Why should all human beings have certain rights simply by virtue of being human? One justification is an appeal to religious authority. However, in increasingly secular societies this approach has its limits. An alternative answer is that human rights are justified through human dignity. This paper argues that human rights and human dignity are better separated for three reasons. First, the justification paradox: the concept of human dignity does not solve the justification problem for human rights but rather aggravates it (...) in secular societies. Second, the Kantian cul-de-sac: if human rights were based on Kant’s concept of dignity rather than theist grounds, such rights would lose their universal validity. Third, hazard by association: human dignity is nowadays more controversial than the concept of human rights, especially given unresolved tensions between aspirational dignity and inviolable dignity. In conclusion, proponents of universal human rights will fare better with alternative frameworks to justify human rights rather than relying on the concept of dignity. (shrink)
Why should all human beings have certain rights simply by virtue of being human? One justification is an appeal to religious authority. However, in increasingly secular societies this approach has its limits. An alternative answer is that human rights are justified through human dignity. This paper argues that human rights and human dignity are better separated for three reasons. First, the justification paradox: the concept of human dignity does not solve the justification problem for human rights but rather aggravates it (...) in secular societies. Second, the Kantian cul-de-sac: if human rights were based on Kant's concept of dignity rather than theist grounds, such rights would lose their universal validity. Third, hazard by association: human dignity is nowadays more controversial than the concept of human rights, especially given unresolved tensions between aspirational dignity and inviolable dignity. In conclusion, proponents of universal human rights will fare better with alternative frameworks to justify human rights rather than relying on the concept of dignity. (shrink)
In 2006, the Indonesian government decided to withhold avian flu samples from the World Health Organization. They argued that even though Indonesian samples were crucial to the development of vaccines, the results of vaccine research would be unaffordable for its citizens. Commentaries on the case varied from alleging blackmail to welcoming this strong stance against alleged exploitation. What is clear is that the concern expressed is related to benefit sharing.Benefit sharing requires resource users to return benefits to resource providers in (...) order to achieve justice. One benefit sharing tool within health research is the duty to provide a health care intervention which has been proven to be beneficial (or alternative benefits) to research participants after a study has been concluded. This duty is generally known as a post-study obligation. It was enshrined in the Declaration of Helsinki in 2000 and re-emphasized in 2008. Yet, there are few, if any, examples of good practice.In this article, we analyse the obstacles to giving more bite to benefit sharing provisions in health research through ethical review. We conclude that the provision of post-study access to healthcare interventions is not a promising mechanism when monitored through research ethics committees. Alternative benefit provision is preferable if one focuses on achieving compliance. However, even the latter faces challenges, which we address in specific recommendations. (shrink)
Response Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11673-010-9259-x Authors Doris Schroeder, Centre for Professional Ethics, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, PR1 2HE England Journal Journal of Bioethical Inquiry Online ISSN 1872-4353 Print ISSN 1176-7529.
Abstract Benefit sharing as envisaged by the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is a relatively new idea in international law. Within the context of non-human biological resources, it aims to guarantee the conservation of biodiversity and its sustainable use by ensuring that its custodians are adequately rewarded for its preservation. Prior to the adoption of the CBD, access to biological resources was frequently regarded as a free-for-all. Bioprospectors were able to take resources out of their natural habitat and develop (...) commercial products without sharing benefits with states or local communities. This paper asks how CBD-style benefit-sharing fits into debates of justice. It is argued that the CBD is an example of a set of social rules designed to increase social utility. It is also argued that a common heritage of humankind principle with inbuilt benefit-sharing mechanisms would be preferable to assigning bureaucratic property rights to non-human biological resources. However, as long as the international economic order is characterized by serious distributive injustices, as reflected in the enormous poverty-related death toll in developing countries, any morally acceptable means toward redressing the balance in favor of the disadvantaged has to be welcomed. By legislating for a system of justice-in-exchange covering nonhuman biological resources in preference to a free-for-all situation, the CBD provides a small step forward in redressing the distributive justice balance. It therefore presents just legislation sensitive to the international relations context in the 21st century. (shrink)
edited by Doris Schroeder, welcomes contributions on all areas outlined below. Submitted papers are peer-reviewed (short discussion papers will be reviewed by at least one, full papers by at least two reviewers). To submit a paper or to discuss suitable topics, please e-mail Doris Schroeder at email@example.com.
Functional foods aim to provide a positive impact on health and well-being beyond their nutritive content. As such, they are likely candidates to enhance the public health official’s tool kit. Or are they? Although a very small number of functional foods (e.g., phytosterol-enriched margarine) show such promise in improving individual health that Dutch health insurance companies reimburse their costs to consumers, one must not draw premature conclusions about functional foods as a group. A large number of questions about individual products’ (...) safety, efficacy, and affordability need to be answered before they might become an important part of the public health agenda. More importantly, though, the costs and benefits of functional foods relative to alternative mechanisms of public health improvement need to be ascertained. Alternative scenarios that warrant investigation are mainly the supply of nutraceutical ingredients in pill form targeting “at risk” groups and consumer education on diet and lifestyle. (shrink)
On September 28, 2002, 11-year-old Jakob von Metzler, a banker's son, was abducted on the way to his parents' house in Frankfurt. A sum of one million Euro was demanded for his release. Three days after Jakob's disappearance, Magnus Gäfgen, a 32-year-old law student, collected the ransom from the arranged tram stop in Frankfurt during the night. While under observation by the police, he ordered a new Mercedes and booked a holiday abroad. Seventy-six hours after Jakob's disappearance, the police arrested (...) Gäfgen and his 16-year-old girlfriend while simultaneously searching his flat. There they found the missing ransom, but no sign of Jakob. a b. (shrink)
The European debate around genetically modified foods was one of the most sustained and ardent public discussions in the late 1990s. Concerns about risks to human health and the environment were voiced alongside claims that healthier foods can be produced more efficiently and in a more environmentally friendly manner using the new technology. The aims of this paper are (1) to test the usefulness of Stephen Toulminâs argumentation model for the analysis of public debates almost 50Â years after it was (...) first introduced, and (2) to establish whether any of the parties in the genetically modified (GM) food debate used seriously flawed argumentation. The paper argues that Stephen Toulminâs argumentation model can be useful in three ways when analysing public debates. Firstly, incomplete or flawed claims can be defeated by exposing missing or mismatching argumentation elements; all examined arguments in the GM debate were well formulated. Secondly, weaknesses in argumentation can be identified by making explicit warrants and backing; in the GM case, this allowed the identification of points of attack for counter-argumentation. Thirdly, analysing the type of backing used, allows inferences about the persuasion approach taken. The industrialists employed ethical principles as their backing much more than the scientists and environmentalists, a surprising result. (shrink)
Liberal theories of social justicefocus predominantly on the national, ratherthan international, level, and where they doaddress international concerns they insist thatprinciples of justice at the national levelhave priority over principles at theinternational level. We question the coherenceof this arrangement, given liberal theory'scommitment to moral equality of persons as suchrather than to that of particular sets of persons. What isat issue is whether liberal theory can providea coherent basis for international justice atall. If it is to do so, we suggest that (...) it mustbe prepared to theorise beyond the nationstate, and to take a historical perspectivewhich takes into account the ways in whichcolonial power and exploitation have given riseto the problems of international justice weface today. (shrink)
This article considers how we should frame the ethical issues raised by current proposals for large-scale genebanks with on-going links to medical and lifestyle data, such as the Wellcome Trust and Medical Research Council's 'UK Biobank'. As recent scandals such as Alder Hey have emphasised, there are complex issues concerning the informed consent of donors that need to be carefully considered. However, we believe that a preoccupation with informed consent obscures important questions about the purposes to which such collections are (...) put, not least that they may be only haphazardly used for research (especially that of commercial interest)—an end that would not fairly reflect the original altruistic motivation of donors, and the trust they must invest. We therefore argue that custodians of such databases take on a weighty pro-active duty, to encourage public debate about the ends of such collections and to sponsor research that reflects publicly agreed priorities and provides public benefits. (shrink)
Trust in the "agro-food" sector has been declining in recent years reflecting a general decline of trust in traditional decision making processes. The introduction of new technologies in the production of foods re-introduces the problem of trust and highlights the parameters affecting its structure and direction. This paper discusses the issue of trust in relation to the introduction of functional foods into the market. Trust is assessed as both a philosophical and a psychological construct with particular emphasis on its communication (...) aspects. The paper ends with specific recommendations for action in the agro-food sector. (shrink)
This paper explores the usefulness of the 'ethical matrix', proposed by Ben Mepham, as a tool in technology assessment, specifically in food ethics. We consider what the matrix is, how it might be useful as a tool in ethical decision-making, and what drawbacks might be associated with it. We suggest that it is helpful for fact-finding in ethical debates relating to food ethics; but that it is much less helpful in terms of weighing the different ethical problems that it uncovers. (...) Despite this drawback, we maintain that, with some modifications, the ethical matrix can be a useful tool in debates in food ethics. We argue that useful modifications might be to include future generations amongst the stakeholders in the matrix, and to substitute the principle of solidarity for the principle of justice. (shrink)
This collection examines how the field of ethics has developed over the past fifty years, by bringing together those articles that have been seminal in the development of the subject. Each of the six volumes carries an introduction presenting the historical context of the material, and a new index is provided to identify key philosophical themes and trends within the collection. The volumes are organized thematically, and include: * Vol.1: Nature and Scope * Vol. 2: Ethical Issues in Medicine, Technology (...) and the Life Sciences * Vol. 3: Ethical Issues in Medicine, Technology and the Life Sciences II * Vol. 4: Environment * Vol. 5: Business/Economics * Vol. 6: Politics. (shrink)
The concept of Homo economicus, one of the major foundations of neoclassical economics and a subset of the ideology of laisser-faire capitalism, was recently charged and tried in the island high court. Using the island's virtual jury system for the first time, the accused was tried before a jury of three - Plato, Schopenhauer and feminist economists - chosen by him while under a veil of ignorance of the charge. All three returned guilty verdicts. Plato's was prescriptive: 'One ought not (...) to be like Homo economicus'. Schopenhauer's verdict was descriptive: Human nature is not Homo economicus'. The feminist verdict was both. Following the trial - described as a thought experiment - the island's resident philosopher put forward two claims: (a) Neoclassical economists base their theories on a deficient depiction of humankind (descriptive misconception) a claim supported by a witness expert in experimental economics; (b) The depiction holds a dominant but unjustified position in various discourses such as welfare state debates because it is promoted by a small but highly influential group of economically privileged, university-educated whites, namely graduates of economics, a claim supported by the sociology expert witness. (shrink)
This paper critically analyses the position that basic income schemes foster idleness and thereby create harm. The view is based on an alleged empirical link between idleness and violent crime and an equation of non-activity with the creation of burden for others. It will be argued that the empirical claim is weak because it relies on conjectures derived from studies on unemployment. In addition, opponents arguing that basic income leads to an unfair distribution of burden between `lazy idlers'' and `honest (...) taxpayers'' have to face three questions. Is the distribution of onerous or unpleasant work fair? Is the distribution of work burdens between paid and unpaid workers equitable? Is the distribution of work between the unemployed and the employed fair? None of these questions can be answered in the affirmative. Hence, it can be confirmed that the `idleness'' argument against basic income relies on unfounded premises. (shrink)