Codes are multiplying. Professor Sir David King, the British government's chief scientific advisor, set out a universal ethical code for scientists:
- Act with skill and care, keep skills up to date
- Prevent corrupt practice and declare conflicts of interest
- Respect and acknowledge the work of other scientists
- Ensure that research is justified and lawful
- Minimise impacts on people, animals and the environment
- Discuss issues science raises for society
- Do not mislead; present evidence honestly
King believes if every scientist followed the code, we would improve the quality of science and remove many of the concerns society has about research.
Hot on the heels of that, Chris sent me a link to biosecuritycodes.org, which has more codes than you can shake a stick at. Helpfully, the site also provides the following "code of codes":
- Aspirational (codes of ethics) set out ideals that practitioners should uphold
- Advisory (codes of conduct) go further than Aspirational codes by tying actions to guidelines which suggest how to act appropriately
- Enforceable (codes of practice) seek to further codify what is acceptable practice. Rather than attempting to sway or guide behavior, enforceable codes are embedded within wider systems of professional and legal regulations
- Source: Rappert, Brian (2004), Towards a Life Sciences Code: Countering the Threat from Biological Weapons, Bradford Briefing Papers, University of Bradford Department of Peace Studies.
So my question to you is this. The more codes we have to regulate our behavior, are we more or less likely to misbehave?