Over the last several years, as cesarean deliveries have grown increasingly common, there has been a great deal of public and professional interest in the phenomenon of women 'choosing' to deliver by cesarean section in the absence of any specific medical indication. The issue has sparked intense conversation, as it raises questions about the nature of autonomy in birth. Whereas mainstream bioethical discourse is used to associating autonomy with having a large array of choices, this conception of autonomy does not (...) seem adequate to capture concerns and intuitions that have a strong grip outside this discourse. An empirical and conceptual exploration of how delivery decisions ought to be negotiated must be guided by a rich understanding of women's agency and its placement within a complicated set of cultural meanings and pressures surrounding birth. It is too early to be 'for' or 'against' women's access to cesarean delivery in the absence of traditional medical indications – and indeed, a simple pro- or con- position is never going to do justice to the subtlety of the issue. The right question is not whether women ought to be allowed to choose their delivery approach but, rather, taking the value of women's autonomy in decision-making around birth as a given, what sorts of guidelines, practices, and social conditions will best promote and protect women's full inclusion in a safe and positive birth process. (shrink)
Though much progress has been made on inclusion of non-pregnant women in research, thoughtful discussion about including pregnant women has lagged behind. We outline resulting knowledge gaps and their costs and then highlight four reasons why ethically we are obliged to confront the challenges of including pregnant women in clinical research. These are: the need for effective treatment for women during pregnancy, fetal safety, harm from the reticence to prescribe potentially beneficial medication, and the broader issues of justice and access (...) to benefits of research participation. Going forward requires shifting the burden of justification from inclusion to exclusion and developing an adequate ethical framework that specifies suitable justifications for excluding pregnant women from research. (shrink)
: Originally presented during Ethic Rounds at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, this commentary on the case of a patient treated for life-threatening cancer explores the responsibilities of health care providers when addressing the patient's desire to adopt a child.
In this article, we present an analysis of defeasible generalizations -- generalizations which are essentially exception-laden, yet genuinely explanatory -- in terms of various notions of privileged conditions. We argue that any plausible epistemology must make essential use of defeasible generalizations so understood. We also consider the epistemic significance of the sort of understanding of context that is required for understanding of explanatory defeasible generalizations on any topic.
A timely and penetrating investigation, this book seeks to transform moral philosophy. In the face of continuing disagreement about which general moral principles are correct, there has been a resurgence of interest in the idea that correct moral judgements can be only about particular cases. This view--moral particularism--forecasts a revolution in ordinary moral practice that has until now consisted largely of appeals to general moral principles. Moral particularism also opposes the primary aim of most contemporary normative moral theory that attempts (...) to show that either one general principle, or a set of general principles, is superior to all its rivals. (shrink)
In this article, I urge that mainstream discussions of abortion are dissatisfying in large part because they proceed in polite abstraction from the distinctive circumstances and meanings of gestation. Such discussions, in fact, apply to abortion conceptual tools that were designed on the premiss that people are physically demarcated, even as gestation is marked by a thorough-going intertwinement. We cannot fully appreciate what is normatively at stake with legally forcing continued gestation, or again how to discuss moral responsibilities to continue (...) gestating, until we appreciate in their own terms the goods and evils distinctive of gestational connection. To underscore the need to explore further the meanings of gestation, I provide two examples of the difference it might make to legal and moral discussions of abortion if we appreciate more fully that gestation is an intimacy. (shrink)
In this paper, I urge that the very real lessons Carol Gilligan's work in moral psychology offer to moral philosophy can best be appreciated if we take seriously the gap between the two disciplines. The care and justice perspectives Gilligan explores are psychological orientations, and orientations are defined as much by matters of emphasis, selectivity of interpretation, and gestalt as they are by propositional commitment. As such, I argue, their contribution to moral theory is best seen as stances from which (...) to do theory, rather than as constituting ready-made theories themselves. In pursuing this train of thought, I examine how Gilligan's work has developed over time and how, in the end, we should understand the juxtaposition between the two orientations. (shrink)
: Many have asked how and why feminist theory makes a distinctive contribution to bioethics. In this essay, I outline two ways in which feminist reflection can enrich bioethical studies. First, feminist theory may expose certain themes of androcentric reasoning that can affect, in sometimes crude but often subtle ways, the substantive analysis of topics in bioethics; second, it can unearth the gendered nature of certain basic philosophical concepts that form the working tools of ethical theory.
I develop two different epistemic roles for emotion and desire. Caring for moral ends and people plays a pivotal though contingent role in ensuring reliable awareness of morally salient details; possession of various emotions and motives is a necessary condition for autonomous understanding of moral concepts themselves. Those who believe such connections compromise the "objective" status of morality tend to assume rather than argue for the bifurcated conception of reason and affect this essay challenges.