Advances in neuromodulation and an improved understanding of the anatomy and circuitry of psychopathology have led to a resurgence of interest in surgery for psychiatric disease. Clinical trials exploring deep brain stimulation (DBS), a focally targeted, adjustable and reversible form of neurosurgery, are being developed to address the use of this technology in highly selected patient populations. Psychiatric patients deemed eligible for surgical intervention, such as DBS, typically meet stringent inclusion criteria, including demonstrated severity, chronicity and a failure of conventional (...) therapy. Although a humanitarian device exemption by the US Food and Drug Administration exists for its use in obsessive-compulsive disorder, DBS remains a largely experimental treatment in the psychiatric context, with its use currently limited to clinical trials and investigative studies. The combination of a patient population at the limits of conventional therapy and a novel technology in a new indication poses interesting challenges to the informed consent process as it relates to clinical trial enrollment. These challenges can be divided into those that relate to the patient, their disease and the technology, with each illustrating how traditional conceptualisations of research consent may be inadequate in the surgical psychiatry context. With specific reference to risk analysis, patient autonomy, voluntariness and the duty of the clinician-researcher, this paper will discuss the unique challenges that clinical trials of surgery for refractory psychiatric disease present to the consent process. Recommendations are also made for an ethical approach to clinical trial consent acquisition in this unique patient population. (shrink)
Recent developments in the field of neurosurgery, specifically those dealing with the modification of mood and affect as part of psychiatric disease, have led some researchers to discuss the ethical implications of surgery to alter personality and personal identity. As knowledge and technology advance, discussions of surgery to alter undesirable traits, or possibly the enhancement of normal traits, will play an increasingly larger role in the ethical literature. So far, identity and enhancement have yet to be explored in a neurosurgical (...) context, despite the fact that 1) neurological disease and treatment both potentially alter identity, and 2) that neurosurgeons will likely be the purveyors of future enhancement implantable technology. Here, we use interviews with neurosurgical patients to shed light on the ethical issues and challenges that surround identity and enhancement in neurosurgery. The results provide insight into how patients approach their identity prior to potentially identity-altering procedures and what future ethical challenges lay ahead for clinicians and researchers in the field of neurotherapeutics. (shrink)
We argue that critiques of political process theory are beginning to coalesce into new approach to social movements--a "multi-institutional politics" approach. While the political process model assumes that domination is organized by and around one source of power, the alternative perspective views domination as organized around multiple sources of power, each of which is simultaneously material and symbolic. We examine the conceptions of social movements, politics, actors, goals, and strategies supported by each model, demonstrating that the view of society and (...) power underlying the political process model is too narrow to encompass the diversity of contemporary change efforts. Through empirical examples, we demonstrate that the alternative approach provides powerful analytical tools for the analysis of a wide variety of contemporary change efforts. (shrink)
Background As a number of commentators have noted, SARS exposed the vulnerabilities of our health care systems and governance structures. Health care professionals (HCPs) and hospital systems that bore the brunt of the SARS outbreak continue to struggle with the aftermath of the crisis. Indeed, HCPs – both in clinical care and in public health – were severely tested by SARS. Unprecedented demands were placed on their skills and expertise, and their personal commitment to their profession was severely tried. Many (...) were exposed to serious risk of morbidity and mortality, as evidenced by the World Health Organization figures showing that approximately 30% of reported cases were among HCPs, some of whom died from the infection. Despite this challenge, professional codes of ethics are silent on the issue of duty to care during communicable disease outbreaks, thus providing no guidance on what is expected of HCPs or how they ought to approach their duty to care in the face of risk. Discussion In the aftermath of SARS and with the spectre of a pandemic avian influenza, it is imperative that we (re)consider the obligations of HCPs for patients with severe infectious diseases, particularly diseases that pose risks to those providing care. It is of pressing importance that organizations representing HCPs give clear indication of what standard of care is expected of their members in the event of a pandemic. In this paper, we address the issue of special obligations of HCPs during an infectious disease outbreak. We argue that there is a pressing need to clarify the rights and responsibilities of HCPs in the current context of pandemic flu preparedness, and that these rights and responsibilities ought to be codified in professional codes of ethics. Finally, we present a brief historical accounting of the treatment of the duty to care in professional health care codes of ethics. Summary An honest and critical examination of the role of HCPs during communicable disease outbreaks is needed in order to provide guidelines regarding professional rights and responsibilities, as well as ethical duties and obligations. With this paper, we hope to open the social dialogue and advance the public debate on this increasingly urgent issue. (shrink)
The principle of gratuitous suffering -- The value of humans and the value of animals -- The holocaust of factory farming -- Hunting -- Animal experimentation -- The law and animals -- Women and animals.
Perhaps the greatest impediment to a viable libertarianism is the provision of a satisfactory explanation of how actions that are undetermined by an agent''s character can still be under the control of, or up to, the agent. The luck problem has been most assiduously examined by Robert Kane who supplies a detailed account of how this problem can be resolved. Although Kane''s theory is innovative, insightful, and more resourceful than most of his critics believe, it ultimately cannot account for the (...) type of control that moral responsibility and (ultimate) agency legitimately require. (shrink)
Although great progress in neuroanatomy and physiology has occurred lately, we still cannot go directly to those levels to discover the neural mechanisms of higher cognition and consciousness. But we can use neurocomputational methods based on these details to push this project forward. Here we describe vector subtraction as an operation that computes sequential paths through high-dimensional vector spaces. Vector-space interpretations of network activity patterns are a fruitful resource in recent computational neuroscience. Vector subtraction also appears to be implemented neurally (...) in primate frontal eye field activity, which computes dimensions of saccadic eye movements. We use this apparent neural implementation as a model and construct from it a general neurocomputational account of an important type of sequential cognitive and conscious process. We defend the biological plausibility of all components of the general model and show that it yields testable anatomical and physiological predictions. We close by suggesting some interesting consequences for consciousness if our model characterizes correctly the neural mechanisms producing a common type of episode in our conscious streams. (shrink)
In the past few years, the focus of arguments against theism has shifted. Where previously the existence of evil has been thought by many demonstrative of the impossibility of God's existence, now it is frequently purveyed as merely evidence against the existence of a Supreme Being. Even this more modest claim has been forcefully denied by William Alston and Peter van Inwagen. I argue that their arguments are not persuasive. Not only do they suffer logical flaws but, if accepted, actually (...) have pernicious effects on the values of reasoning and religious practice. (shrink)
In this fresh and powerfully argued book, Mark Bernstein identifies the qualities that make an entity deserving of moral consideration. It is frequently assumed that only (normal) human beings count. Bernstein argues instead for "experientialism"--the view that having conscious experiences is necessary and sufficient for moral standing. He demonstrates that this position requires us to include many non-human animals in our moral realm, but not to the extent that many deep ecologists champion.
It is undeniable that many human practices are detrimental to the well-being of non-human animals. Among other things, we trap and hunt them, experiment upon them, and kill them to use their flesh for food. We cause pain and suffering, and so a moral justification for these activities is required. Traditionally such a justification has taken the form of claiming that humans have some property–intelligence, ability to morally deliberate, etc.–which is both morally significant and missing in non-humans. However, once we (...) recall the existence of marginal or deficient humans, those who suffer from senility, retardation, Alzheimer disease, etc., this appeal loses much of its force. I investigate whether loyalty appeals can be used to support our treatment of non-humans as resources. That is, can we legitimately appeal to the fact that an individual is a fellow human to ground inferior moral behaviors toward non-human animals. I conclude that, concerning any of the major uses of animals, including the experimenting upon them in the hopes of finding cures and treatments of human diseases, loyalty appeals have no efficacy. (shrink)
A problem closely related to the perennial free will question is whether autonomy of persons can be reconciled with socialization. If this latter compatibilism can be established, It would have great bearing on the more general issue of freedom being reconcilable with determinism. In several recent articles robert young has tried to demonstrate the consistency of autonomy with socialization, But the author argues that he has failed to notice the depth and global nature of the socialization critic's position, And as (...) such fails in his attempt. As a result, There are no beneficial consequences reaped for the free will problem. (shrink)