According to Autumn Fiester, the Presumption of Restraint—the thesis that an application of biotechnology to an animal is unethical unless backed by morally compelling reasons—is justified by five ethical claims. In this commentary, I explore the relevance of what Derek Parfit has dubbed the Non-Identity Problem for the implications of one of these claims, the Animal Welfare Claim. I conclude that while the Animal Welfare Claim condemns the alteration of founder animals in ways that are bad for them when there (...) is no important human or animal health benefit in the offing, it fails to condemn the alteration of animals in the context of important research projects, even if the alteration causes some animal suffering, and, given the Non-Identity Problem, it fails to condemn the subsequent creation of animals bred from the founders, so long as the subsequent animals have a life worth living. (shrink)
If Dworkin’s theory of civil disobedience is right, then the scientists, given their objections, would not have been justified in civil disobedience. However, they could have been justified, had they chosen to object on grounds provided by just war theory or by an account of democratic legitimacy.
The problem: we’re spending a lot without commensurate benefit Spending: 1. Health costs are about 14% of GNP, and are expected to exceed 30% by the year 2030 2. Estimated that the use of new technology and the overuse of existing technology accounts..
In this paper, I will attempt to concisely present Moore’s article “A Defence of Common Sense.” It is a collection of discussions of four points, loosely tied together by the commonality that Moore’s position regarding these points differs from positions taken up by some other philosophers.
• A coin appears to be elliptical when looked at from an angle, but it’s round. • A stick appears to be bent when it is partly immersed in water, but it’s straight. • An oasis appears to exist, but it doesn’t. • A bucket of water appears to be two different temperatures to two different hands, but it’s all..
I saw a poster the other day that said: “Living. It’s the only thing worth dying for.” Now, I’m not sure what that means really—in fact, I think it is an advertisement for a clothing company—but it brings up an interesting issue or cluster of issues. Are there things worth dying for? Or, and I know this is a very different question, are there things worth killing for? This is the question which we are going to talk about this week (...) and next. Of course, we’ll be talking about it on an international scale, but I think its answer hinges in important ways on the individual scale. We’ll come back to this point and we can get at it in more detail in the question period if you like. (shrink)
Researchers are increasingly interested in creating chimeras by transplanting human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) into animals early in development. One concern is that such research could confer upon an animal the moral status of a normal human adult but then impermissibly fail to accord it the protections it merits in virtue of its enhanced moral status. Understanding the public policy implications of this ethical conclusion, though, is complicated by the fact that claims about moral status cannot play an unfettered role (...) in public policy. Arguments like those employed in the abortion debate for the conclusion that abortion should be legally permissible even if abortion is not morally permissible also support, to a more limited degree, a liberal policy on hESC research involving the creation of chimeras. (shrink)
A review of the consent forms signed by those who donated embryos for the NIH-approved embryonic stem cell lines reveals several problems, providing ethical as well as scientific reasons to overturn the Bush administration’s restrictions on federal funding for stem cell research.
Experiments involving the transplantation of human stem cells and their derivatives into early fetal or embryonic nonhuman animals raise novel ethical issues due to their possible implications for enhancing the moral status of the chimeric individual. Although status-enhancing research is not necessarily objectionable from the perspective of the chimeric individual, there are grounds for objecting to it in the conditions in which it is likely to occur. Translating this ethical conclusion into a policy recommendation, however, iscomplicated by the fact that (...) substantial empirical and ethical uncertainties remain about which transplants, if any, would significantly enhance the chimeric individual’s moral status. Considerations of moral status justify either an early-termination policy on chimeric embryos, or, in the absence of such a policy, restrictions on the introduction of pluripotent human stem cells into early-stage developing animals, pending the resolution of those uncertainties. (shrink)
: Commercial academic-industry relationships (AIRs) are widespread in biotechnology and have resulted in a wide array of restrictions on academic research. Objections to such restrictions have centered on the charge that they violate academic freedom. I argue that these objections are almost invariably unsuccessful. On a consequentialist understanding of the value of academic freedom, they rely on unfounded empirical claims about the overall effects that AIRs have on academic research. And on a rights-based understanding of the value of academic freedom, (...) they rely on excessively lavish assumptions about the kinds of activities that academic freedom protects. (shrink)
We argue that while presidential candidates have the right to medical privacy, the public nature and importance of the presidency generates a moral requirement that candidates waive those rights in certain circumstances. Specifically, candidates are required to disclose information about medical conditions that are likely to seriously undermine their ability to fulfill what we call the "core functions" of the office of the presidency. This requirement exists because (1) people have the right to be governed only with their consent, (2) (...) people's consent is meaningful only when they have access to information necessary for making informed voting decisions, (3) such information is necessary for making informed voting decisions, and (4) there are no countervailing reasons sufficiently strong to override this right. We also investigate alternative mechanisms for legally encouraging or requiring disclosure. Protecting the public's right to this information is of particular importance because of the documented history of deception and secrecy regarding the health of presidents and presidential candidates. (shrink)
In her recent article, Does autonomy count in favor of labeling genetically modified food?, Kirsten Hansen argues that in Europe, voluntary negative labeling of non-GM foods respects consumer autonomy just as well as mandatory positive labeling of foods with GM content. She also argues that because negative labeling places labeling costs upon those consumers that want to know whether food is GM, negative labeling is better policy than positive labeling. In this paper, we argue that Hansens arguments are mistaken in (...) several respects. Most importantly, she underestimates the demands of respecting autonomy and overestimates the cost of positive labeling. Moreover, she mistakenly implies that only a small minority of people desire information about GM content. We also explore the extent to which her arguments would apply to the US context, and argue that any discussion of the relationship between autonomy and labeling should include not just considerations of consumer autonomy but also considerations of what we call citizen autonomy. (shrink)
I analyze Ojibway objections to genomics and genetics research on wild rice. Although key academic and industry participants in this research have dismissed their objections out of hand, my analysis supports the conclusion that the objections merit serious consideration, even by those who do not share the Ojibway’s religious beliefs.
: Experiments involving the transplantation of human stem cells and their derivatives into early fetal or embryonic nonhuman animals raise novel ethical issues due to their possible implications for enhancing the moral status of the chimeric individual. Although status-enhancing research is not necessarily objectionable from the perspective of the chimeric individual, there are grounds for objecting to it in the conditions in which it is likely to occur. Translating this ethical conclusion into a policy recommendation, however, is complicated by the (...) fact that substantial empirical and ethical uncertainties remain about which transplants, if any, would significantly enhance the chimeric individual's moral status. Considerations of moral status justify either an early-termination policy on chimeric embryos, or, in the absence of such a policy, restrictions on the introduction of pluripotent human stem cells into early-stage developing animals, pending the resolution of those uncertainties. (shrink)
Many people object to genetically engineerehd (GE) food because they believe that it is unnatural or that its creation amounts to playing God. These objections are often referred to as intrinsic objections, and they have been widely criticized in the agricultural bioethics literature as being unsound, incompatible with modern science, religious, inchoate, and based on emotion instead of reason. Many of their critics also argue that even if these objections did have some merit as ethicalobjections, their quasi-religious nature means that (...) they are entirely irrelevant when interpreted aspolitical objections regarding what public policy ought to be. In this paper, we argue that this widespread view is false. Intrinsic objections have much more political import than has previously been recognized, and indeed the requirements of political liberalism and its associated idea of liberal neutrality, once properly understood, protect intrinsic objections from many of the most common objections. That is, policy-makers may not legitimately base public policy on grounds that are inconsistent with intrinsic objections, even when they believe those objections to be flawed in the ways mentioned above. This means that in the context of a political debate about GE food, the discussion should not center on the substantive merits of the intrinsic objections themselves but rather on the appropriate political norms for achieving democratically legitimate policy on issues that touch people’s deepest religious and moral beliefs. (shrink)
This book provides a sophisticated analysis of various types of moral relativism, showing how arguments both for and against them fail to account for the basic intuitions such theories were inteded to address. Streiffer then constructs a compelling alternative model of reasons for acting which avoids the pitfalls of theories earlier discussed.