grounded in the best empirical science, can generally best be done through collaboration between a scientist and an ethicist. Ethics as a discipline is in danger of being misrepresented or distorted if presented by someone who lacks appropriate disciplinary training and experience. While there are exceptions, I take philosophy to be the most appropriate disciplinary domain in which to gain training in ethics teaching. Science students, who must be prepared to engage with many science ethics issues, are poorly served if their education includes a misrepresentation of ethics or specific issues. Students are less well prepared to engage specific issues in science ethics if they lack an appreciation of the resources the discipline of ethics provides. My collaborative proposal looks at a variety of ways scientists and ethicists might collaborate in the classroom to foster good science ethics education.
PMCID: PMC4278462  PMID: 25574263
9.  Saving lives in road traffic—ethical aspects 
This article aims at giving an overview of five ethical problem areas relating to traffic safety, thereby providing a general framework for analysing traffic safety from an ethical perspective and encouraging further discussion concerning problems, policies and technology in this area.
Subjects and methods
The problems presented in the article are criminalisation, paternalism, privacy, justice and responsibility, and the reasons for choosing these are the following. First, they are all important areas in moral philosophy. Second, they are fairly general and it should be possible to categorise more specific problems under these headings. Ethical aspects of road traffic have not received the philosophical attention they deserve. Every year, more than 1 million people die globally in traffic accidents, and 20 to 50 million people are injured. Ninety per cent of the road traffic fatalities occur in low- and middle-income countries, where it is a growing problem. Politics, economics, culture and technology affect the number of fatalities and injuries, and the measures used to combat deaths in traffic as well as the role of road traffic should be ethically scrutinised. The topics are analysed and discussed from a moral-philosophical perspective, and the discussion includes both theory and applications.
Results and conclusion
The author concludes with some thoughts on how the ethical discussion can be included in the public debate on how to save lives in road traffic. People in industrialised societies are so used to road traffic that it is almost seen as part of nature. Consequently, we do not acknowledge that we can introduce change and that we can affect the role we have given road traffic and cars. By acknowledging the ethical aspects of road traffic and illuminating the way the choices society makes are ethically charged, it becomes clear that there are alternative ways to design the road traffic system. The most important general conclusion is that discussion concerning these alternative ways of designing the system should be encouraged.
PMCID: PMC2967260  PMID: 21088693
Traffic safety; Ethics; Criminalisation; Paternalism; Privacy; Risk; Justice; Responsibility
10.  Ethics in scientific communication: study of a problem case. 
Journal of Medical Ethics  1994;20(4):207-211.
The hypothermia experiments performed on humans during the Second World War at the German concentration camp in Dachau have been regarded as crimes against humanity, disguised as medical research. For almost 50 years, scientists maintained that the study produced valuable, even if not totally reliable, information. In recent years, the results from the Dachau hypothermia project were glamorized with life-saving potential and a heated ethical dialogue was activated about the use of life-saving but tainted scientific information. In the wake of the debate, an in-depth examination of the scientific rigour of the project was performed and revealed that neither the science nor the scientists from Dachau could be trusted and that the data were worthless. The body of medical opinion accepted the unfavourable determination but a few scientists and ethicists have continued to endorse the validity, of at least parts, of the Dachau hypothermia data. The conduct of the scientific communications about the Dachau hypothermia experiments by the scientific and ethical communities invites serious consideration of a possible ethical misadventure. It appears that for almost 50 years, the results of the study had been endorsed without careful examination of the scientific base of the experiments and that secondary citation of relevant original material may have been commonly employed. These infractions contributed to a myth that good science was practised by the Nazis at Dachau. The more recent emphasis on the life-saving potential of the Dachau data, without citation of credible supporting evidence, has also been misleading. Similarly, acceptance of a determination by an in-depth examination that the 'whole' Dachau project if flawed with simultaneous endorsement of the validity of 'parts' of the results, poses an ethical problem. It is advisable that before seeking ethical consultation about the use of unethically obtained data, scientists should examine the quality of science behind the controversial information and ethicists should verify the integrity of the material prior to engaging in a dialogue.
PMCID: PMC1376556  PMID: 7861424
11.  Creating the ‘ethics industry': Mary Warnock, in vitro fertilization and the history of bioethics in Britain 
Biosocieties  2010;6(2):121-141.
Recent decades have seen a shift in the management and discussion of biomedicine. Issues once considered by doctors and scientists are now handled by a diverse array of participants, including philosophers, lawyers, theologians and lay representatives. This new approach, known as ‘bioethics', has become the norm in regulatory committees and public debate. In this article, I argue that bioethics emerged as a valued enterprise in Britain during the 1980s because it fulfilled, and linked, the concerns of several groups. My analysis centres on the moral philosopher Mary Warnock, who chaired a government inquiry into human fertilization and embryology between 1982 and 1984, and became a strong advocate of bioethics. I detail how Warnock's promotion of bioethics tallied with the Conservative government's desire for increased surveillance of hitherto autonomous professions – while fulfilling her own belief that philosophers should engage in public affairs. And I also show that Warnock simultaneously promoted bioethics to doctors and scientists as an essential safeguard against declining political and public trust. This stance, I argue, framed bioethics as a vital intermediary between politics, the public, and biomedicine, and explains the growth and endurance of what the Guardian identified as an ethics industry.
PMCID: PMC3342788  PMID: 22563348
bioethics; Mary Warnock; in vitro fertilization; public accountability; oversight; history
12.  Creating the ‘ethics industry': Mary Warnock, in vitro fertilization and the history of bioethics in Britain 
Biosocieties  2010;6(2):121-141.
Recent decades have seen a shift in the management and discussion of biomedicine. Issues once considered by doctors and scientists are now handled by a diverse array of participants, including philosophers, lawyers, theologians and lay representatives. This new approach, known as ‘bioethics', has become the norm in regulatory committees and public debate. In this article, I argue that bioethics emerged as a valued enterprise in Britain during the 1980s because it fulfilled, and linked, the concerns of several groups. My analysis centres on the moral philosopher Mary Warnock, who chaired a government inquiry into human fertilization and embryology between 1982 and 1984, and became a strong advocate of bioethics. I detail how Warnock's promotion of bioethics tallied with the Conservative government's desire for increased surveillance of hitherto autonomous professions – while fulfilling her own belief that philosophers should engage in public affairs. And I also show that Warnock simultaneously promoted bioethics to doctors and scientists as an essential safeguard against declining political and public trust. This stance, I argue, framed bioethics as a vital intermediary between politics, the public, and biomedicine, and explains the growth and endurance of what the Guardian identified as an ethics industry.
PMCID: PMC3342788  PMID: 22563348
bioethics; Mary Warnock; in vitro fertilization; public accountability; oversight; history
13.  Voting patterns and alliance formation in the European Parliament 
Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have voluntarily formed transnational political groups and invariably follow the voting instructions of these groups. This is intriguing as there are few obvious incentives for doing so. Unlike national parties, for example, the political groups in the European Parliament are not punished by the electorate if they are divided on key issues, as citizens know very little about what goes on inside the European Parliament. This paper pieces together an explanation of why the European political groups exist and why they have become so powerful by looking at the determinants of group cohesion and by undertaking a spatial analysis of voting in the European Parliament. MEPs who share preferences on a range of issues on the European Union policy agenda have an incentive to establish a division-of-labour contract and to share the costs of collecting information. Once internal party policy specialization and agenda setting has been established, MEPs have incentives to follow the voting instructions of their group owing to the advantages of cohesion in a context of repeated voting.
PMCID: PMC2689714  PMID: 19073477
roll-call voting; coalition formation; legislative behaviour; political parties; European Parliament
14.  Human-animal chimeras for vaccine development: an endangered species or opportunity for the developing world? 
In recent years, the field of vaccines for diseases such as Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) which take a heavy toll in developing countries has faced major failures. This has led to a call for more basic science research, and development as well as evaluation of new vaccine candidates. Human-animal chimeras, developed with a 'humanized' immune system could be useful to study infectious diseases, including many neglected diseases. These would also serve as an important tool for the efficient testing of new vaccine candidates to streamline promising candidates for further trials in humans. However, developing human-animal chimeras has proved to be controversial.
Development of human-animal chimeras for vaccine development has been slowed down because of opposition by some philosophers, ethicists and policy makers in the west-they question the moral status of such animals, and also express discomfort about transgression of species barriers. Such opposition often uses a contemporary western world view as a reference point. Human-animal chimeras are often being created for diseases which cause significantly higher morbidity and mortality in the developing world as compared to the developed world. We argue in our commentary that given this high disease burden, we should look at socio-cultural perspectives on human-animal chimera like beings in the developing world. On examination, it's clear that such beings have been part of mythology and cultural descriptions in many countries in the developing world.
To ensure that important research on diseases afflicting millions like malaria, HIV, Hepatitis-C and dengue continues to progress, we recommend supporting human-animal chimera research for vaccine development in developing countries (especially China and India which have growing technical expertise in the area). The negative perceptions in some parts of the west about human-animal chimeras can be used as an opportunity for nurturing important vaccine development research in the developing world.
PMCID: PMC2890684  PMID: 20482820
15.  Corporate Social Responsibility and Access to Policy Élites: An Analysis of Tobacco Industry Documents 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(8):e1001076.
Gary Fooks and colleagues undertook a review of tobacco industry documents and show that policies on corporate social responsibility can enable access to and dialogue with policymakers at the highest level.
Recent attempts by large tobacco companies to represent themselves as socially responsible have been widely dismissed as image management. Existing research supports such claims by pointing to the failings and misleading nature of corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives. However, few studies have focused in depth on what tobacco companies hoped to achieve through CSR or reflected on the extent to which these ambitions have been realised.
Methods and Findings
Iterative searching relating to CSR strategies was undertaken of internal British American Tobacco (BAT) documents, released through litigation in the US. Relevant documents (764) were indexed and qualitatively analysed. In the past decade, BAT has actively developed a wide-ranging CSR programme. Company documents indicate that one of the key aims of this programme was to help the company secure access to policymakers and, thereby, increase the company's chances of influencing policy decisions. Taking the UK as a case study, this paper demonstrates the way in which CSR can be used to renew and maintain dialogue with policymakers, even in ostensibly unreceptive political contexts. In practice, the impact of this political use of CSR is likely to be context specific; depending on factors such as policy élites' understanding of the credibility of companies as a reliable source of information.
The findings suggest that tobacco company CSR strategies can enable access to and dialogue with policymakers and provide opportunities for issue definition. CSR should therefore be seen as a form of corporate political activity. This underlines the need for broad implementation of Article 5.3 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Measures are needed to ensure transparency of interactions between all parts of government and the tobacco industry and for policy makers to be made more aware of what companies hope to achieve through CSR.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
In the past, companies and multinational corporations were judged on the profits they made. Nowadays, though, much is made of corporate social responsibility (CSR). CSR is the commitment by business to behave ethically and to contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce, their families, the local community, and society at large. Put simply, companies and corporations now endeavor to show that they have a positive impact on the environment, consumers, employees, and society in addition to making money for their shareholders. Large tobacco companies are no exception. British American Tobacco (BAT, the world's second largest publicly traded tobacco company), for example, began working on a wide-ranging CSR program more than a decade ago. Given that tobacco is responsible for an estimated 5.4 million deaths worldwide annually, this program was initially met with hostility and dismissed as an image management exercise. However, large parts of the investment and CSR communities now approve of BAT's CSR program, which has won numerous awards.
Why Was This Study Done?
But what do BAT and other tobacco companies actually hope to achieve through their CSR initiatives and how successful have they been in achieving these aims? Few studies have addressed these important questions. In particular, there has been little research into the extent to which tobacco companies use CSR initiatives as a form of corporate political activity that can help them gain “access” to policymakers and define the legitimate concerns and optimal alternatives of public policy (“issue definition”). Access is defined as taking place when policymakers consider the views of policy advocates such as tobacco company employees and is a crucial component of issue definition, which refers to the strategies adopted by bodies such as multinational corporations to influence the policy agenda by defining what issues public policy should concern itself with and how it should approach them. In this case study, the researchers explore whether BAT's CSR program works as a form of corporate political activity by systematically examining internal BAT documents made publicly available as a result of US litigation. Specifically, the researchers examine BAT's efforts through its CSR program to reestablish access with the UK Department of Health following the department's decision in the late 1990s to restrict contact with major tobacco companies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Using iterative searching, the researchers identified 764 documents in the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library (a large collection of internal tobacco company documents released as a result of US litigation cases) that contain information relevant to BAT's CSR strategies. Their analysis of these documents indicates that one of the key aims of the CSR program actively developed over the past decade by BAT was to help secure access to policymakers and shows how BAT used CSR to renew and maintain dialogue with policymakers at a time when contact between government and tobacco companies was extremely restricted. The documents also show that BAT employees used CSR initiatives as a means of issue definition to both optimize the probability of subsequent discussions taking place and to frame their content. Finally, the documents illustrate how BAT used its CSR program to expand the number of access points across government, thereby providing BAT with more opportunities to meet and talk to officials.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that CSR is a form of corporate political activity that potentially has important implications for public health given the documented impact of the political activity of tobacco companies in delaying and blocking health-related tobacco control policies. In practice, the impact of the political use of CSR is likely to be context specific and will depend on factors such as whether senior policymakers regard companies as reliable sources of information. Importantly, these findings underline the need for broad implementation of Article 5.3 of the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), an international treaty that calls for the introduction of multiple measures to reduce tobacco consumption, including tobacco advertizing bans and relevant taxation policies. Article 5.3 aims to protect public-health policies on tobacco control from tobacco industry influence. The findings of this study indicate that implementation of Article 5.3 will require measures that ensure transparency in interactions between all parts of government and the tobacco industry and will need an increased awareness across government of what tobacco companies hope to achieve through CSR.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The Corporate Responsibility (CORE) coalition, an alliance of voluntary organizations, trade unions, and companies, maintains a Web site that contains useful material on corporate social responsibility
The European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ) promotes corporate accountability by bringing together national platforms of civil society organizations (including NGOs, trade unions, consumer advocacy groups, and academic institutions) from all over Europe
The Legacy Tobacco Documents Library is a public, searchable database of tobacco company internal documents detailing their advertising, manufacturing, marketing, sales, and scientific activities
The World Health Organization provides information about the dangers of tobacco (in several languages), details of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (in several languages), and guidelines for the implementation of Article 5.3 of the FCTC
The Framework Convention Alliance provides more information about the FCTC
For information about tobacco industry influence on policy, see the 2009 World Health Organization report Tobacco interference with tobacco control
PMCID: PMC3160341  PMID: 21886485
16.  Experimentation with human subjects: a critique of the views of Hans Jonas. 
Journal of Medical Ethics  1983;9(2):76-79.
The ethics of experimentation on human subjects has become the subject of much debate among medical scientists and philosophers. Ethical problems and conflicts of interest become especially serious when research subjects are recruited from the class of patients. Are patients who are ill and suffering in a position to give voluntary and informed consent? Are there inevitable conflicts of interest and moral obligation when a personal physician recruits his own patients for an experiment designed partly to advance scientific knowledge and only partly as therapy for those patients? The views of the eminent American ethicist Hans Jonas on these issues are briefly summarised and criticised, and some moral guidelines are then proposed to regulate experimentation on human subjects.
PMCID: PMC1059345  PMID: 6876101
17.  Normative Ethics Does Not Need a Foundation: It Needs More Science 
Acta Biotheoretica  2010;59(1):29-51.
The impact of science on ethics forms since long the subject of intense debate. Although there is a growing consensus that science can describe morality and explain its evolutionary origins, there is less consensus about the ability of science to provide input to the normative domain of ethics. Whereas defenders of a scientific normative ethics appeal to naturalism, its critics either see the naturalistic fallacy committed or argue that the relevance of science to normative ethics remains undemonstrated. In this paper, we argue that current scientific normative ethicists commit no fallacy, that criticisms of scientific ethics contradict each other, and that scientific insights are relevant to normative inquiries by informing ethics about the options open to the ethical debate. Moreover, when conceiving normative ethics as being a nonfoundational ethics, science can be used to evaluate every possible norm. This stands in contrast to foundational ethics in which some norms remain beyond scientific inquiry. Finally, we state that a difference in conception of normative ethics underlies the disagreement between proponents and opponents of a scientific ethics. Our argument is based on and preceded by a reconsideration of the notions naturalistic fallacy and foundational ethics. This argument differs from previous work in scientific ethics: whereas before the philosophical project of naturalizing the normative has been stressed, here we focus on concrete consequences of biological findings for normative decisions or on the day-to-day normative relevance of these scientific insights.
PMCID: PMC3068523  PMID: 20407803
Science and ethics; Naturalistic ethics; Normative ethics; Naturalistic fallacy
18.  Voting for a personality: Do first impressions and self-evaluations affect voting decisions? 
•People rated themselves and video clips of politicians on personality.•People gave an estimate of the probability that they would vote for the politicians.•Ratings of some personality traits were strongly related to voting behavior.•For the preferred personality traits people gave themselves higher ratings.•People’s voting decisions may be guided by traits they value high in themselves.
Participants were asked to assess their own personality (i.e. Big Five scales), the personality of politicians shown in brief silent video clips, and the probability that they would vote for these politicians. Response surface analyses (RSA) revealed noteworthy effects of self-ratings and observer-ratings of openness, agreeableness, and emotional stability on voting probability. Furthermore, the participants perceived themselves as being more open, more agreeable, more emotionally stable, and more extraverted than the average politician. The study supports previous findings that first impressions affect decision making on important issues. Results also indicate that when only nonverbal information is available people prefer political candidates they perceive as having personality traits they value in themselves.
PMCID: PMC4110983  PMID: 25089064
Social judgments; Person perception; Similarity; Politics; Response surface analyses
19.  The Familiar Foundation and the Fuller Sense: Ethics Consultation and Narrative 
The Permanente Journal  2012;16(2):60-63.
As clinical ethicists and ethics committee members, we strive to create the ideal situation for moral conversation and ethical reflection. Using both the familiar foundation and the fuller sense, the ethicist and ethics committee are aided in participating more fruitfully in a process of resolution. The familiar foundation represents a body of knowledge that ethics consultants and ethics committees should thoroughly understand. In addition, there is a depth of analysis found in the fuller sense, through narrative, that sharpens ethical focus and enables richer understanding of the patient's situation in life.
In using both tools, patients and families are better served than they would be relying on either tool by itself. Stakeholders and their relationships become more clearly assessed and individuals more effectively discover their own legitimate position. This can mean a more thorough representation of moral problems, a deeper understanding of all parties involved, and a greater opportunity to help parties better understand themselves and each other.
PMCID: PMC3383166  PMID: 22745620
20.  Communities and Hospitals: Social Capital, Community Accountability, and Service Provision in U.S. Community Hospitals 
Health Services Research  2004;39(5):1487-1508.
The study related community social capital to the level of community accountability and provision of community-oriented services in U.S. community hospitals.
Study Setting
The sample included 1,383 community hospitals that participated in the 1997 American Hospital Association's (AHA) Hospital Annual and Governance Surveys.
Data Sources
(1) The 1997 AHA Annual Hospital Survey, (2) the 1997 AHA Hospital Governance Survey, (3) the DDB Needham Market Facts Survey, (4) the 1996 County Election Data File, and (5) the 1998 Area Resource File.
Research Design
The study used a mix of longitudinal and cross-sectional data.
Key Findings
We identified two distinct indicators of social capital—community participation and voting participation. Community accountability in hospitals was unrelated to either indicator. Hospitals' provision of community-oriented health services was negatively associated with community participation but unrelated with voting participation. The interaction between voting participation and community representation on hospital governance was positively associated with community accountability and provision of community-oriented health services.
Neither community participation nor voting participation was sufficient to influence hospital behavior. The positive finding associated with the interaction between voting participation and community representation on hospital governance underscored the importance of an active political culture in influencing hospital behavior, without which the installation of community representatives on hospital governance might be more symbolic than actually serving the health concerns of community residents.
PMCID: PMC1361080  PMID: 15333119
Community accountability; hospitals; social capital; hospital services
21.  Justice Blocks and Predictability of U.S. Supreme Court Votes 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e27188.
Successful attempts to predict judges' votes shed light into how legal decisions are made and, ultimately, into the behavior and evolution of the judiciary. Here, we investigate to what extent it is possible to make predictions of a justice's vote based on the other justices' votes in the same case. For our predictions, we use models and methods that have been developed to uncover hidden associations between actors in complex social networks. We show that these methods are more accurate at predicting justice's votes than forecasts made by legal experts and by algorithms that take into consideration the content of the cases. We argue that, within our framework, high predictability is a quantitative proxy for stable justice (and case) blocks, which probably reflect stable a priori attitudes toward the law. We find that U.S. Supreme Court justice votes are more predictable than one would expect from an ideal court composed of perfectly independent justices. Deviations from ideal behavior are most apparent in divided 5–4 decisions, where justice blocks seem to be most stable. Moreover, we find evidence that justice predictability decreased during the 50-year period spanning from the Warren Court to the Rehnquist Court, and that aggregate court predictability has been significantly lower during Democratic presidencies. More broadly, our results show that it is possible to use methods developed for the analysis of complex social networks to quantitatively investigate historical questions related to political decision-making.
PMCID: PMC3212541  PMID: 22096533
22.  Minding the gap between logic and intuition: an interpretative approach to ethical analysis 
Journal of Medical Ethics  2007;33(7):386-389.
In an attempt to be rational and objective, and, possibly, to avoid the charge of moral relativism, ethicists seek to categorise and characterise ethical dilemmas. This approach is intended to minimise the effect of the confusing individuality of the context within which ethically challenging problems exist. Despite and I argue partly as a result of this attempt to be rational and objective, even when the logic of the argument is accepted—for example, by healthcare professionals—those same professionals might well respond by stating that the conclusions are unacceptable to them. In this paper, I argue that an interpretative approach to ethical analysis, involving an examination of the ways in which ethical arguments are constructed and shared, can help ethicists to understand the origins of this gap between logic and intuition. I suggest that an argument will be persuasive either if the values underpinning the proposed argument accord with the reader's values and worldview, or if the argument succeeds in persuading the reader to alter these. A failure either to appreciate or to acknowledge those things that give meaning to the lives of all the interested parties will make this objective far harder, if not impossible, to achieve. If, as a consequence, the narratives ethicists use to make their arguments seem to be about people living in different circumstances, and faced with different choices and challenges, from those the readers or listeners consider important or have to face in their own lives, then the argument is unlikely to seem either relevant or applicable to those people. The conclusion offered by the ethicist will be, for that individual, counterintuitive. Abortion, euthanasia and cadaveric organ donation are used as examples to support my argument.
PMCID: PMC2598133  PMID: 17601864
23.  Client Participation in Moral Case Deliberation: A Precarious Relational Balance 
Hec Forum  2011;23(3):207-224.
Moral case deliberation (MCD) is a form of clinical ethics support in which the ethicist as facilitator aims at supporting professionals with a structured moral inquiry into their moral issues from practice. Cases often affect clients, however, their inclusion in MCD is not common. Client participation often raises questions concerning conditions for equal collaboration and good dialogue. Despite these questions, there is little empirical research regarding client participation in clinical ethics support in general and in MCD in particular. This article aims at describing the experiences and processes of two MCD groups with client participation in a mental healthcare institution. A responsive evaluation was conducted examining stakeholders’ issues concerning client participation. Findings demonstrate that participation initially creates uneasiness. As routine builds up and client participants meet certain criteria, both clients and professionals start thinking beyond ‘us-them’ distinctions, and become more equal partners in dialogue. Still, sentiments of distrust and feelings of not being safe may reoccur. Client participation in MCD thus requires continuous reflection and alertness on relational dynamics and the quality of and conditions for dialogue. Participation puts the essentials of MCD (i.e., dialogue) to the test. Yet, the methodology and features of MCD offer an appropriate platform to introduce client participation in healthcare institutions.
PMCID: PMC3178761  PMID: 21792683
Moral case deliberation; Client participation; Dialogue; Inclusion; Organization
24.  Voting Systems for Environmental Decisions 
Conservation Biology  2014;28(2):322-332.
Voting systems aggregate preferences efficiently and are often used for deciding conservation priorities. Desirable characteristics of voting systems include transitivity, completeness, and Pareto optimality, among others. Voting systems that are common and potentially useful for environmental decision making include simple majority, approval, and preferential voting. Unfortunately, no voting system can guarantee an outcome, while also satisfying a range of very reasonable performance criteria. Furthermore, voting methods may be manipulated by decision makers and strategic voters if they have knowledge of the voting patterns and alliances of others in the voting populations. The difficult properties of voting systems arise in routine decision making when there are multiple criteria and management alternatives. Because each method has flaws, we do not endorse one method. Instead, we urge organizers to be transparent about the properties of proposed voting systems and to offer participants the opportunity to approve the voting system as part of the ground rules for operation of a group.
Sistemas de Votación para Decisiones Ambientales
Los sistemas de votación agregan preferencias eficientemente y muy seguido se usan para decidir prioridades de conservación. Las características deseables de un sistema de votación incluyen la transitividad, lo completo que sean y la optimalidad de Pareto, entre otras. Los sistemas de votación que son comunes y potencialmente útiles para la toma de decisiones ambientales incluyen simple mayoría, aprobación y votación preferencial. Desafortunadamente, ningún sistema de votación puede garantizar un resultado y a la vez satisfacer un rango de criterios de desempeño muy razonable. Además, los métodos de votación pueden manipularse por los que toman las decisiones y votantes estratégicos si tienen el conocimiento de los patrones de votación y de las alianzas entre miembros dentro de las poblaciones votantes. Las propiedades difíciles de los sistemas de votación sobresalen en las tomas de decisiones rutinarias cuando hay criterios múltiples y alternativas de manejo. Ya que ambos métodos tienen fallas, no apoyamos a uno sobre el otro. En lugar de esto le pedimos urgentemente a los organizadores ser transparentes con respecto a las propiedades de los sistemas de votación y ofrecer a los participantes la oportunidad de aprobar el sistema de votación como parte de las reglas básicas para la operación de un grupo.
PMCID: PMC4265892  PMID: 24423154
Arrow’s theorem; decision theory; philosophy; preferences; Filosofía; preferencias; teorema de Arrow; teoría de decisión
25.  The future of philosophy. 
There is no sharp dividing line between science and philosophy, but philosophical problems tend to have three special features. First, they tend to concern large frameworks rather than specific questions within the framework. Second, they are questions for which there is no generally accepted method of solution. And third they tend to involve conceptual issues. For these reasons a philosophical problem such as the nature of life can become a scientific problem if it is put into a shape where it admits of scientific resolution. Philosophy in the 20th century was characterized by a concern with logic and language, which is markedly different from the concerns of earlier centuries of philosophy. However, it shared with the European philosophical tradition since the 17th century an excessive concern with issues in the theory of knowledge and with scepticism. As the century ends, we can see that scepticism no longer occupies centre stage, and this enables us to have a more constructive approach to philosophical problems than was possible for earlier generations. This situation is somewhat analogous to the shift from the sceptical concerns of Socrates and Plato to the constructive philosophical enterprise of Aristotle. With that in mind, we can discuss the prospects for the following six philosophical areas: (1) the traditional mind-body problem; (ii) the philosophy of mind and cognitive science; (iii) the philosophy of language; (iv) the philosophy of society; (v) ethics and practical reasons; (vi) the philosophy of science. The general theme of these investigations, I believe, is that the appraisal of the true significance of issues in the philosophy of knowledge enables us to have a more constructive account of various other philosophical problems than has typically been possible for the past three centuries.
PMCID: PMC1692709  PMID: 10670025

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