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The Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions is involved in a number of research projects that focus on Center’s mission of educating students as responsible professionals, reflecting on the wider implications of scientific progress, and contributing to the shaping of technology in accordance with fundamental human values. Here, you can see a summary of some of our active research projects. You can also read more by visiting our past projects page, which has a history of major projects and events held at the Center.

Neuroethics- On the Interplay Between Neuroscience and Ethics

Funded by the Swiss Cogito Foundation, this two-year project begun in August 2015 seeks to understand the ways in which the brain and behavioral sciences might provide insight into moral and philosophical questions. It is intended to be an interdisciplinary meditation on how we can simultaneously ground philosophical thought in empirical science, and extend scientific findings to their greatest philosophical implications. Rather than directly studying the neural correlates of moral and philosophical judgments, the project aims to develop a theoretical of the scope and limits of such studies. Questions central to the project include:

  • How do neuroscientific insights into moral and immoral behavior relate to the actual status of those behaviors as moral or immoral?
  • What can studying the way people happen to formulate moral and philosophical judgments teach us about the accuracy of those judgments?
  • In what ways have previous researchers exaggerated, overgeneralized, or misinterpreted descriptive findings in neuroscience to suit their normative ethical recommendations?
A workshop was held on this topic in April of 2016.

This project is spearheaded by Geoff Holtzman and Elisabeth Hildt

Ethics Code Collection Redesign

The Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions (CSEP) received a $200,000 grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in January 2016 to enhance its highly regarded Ethics Code Collection (ECC). The ECC is a unique resource, comprising a curated collection of over 4,000 ethics codes and guidelines across a range of disciplines for over 40 years. With this generous funding from the MacArthur Foundation, it will serve as a more dynamic global resource for informing ethical decision making in professional, entrepreneurial, scientific, and technological fields, and inform critical research into the advancement of ethical practices in a rapidly changing world. Funding from the MacArthur Foundation will provide the resources to embark on an extensive design strategy to improve the digital ECC, and will include tools such as better keyword search, sorting capabilities, comparisons, and downloading in different formats. Funding will also enable new research on the current and future roles of ethics codes within society, business, and technological innovation.

Ethics Education Library

This joint project with the National Academy of Engineering's Center for Engineer, Ethics and Society is a collection of resources for scholars and university administrators interested in developing ethics training and instruction programs for undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students. Funded by the National Science Foundation for five years, the Ethics Education Library, along with the Online Ethics Center, will help educators, researchers, administrators, undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and practicing scientists and engineers understand the scope of existing knowledge about both ethics and ethics education in science, mathematics, and engineering. One of the intents of this resource center is to help scholars and institutions meet NSF's implementation of Section 7009 of the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science (America COMPETES) Act by providing easy access to high quality case studies, best practices, and original scholarship in ethics in all of the fields that NSF supports.