Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The "Geoethical Promise"

The members of the Italian Commission on Geoethics of the Italian Federation of Earth Sciences have published an interesting article on Episodes (the Journal of the IUGS - International Union of Geological Sciences):

Matteucci R., Gosso G., Peppoloni S., Piacente S., Wasowski J. (2014). The Geoethical Promise: A Proposal. Episodes, vol. 37, n. 3, pp. 190-191:

These colleagues (among them, the IAPG Secretary General, Silvia Peppoloni) have proposed a Hippocratic-like oath for geoscientists: the geoethical promise. Here the formula:

The Geoethical Promise

I promise I will practice geosciences being fully aware of the involved social implications, and I will do my best for the protection of geosphere for the benefit of mankind.

I know my responsibilities towards society, future generations and the Earth for a sustainable development.

In my job I will put the interest of society at large in the first place.

I will never misuse my geological knowledge, not even under constraint.

I will always be ready to provide my professional assistance when needed; I will always make my expertise available to decision makers.

I will continue to improve my geological knowledge lifelong and I will always maintain my intellectual honesty at work, being aware of the limits of my capabilities and possibilities.

I will act to foster progress in geosciences, the dissemination of geological knowledge and the spreading of the geoethical approach to the management of land and geological resources.

I will honor my promise that in my work as a geoscientist or certified geologist will be fully respectful of Earth processes.

I promise

The authors "think that a geoethical approach to the geosphere-society relationship is necessary in the epoch in which we live. Geoscientists have to improve their awareness of the geoethical dimension and the importance for sustainable development of their work in geosciences. The introduction of a Hippocratic-like oath for young geoscientists - "the geoethical promise" - could be a way for this purpose. A draft text is proposed for discussion".

The IAPG is starting to collect proposal for changes, suggestions, improvements and ideas about the formula.

If you like to participate in the discussion, we will be grateful to receive your comments with an email to:

Thank you.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Navigating the ethical domains of a professional applied geoscientist

by Vincent S. Cronin
(Geology Department, Baylor University; IAPG-USA co-responsible)

A talk for the Texas Section of the 
Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists

4 October 2014 
Fort Worth (Texas, USA)

An applied geoscientist works in a complex environment involving science, business, interpersonal relationships and professional obligations.
Virtually all professional geoscientists are trained as geoscientists rather than as moral philosophers. Yet the imperative to act as a positive moral agent is recognized throughout the geosciences, in our professional organizations, and in laws that provide for the licensure of geoscientists.
As a community, we must engage in the development of a practical understanding of ethics applied to the professional practice of geoscience.
One distinguished engineering geologist stated that the key to ethical practice is simple: just do a good job. 
While it is clearly imperative to "do a good job," applied ethics cannot be reduced to one or a few memorable aphorisms. 
As a practical matter, we need to know about techniques that can be used when we are confronted with an ethical dilemma, in which two or more "goods" are in conflict with one another. 
How should we act when confronted with unethical behavior by a colleague, by a company, by your boss, by a client?
What can modern moral philosophers teach us about making moral decisions?
In a recent questionnaire, ASBOG identified 13 ethical issues they believe constitute potential problems for licensed geoscientists, ranging from "conflict of interest" to "retaliation against whistle-blowers." Some issues are related to the conduct of science, while others concerned such matters as the ethical conduct of scientific research, adherence to laws, client interactions, and business practices.
Ethical codes promulgated by geoscience societies can provide additional insights about ethical problems that have arisen in the past.
We will review some basic information gleaned from relevant work by moral philosophers, explore some ethical issues associated with the life of a professional geoscientist, learn about some intellectual tools for meeting ethical challenges, and share some of our own experiences in which we encountered (what we perceived to be) ethically questionable practices, behaviors or actions.