The doctrine of the mature minor began as an emergency exception to the rule of parental consent. Over time, the doctrine crept into cases that were non-emergent. In this essay, we show how the doctrine also developed in the context of the latter part of the 20th century, at the same time that the sexual revolution, the pill, and sexual liberation came to be seen as important symbols of female liberation—liberation that required that female minors be granted the status of (...) a mature minor. To do so moves sexual morality out of the domain of the family, where it had always been situated, and into the domain of the state. We also show how a phenomenological account of the care of the body in the family conforms to the latest in neuroscientific understandings of adolescent brain development. The family attenuates the dependency of adolescents and provides an important social contextualization for the care of the body, including the inculcation of sexual mores in adolescence. We conclude that the drive to push sexual decision making as a matter of state concern further undermines the foundations of the moral meanings of sex and sexuality. (shrink)
Health Savings Accounts have been marginalized in the West. In Singapore, however, they are foundational to the financing of health care. In this brief essay, I shall begin to sketch a justification for Health Savings Accounts. The family has always been thought of as a mere prolegomena to the polis and to be primarily about securing the goods of material life: food, shelter, intimacy. I shall first explore the recent scientific literature on the communal nature of human thriving and follow (...) it with a phenomenological account of human dependency. I shall claim that in securing the material means to sustain life, the family is also involved in the creation of the life-world of the child. That means that the bare necessities of life met in families are not merely about sustaining bodily life but are also part of the meaning-making aspects of life. The family then should have recourse to the material means of life-and-death decisions, because it is in these life-and-death decisions that the families’ life-world of values is to be deployed. (shrink)
Compelled by recent public and politicized cases in which withdrawal of nutrition and hydration were at issue, this essay examines recent Church statements and argues that the distinction between private and public forms of human life is being lost. Effacing the distinction between the sphere of the home (oikos), where the maintenance of life (zoē) occurs, and the city (polis), where political and public life (bios) occurs, may have unforeseen and unwanted consequences. Through their well-intentioned efforts to preserve the sanctity (...) of life, certain bishops and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith have unfortunately brought political considerations into the home, taking decision-making authority away from those most intimately related to the patient. Thus, the question of removing nutrition and hydration in the case of patients such as Schiavo and Englaro becomes politicized and abstract, in contrast with the Church's previous positions on the importance of proportionate means in the maintenance of life, local decision making, and its recognition of life as a penultimate end. (shrink)
After describing Heidegger's critique of metaphysics as ontotheology, I unpack the metaphysical assumptions of several transhumanist philosophers. I claim that they deploy an ontology of power and that they also deploy a kind of theology, as Heidegger meant it. I also describe the way in which this metaphysics begets its own politics and ethics. In order to transcend the human condition, they must transgress the human.
In the mid-1970s, the biomedical model of medicine gave way to the biopsychosocial model of medicine; it was billed as a more comprehensive and compassionate model of medicine. After more than a century of disentangling medicine from religion, the medicine and spirituality movement is attempting to bring religion and spirituality back into medicine. It is doing so under a biopsychosociospiritual model. I unpack one model for allowing religion back into medicine called the RCOPE. RCOPE is an instrument designed to categorize (...) religion and spirituality as psychological coping mechanisms. I explore how such instruments are related to the history of statistical measurement and demonstrate the political impetus that governs such enterprises. The biopsychosociospiritual medicine is billed as a more holistic and comprehensive model. This new model of medicine offers total care. However, I demonstrate how this total care becomes totalizing, indeed totalitarian, admitting religion and spirituality back into the fold of medicine under a new secularized medical control. (shrink)
This essay places Foucault's work into a philosophical context, recognizing that Foucault is difficult to place and demonstrates that Foucault remains in the Kantian tradition of philosophy, even if he sits at the margins of that tradition. For Kant, the forms of intuition—space and time—are the a priori conditions of the possibility of human experience and knowledge. For Foucault, the a priori conditions are political space and historical time. Foucault sees political space as central to understanding both the subject and (...) objects of medicine, psychiatry, and the social sciences. Through this analysis one can see that medicine's metaphysics is a metaphysics of efficient causation, where medicine's objects are subjected to mechanisms of efficient control. (shrink)
Humanity does not gradually progress from combat to combat until it arrives at universal reciprocity, where the rule of law finally replaces warfare; humanity installs each of its violences in a system of rules and thus proceeds from domination to domination. (Foucault, 1984, 85)In this essay, I take a note from Michel Foucault regarding the notion of biopolitics. For Foucault, biopolitics has both repressive and constitutive properties. Foucault's claim is that with the rise of modern government, the state became exceedingly (...) concerned about the body politic, the bodies that make up the polis, including the health of those bodies. However, Giorgio Agamben claims that Foucault and all western political philosophy misses the relationship between power and Sovereignty, with disastrous results and totalizing tendencies. I explore the case of Terri Schiavo claiming that the social conservatives have attempted to politicize bare life in its legal maneuverings, but I also show how the social liberals open an uncontrollable space between life and death. Both the left and the right miss the aporia at the heart of western political philosophy, and bioethics is complicit in the totalizing effects of contemporary medicine. (shrink)