Machine generated contents note: 1. Seven ways of making people better; 2. Rational approaches to the genetic challenge; 3. The best babies and parental responsibility; 4. Deaf embryos, morality, and the law; 5. Saviour siblings and treating people as a means; 6. Reproductive cloning and designing human beings; 7. Embryonic stem cells, vulnerability, and sanctity; 8. Gene therapies, hopes, and fears; 9. Considerable life extension and the meaning of life; 10. Taking the genetic challenge rationally.
Ethics can be understood as a code of behaviour or as the study of codes of behaviour. While the mission of the International Association of Bioethics is a scholarly examination of moral issues in health care and the biological sciences, many people in the field believe that it is also their task to create new and better codes of practice. Both ways of doing bioethics are sound, but it is important to be aware of the distinction. In this paper, I (...) will study the sources and aims of ethics and suggest a code of conduct for bioethicists based on recognition, responsibility, and respect. (shrink)
This paper explores the historical idea of improving humanity. Developments in genetics and political thought have during the last century contributed to eugenic policies which have sometimes had adverse effects on people's lives. But European philosophy has seen attempts to make better human beings long before the current scientific advances. The paper explores these attempts by an examination of the doctrines of Plato, Aristotle, Condorcet, Herder, and Mill, as well as the technological Romanticism of Mary Shelley, before moving on to (...) the more recent eugenic policies inspired by Darwin and Galton. (shrink)
In contemporary discussions on practical ethics, the concepts of autonomy and dignity have frequently been opposed. This tendency has been particularly visible in controversies regarding cloning, abortion, organ sales, and euthanasia. Freedom of research and freedom of choice, as instances of professional and personal autonomy, have been cited in arguments favouring these practices, while the dignity and sanctity of human life have been evoked in arguments against them. In the moral theory of Immanuel Kant, however, the concepts of autonomy and (...) dignity seem to coexist in mutual harmony. Respect for the freely chosen moral law and respect for the absolute value of humanity coincide, and give rise to a unified understanding of our duties toward ourselves and others. My question in this paper is, was Kant on to something here? Can autonomy and dignity, in the sense in which they are used in current debates, be brought together, and can the arguments be settled in a way that would satisfy both (or all) disagreeing parties? My answer to the question is, yes and no. Kant was definitely on to something in that he recognized two competing views in modern moral philosophy, and tried to consolidate them in an attempt to create a universal model of ethics. But in the end, he failed to fuse the two views together on equal terms. Instead, he sacrificed the modern idea of the self-governance of individuals on the altar of the premodern notion of the absolute inner worth of humanity. (shrink)
This paper examines the logic and morality of the German Stem Cell Act of 2002. After a brief description of the law’s scope and intent, its ethical dimensions are analysed in terms of symbolic threats, indirect consequences, and the encouragement of immorality. The conclusions are twofold. For those who want to accept the law, the arguments for its rationality and morality can be sound. For others, the emphasis on the uniqueness of the German experience, the combination of absolute and qualified (...) value judgments, and the lingering questions of indirect encouragement of immoral activities will probably be too much. (shrink)
Are sociologists always critical about genetics? Are philosophers always more supportive? This is the impression of many sociologists in the United Kingdom who argue that contemporary British philosophers criticise genetic technologies and applications in ways that scientists and medical doctors can deal with. They emphasise matters like informed consent, but pay less or no attention to the wider social consequences of technologies, practices and policies. Philosophers in their turn may see sociologists as irrationally hostile to science and medical practice. Some (...) of them refuse to criticise genetics, arguing that there is nothing to criticise. Others feel that their criticisms are in fact more accurate than the concerns raised by sociologists. And yet others point out that the impression of uncritical support can only be true of a certain specific group. Philosophers have so many internal disagreements among themselves that the generalisation can hardly be justified. In this paper an attempt is made by a sociologist (ML) and a philosopher (MH) to understand how sociological and philosophical perspectives on bioethics may differ in discussions about genetics. The paper, which proceeds in dialogue form, is based on our email correspondence on the advantages and disadvantages of genetic technologies and their applications, and on the idea of social consequences as understood by scholars from two different disciplines. (shrink)
Finland is internationally known as one of the leading centers of twentieth century analytic philosophy. This volume offers for the first time an overall survey of the Finnish analytic school. The rise of this trend is illustrated by original articles of Edward Westermarck, Eino Kaila, Georg Henrik von Wright, and Jaakko Hintikka. Contributions of Finnish philosophers are then systematically discussed in the fields of logic, philosophy of language, philosophy of science, history of philosophy, ethics and social philosophy. Metaphilosophical reflections on (...) the nature of philosophy are highlighted by the Finnish dialogue between analytic philosophy, phenomenology, pragmatism, and critical theory. (shrink)
Are there distinctly European values in bioethics, and if there are, what are they? Some Continental philosophers have argued that the principles of dignity, precaution, and solidarity reflect the European ethos better than the liberal concepts of autonomy, harm, and justice. These principles, so the argument goes, elevate prudence over hedonism, communality over individualism, and moral sense over pragmatism. Contrary to what their proponents often believe, however, dignity, precaution, and solidarity can be interpreted in many ways, and it is not (...) clear which reading would, or should, be favored by popular opinion. It is therefore dangerous to think that any one understanding of ``European'', or any other, values could be legitimately imposed on those who have different ideas about morality in health care and related fields. Bioethical principles should be employed to promote discussion, not to suppress it. (shrink)
Rights, autonomy, privacy, and confidentialityare concepts commonly used in discussionsconcerning genetic information. When theseconcepts are thought of as denoting absolutenorms and values which cannot be overriden byother considerations, conflicts among themnaturally occur.In this paper, these and related notions areexamined in terms of the duties and obligationsmedical professionals and their clients canhave regarding genetic knowledge. It issuggested that while the prevailing idea ofautonomy is unhelpful in the analysis of theseduties, and the ensuing rights, an alternativereading of personal self-determination canprovide a firmer (...) basis for ethical guidelinesand policies in this field. (shrink)
Ben Mepham has proposed that a ``matrix'' beused in the analysis of ethical problems in foodproduction and elsewhere. In particular cases, thismatrix would ideally cross the most important moralprinciples involved, and the individuals and groupsaffected by the decisions. In the following, Mepham'smodel is assessed in the case of geneticallyengineered bovine growth hormone. My argument is thata more straightforwardly ``consequentialist'' analysiscan draw attention to the problems of using thehormone better than Mepham's original proposal. It ispossible, however, that some nuances will be (...) lost inthe process. I do not, therefore, argue for theoverall superiority of my suggestion – it is merelya slightly different, and perhaps sometimes a morepromising, way to analyze the ethical dimensions offood production and marketing. (shrink)
In this paper we shall show that structuralist constraints applied to moral idealizations, have applications in critical ethical argumentation. Moreover, we developed some systematic concepts which may be used to evaluate the relevance and adequacy of descriptions of moral problems relative to given idealizing moral perspectives. Finally, it is shown that any two moral perspectives are comparable via the Kemeny-Snell measure of distance of rankings.
In a contribution to The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy , Professor Rosamond Rhodes argues that individuals sometimes have an obligation to know about their genetic disorders, because this is required by their status as autonomous persons. Her analysis, which is based on Kant's concept of autonomy and Aristotle's notion of friendship, is extended here to consequentialist concerns. These are of paramount importance if, as we believe and Professor Rhodes herself implies, the Kantian and Aristotelian doctrines can be helpful only (...) in the sphere of private morality, not in the public realm. Better tools for assessing the right to genetic ignorance as an issue of public policy can, we contend, be found in Mill's ideas concerning liberty and the prevention of harm. Our own conclusion, based on the Millian way of thinking, is that individuals probably do have the right to remain in ignorance in the cases Professor Rhodes presents as examples of a duty to know. (shrink)
Rights can be founded in a variety of ethical systems—e.g., on natural law, on the duties postulated by deontological ethics, and on the consequences of our actions. The concept of risk we will outline supports a theory of rights which provides at least individual human beings with the entitlement not to be harmed by the environmental impacts of biotechnology. The analysis can, we believe, also be extended to the rights of animals as well as ecosystems, both of which can be (...) harmed by human actions. We argue that further examination of these harms and rights would be the best way to proceed from emotional moral objections to truly ethical analyses in the context of biotechnology and the environment. (shrink)
Liberal Utilitarianism and Applied Ethics explores the foundations of early utilitarianism as well as the theoretical basis of social ethics and policy in modern Western welfare states. Matti Hayry shows how philosophers have misunderstood the very nature of utilitarianism since the turn of the 19th century and identifies the resulting problems in contemporary utilitarianism. Hayry argues that when the classical utilitarian principles of happiness, hedonism and impartiality are combined, the ensuing ethical theory may demand that we act immorally or unjustly. (...) This is because the scope of the utilitarian theory has been extended too far. Hayry develops a more limited utilitarian theory based on the ethos of early British universal altruism. He argues that a limited version of liberal utilitarianism and the methods of applied ethics should be employed to define our moral duties and rights. This is an important book in current discussions on social ethics and policy. Hayry's accomplished defense of utilitarian morality is certain to provoke debate. (shrink)
Philosophers sometimes think that philosophical ethics can be utilized in solving practical queries such as the abortion issue. They are most probably right, in principle. But they often tend to over-emphasize the importance of moral theories at the expense of the obvious diversity of ethics in practice. Practical or applied ethics cannot be reduced to the mere application of ready-made theories to practical problems.In the abortion issue the theoretical attitude leads many philosophers to think that there is one and only (...) one right solution in the matter. In the present paper it is argued that there are, in fact, many 'right-consistent and intuitive-solutions for this and for any other practical issue. Whether or not a solution will, ultimately, be the right one for us, is a matter of the intuitive acceptability of the rules the solution implies for our practical life as a whole. (shrink)
In this paper three questions concerning quality of life in medicine and health care are analysed and discussed: the motives for measuring the quality of life, the methods used in assessing it, and the definition of the concept. The purposes of the study are to find an ethically acceptable motive for measuring the quality of life; to identify the methodological advantages and disadvantages of the most prevalent current methods of measurement; and to present an approach towards measuring and defining the (...) quality of life which evades the difficulties encountered and discussed. The analysis comprises measurements both in the clinical situation concerning individual patients and in research concerning whole populations.Three motives are found for evaluating the quality of human life: allocation of scarce medical resources, facilitating clinical decision making, and assisting patients towards autonomous decision making. It is argued that the third alternative is the only one which does not evoke ethical problems. (shrink)