The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) have conducted visits and written reports criticising the surgical castration of sex offenders in the Czech Republic and Germany. They claim that surgical castration is degrading treatment and have called for an immediate end to this practice. The Czech and German governments have published rebuttals of these criticisms. The rebuttals cite evidence about clinical effectiveness and point out this is an intervention that must be (...) requested by the sex offender and cannot occur without informed consent. This article considers a number of relevant arguments that are not discussed in these reports but which are central to how we might assess this practice. First, the article discusses the possible ways in which sex offenders could be coerced into castration and whether this is a decisive moral problem. Then, it considers a number of issues relevant to determining whether sex offenders are harmed by physical castration. The article concludes by arguing that sex offenders should not be coerced into castration, be that via threats or offers, but that there is no reason to think that this is occurring in the Czech Republic or Germany. In some cases, castration might be useful for reconfiguring a life that has gone badly awry and where there is no coercion, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment are mistaken about this being degrading treatment. (shrink)
The non-identity problem arises when an intervention or behavior changes the identity of those affected. Delaying pregnancy is an example of such a behavior. The problem is whether and in what ways such changes in identity affect moral considerations. While a great deal has been written about the non-identity problem, relatively little has been written about the implications for physicians and how they should understand their duties. We argue that the non-identity problem can make a crucial moral difference in some (...) circumstances, and that it has some interesting implications for when it is or is not right for a physician to refuse to accede to a patient's request. If a physician is asked to provide an intervention (identity preserving) that makes a person worse off, then such harm provides a good reason for the physician to refuse to provide the intervention. However, in cases where different (identity-altering) interventions result in different people having a better or worse life, physicians should normally respect patient choice. (shrink)
Intensive care units (ICUs) are not always able to admit all patients who would benefit from intensive care. Pressure on ICU beds is likely to be particularly high during times of epidemics such as might arise in the case of swine influenza. In making choices as to which patients to admit, the key US guidelines state that significant priority should be given to the interests of patients who are already in the ICU over the interests of patients who would benefit (...) from intensive care but who have not been admitted. We examine four reasons that in principle might justify such a prioritization rule and conclude that none is convincing. We argue that the current location of patients should not, in principle, affect their priority for intensive care. We show, however, that under some but not all circumstances, maximizing lives saved by intensive care might require continuing to treat in the ICU a patient already admitted rather than transferring that patient out of the unit in order to admit a sicker patient who would also benefit more from intensive care. We conclude that further modelling is required in order to clarify what practical policies would maximize lives saved by intensive care. (shrink)
Psychopaths have emotional and rational impairments that can be expressed in persistent criminal behaviour. UK and US law has not traditionally excused disordered individuals for their crimes citing these impairments as a cause for their criminal behaviour. Until now, the discussion of whether psychopaths are morally responsible for their behaviour has usually taken place in the realm of philosophy. However, in recent years, this debate has been informed by scientific and psychiatric advancements, fundamentally so with the development of Robert Hare's (...) diagnostic tool, the Psychopathy Checklist. Responsibility and Psychopathy explores the moral responsibility of psychopaths. It engages with problems at the interface between law, psychiatry, and philosophy, and is divided into three parts offering relevant interdisciplinary background information to address this main problem. The first part discusses the public policy and legal responses to psychopathy. It offers an introduction to the central practical issue of how public policy should respond to psychopathy, providing insights for those arguing about the responsibility of psychopaths. The second part introduces recent scientific advancements in the classification, description, explanation, and treatment of psychopathy. The third part of the volume includes chapters covering the most significant dimensions of philosophical debate on the moral and criminal responsibility of psychopaths. Exploring one of the most contentious topics of our time, this book will be fascinating reading for psychiatrists, philosophers, criminologists, and lawyers. Readership: Psychiatrists, philosophers, psychologists, criminologists . (shrink)
This introductory chapter begins with a brief explanation of the impetus behind the book as well as its objectives. It then discusses the history of consent and the challenges for informed consent. An overview of the subsequent chapters is presented.