Ethics Resources from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)


This is a collection of resources on ethics and human rights in science assembled by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The list spans resources published from 1975 to 2015.


Documents on Ethics in Science

Scientific Freedom and Responsibility, A Report of the ad hoc AAAS Committee on Scientific  Freedom and Responsibility 1975.
A report by an  ad hoc AAAS Committee on Scientific Freedom and Responsibility  that asserts that “scientific freedom and responsibility are basically inseparable,” and that “The responsibilities are primary; scientists can claim no special rights,…except those necessary to fulfill the responsibilities that arise from the possession of special knowledge and of the insight arising from that knowledge.”

Human Inheritable Genetic Modifications: Assessing Scientific, Ethical, Religious, and Policy Issues 2000.
This report is a product of a two-and-a-half-year project to assess the scientific, ethical, religious, and policy issues associated with interventions that would change the genetic inheritance of future generations. To carry out the study, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) convened a working group of scientists, ethicists, theologians, and policy analysts to assist in developing recommendations.  

AAAS Statement on President Bush’s Stem Cell Policy. 2001. 

Regulating Human Cloning. AAAS Workshop Report. 2003.
A report on a one-day invitational workshop on the regulatory issues associated with human cloning held in March 2003.  The workshop was intended to promote informed discussion encompassing both legal and scientific perspectives.

Neuroscience and the Law: Brain, Mind and the Scales of Justice. 2004.
By Brent Garland. A summary report on an invitational meeting to examine the legal implications of emerging research on the brain.  The full report of the meeting is available in bookstores and online retailers. . 

Good, Better, Best: The Human Quest for Enhancement. 2006. 
Summary Report of an Invitational Workshop to examine the ethical and policy implications of human enhancement in various endeavors, e.g., sports, military, etc.

Advocacy in Science. AAAS Workshop Report. 2011.
This report is a summary of the views and suggestions expressed by attendees at the workshop on “Advocacy in Science,” held in Washington, DC on October 17-18, 2011. It examines both the promise and perils of scientists engaging in policy advocacy.

Documents on Human Rights

Scientists and Human Rights. Leonard Rubenstein, Mona Younis. Science. 2008.
A Science Magazine Editorial. 

AAAS Board Statement On the Human Right to the Benefits of Scientific Progress. 2010.
The Board recognizes that the right “lies at the heart” of the AAAS mission of AAAS and undertakes to bring the perspectives of scientists to an international process to definitively define the right.

Intersections of Science, Ethics and Human Rights: The Question of Human Subjects Protection. 2012.
This white paper was prepared by a working group of the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition, a network of scientific and engineering membership organizations that recognize a role for science and scientists in efforts to realize human rights. 

Connecting Science, Engineering, Ethics and Human Rights: Beyond Human Subjects Research. 2012.
This report is a summary of the views and suggestions expressed by attendees at the workshop on “Connecting Science, Engineering, Ethics and Human Rights: Beyond Human Subjects Research” held in Washington, DC on June 18, 2012.

Primer on Scientific Freedom and Human Rights. 2012.
This primer focuses on equipping scientific and engineering societies, as well as other scientifically-oriented organizations, with the tools to effectively develop processes and procedures to address human rights issues, particularly responding to allegations of human rights violations against members of the scientific, engineering and health communities. The primer is a product of a Working Group of the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition. 

A Human Right to Science. Chapman, Audrey and Wyndham, Jessica. Science. 2013.
A Policy Forum article in Science Magazine.

Defining the Right to Enjoy the Benefits of Scientific Progress and Its Applications. 2013.
This is a report of the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition which was presented to the United Nations in October 2013. The report contains the findings of an 18-focus group process involving 145 participants from a diversity of scientific and engineering disciplines,  the objective of which was to learn the perspectives of U.S. based scientists, engineers and health professionals as to the meaning, application and barriers to implementation of the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications.

Social Responsibility: A Preliminary Inquiry into the Perspectives of Scientists, Engineers and Health Professionals. 2015.
This report provides a summary of findings arising from an online questionnaire distributed to scientists, engineers and health professionals internationally. The primary aim was to learn their perspectives on the nature and scope of their responsibilities and to identify any apparent similarities and differences in perspectives according to multiple demographic variables. This initial data gathering exercise has  informed a follow-up survey of the international scientific and engineering communities that will be more representative and scientifically rigorous.

Human Rights in Codes of Ethics of Scientific and Professional Societies. 2015.
This statement, developed by a working group of the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition, is intended to encourage and offer guidance to professional societies in linking their ethics codes/guidelines to human rights principles.