There is a fundamental inconsistency in Western society’s treatment of non-human animals on the one hand, and of human foetuses on the other. While most Western countries allow the butchering of animals and their use in experimentation, this must occur under carefully controlled conditions that are intended to minimize their pain and suffering as much as possible. At the same time, most Western countries permit various abortion methods without similar concerns for the developing fetus. The only criteria for deciding which (...) abortion method is used centre in the stage of the pregnancy, the size of the fetus, the health of the pregnant woman and the physician’s preference. This is out of step with the underlying ethos of animal cruelty legislation, cannot be justified ethically and should be rectified by adjusting abortion methods to the capacity of the fetus to experience nociception and/or pain. (shrink)
Many countries encourage immigration, yet almost without exception they impose medical conditions on the admissibility of prospective immigrants. This paper examines the ethical defensibility of this practice. It argues that the neighbourhood principle, which states that we owe a greater duty to neighbours than to strangers, when properly understood, extends to all human beings, that economic and safety considerations play only a limited role in ethically underwriting an exclusionary policy, and that medical immigration criteria should be harmonized with treatment eligibility (...) criteria for citizens of the relevant countries themselves. (shrink)
Substitute decision-makers for severely disabled neonates who can be kept alive but who will require constant medical interventions and will die at the latest in their teens are faced with a difficult decision when trying to decide whether to keep the infant alive. By and large, the primary focus of their decision-making centers on what is in the best interests of the newborn. The best-interests criterion, in turn, is importantly conditioned by quality-of-life considerations. However, the concept of quality of life (...) is logically and ethically different for patients with a developing as opposed to a developed awareness. Unfortunately, this difference is ignored by current quality-of-life considerations, there are no quality-of-life measures that take this difference into account, and decision-making proceeds entirely without acknowledging this fact. This note outlines why this is a problem and why there is a need for a new set of tools that incorporates this distinction if the substitute decision-makers are to apply the best-interest criterion in a meaningful way. (shrink)
At ’Opus Oxoniense’ book I, d.2, q.1, John Duns Scotus gives an argument for the existence of God that is based on the distinction between essentially and accidentally ordered efficient causes. Historically, this argument has been rejected because the claim that accidentally ordered causes require essentially ordered causes to account for the perpetuation of forms is question-begging. I argue that the critics of Scotus’s argument have failed to consider the ontology of the theory substance, accident and causation with which Scotus (...) is operating, and that once this is taken into account the traditional critique fails. (shrink)
Sex selection, which refers to the attempt to choose or control the sex of a child prior to its birth, has become the subject of increasing ethical scrutiny and many jurisdictions have criminalized it except for serious sex-linked diseases or conditions that cannot easily be ameliorated or remedied. This paper argues that such a blanket prohibition is ethically unwarranted because it is based on a flawed understanding of the difference between sexist values and mere sex-oriented preferences. It distinguishes between ethics (...) and public policy, and suggests a way of allowing preference-based sex selection as a matter of public policy without permitting value-based sex selection. It further argues that medically-based sex selection should be publicly funded but that preference-base sex selection should not be paid for by society, and that the prohibition against value-based sex selection should be enforced through legislation that controls the licensing of health care facilities and through disciplinary procedures against health care professionals. (shrink)
To date, over 5,000 applications have been filed with United States Patent Office for patents on human genes. More than 1,500 of these applications have been granted. Other jurisdictions are experiencing a similar rush to mine and protect genomic gold. This paper argues that although many jurisdictions allow the patenting of human genes, this is ethically indefensible and amounts to an unjustified appropriation of a general human heritage. Economic and legal arguments in favour of patenting are considered and rejected. Reference (...) is made to the Wellcome Trust Consortium's initiative and the Merck Gene Index Project, which place patented genetic information into the public domain. (shrink)
It is commonly believed thatgeriatric medicine generates a distinctive setof ethical problems. Implicated are such issuesas resource allocation, competence and consent,advance directives, medical futility anddeliberate death. It is also argued that itwould be unjust to allow the elderly to competewith younger populations for expensive andscarce health care resources because theelderly “have already lived,” and that treatingthem the same as these other populations woulddiminish the available resources unfairly,prolong a life of inevitably failing health andresult in increased health care expenditures.In fact, however, (...) this perception of ethicaluniqueness is mistaken. Differences in medicalconditions, demographics and aetiology shouldnot be allowed to obscure the fact that ethicalissues in geriatric medicine are essentiallythe same as those faced in any other area ofhealth care, and that the solutions that areadopted in the geriatric context must beconsistent with the ethical principles that arefollowed elsewhere. The paper argues that theroot of the mistaken perception lies in theabandonment of the Hippocratic mandate ofmedicine and in an unreflective adherence tothe belief that medical advances are inevitablybeneficial. It is suggested that a return topatient-centred medicine and the use of ethicsimpact analyses before introducing medicaladvances may be ethically appropriate. (shrink)
It is generally assumed that allocation problems in a socialized health care system result from limited resources and too much demand. Attempts at solutions have therefore centered in increasing efficiency, using evidence-based decision-making and on developing ways of balancing competing demands within the existing resource limitation. This article suggests that some of the difficulties in macro-allocation decision-making may result from the use of conflicting ethical perspectives by decision-makers. It presents evidence from a preliminary Canadian study to this effect.
The current global shortage of organs has prompted aseries of proposals for improving organ retrievalrates. They include preferred recipient status forregistered organ donors, payment for organs, presumedconsent and required response. This paper examinesthe tenability of these proposals and points out theirshortcomings. Taking the Canadian situation as anexample, it argues further that the shortage isexacerbated by unethical and essentially illegalretrieval protocols that flout the law of informedconsent. It is suggested that before any redrafting oflaws and regulations is undertaken, these protocolsshould be (...) revised. (shrink)
The notion of cerebral death is examined in relation to those of cardiopulmonary and whole-brain death. It is argued that rather than being a new concept of death, it is merely a new criterion that leaves the old concept — death as loss of personhood — intact. The argument begins on a theoretical level with the distinction between criteria and concepts, places both into context with the notion of a conceptual framework in its relation to empirical reality, and then particularizes (...) the result to criteria for the determination of death. It is argued that the suggestion of the cerebral criterion is nothing more than an attempt to realign the concept of death with the empirical data with which it has come out of step due to new developments in the empirical field. The paper considers tutioristic objections to the criterion, and shows its compatibility with dualistic religio-metaphysical positions by considering an actual example. It also addresses briefly the ethical impact of the criterion on medical practice. (shrink)
Bolzano's position on logic and his theory of sentences-in-themselves and their analysis, as well as his position on existence statements and subjective representations show a striking and profound similarity to Frege's theory of thoughts, his analysis of propositions, representations and judgment, as well as his position on the nature of logic in general. Bolzano's theories on these points, therefore, may well have been seminal to the development of Frege's position.
Es ist allgemein bekannt, daß Frege stark von Leibniz beeinflußt worden ist; jedoch behauptet Patzig (Frege, Leibniz u. d. sogenannte ,lingua characteristica universalis', in: Studia Leibnitiana, Suppl., vol. III no. 3 (1969), pp. 103-112), daß seine Leibniz-Kenntnisse nur auf indirekten Quellen fußten und im Grunde äußerst gering waren. Dieser Aufsatz soll zeigen, daß solche und ähnliche Behauptungen auf ungenügender Kenntnis von Freges Schriften beruhen.