The relatively new practice of continuous sedation at the end of life (CS) is increasingly being debated in the clinical and ethical literature. This practice received much attention when a U.S. Supreme Court ruling noted that the availability of CS made legalization of physician-assisted suicide (PAS) unnecessary, as CS could alleviate even the most severe suffering. This view has been widely adopted. In this article, we perform an in-depth analysis of four versions of this ?argument of preferable alternative.? Our goal (...) is to determine the extent to which CS can be considered to be an alternative to PAS and to identify the grounds, if any, on which CS may be ethically preferable to PAS. (shrink)
Surveys in different countries (e.g. the UK, Belgium and The Netherlands) show a marked recent increase in the incidence of continuous deep sedation at the end of life (CDS). Several hypotheses can be formulated to explain the increasing performance of this practice. In this paper we focus on what we call the ‘natural death’ hypothesis, i.e. the hypothesis that acceptance of CDS has spread rapidly because death after CDS can be perceived as a ‘natural’ death by medical practitioners, patients' relatives (...) and patients.We attempt to show that the label ‘natural’ cannot be unproblematically applied to the nature of this end-of-life practice. We argue that the labeling of death following CDS as ‘natural’ death is related to a complex set of mechanisms which facilitate the use of this practice. However, our criticism does not preclude the view that CDS may be clinically and ethically justified in many cases. (shrink)
This paper offers a few elements of an answer to the question to what extent drug patents can be morally justified. Justifications based on natural rights, distributive justice and utilitarian arguments are discussed and criticized. The author recognizes the potential of the patents to benefit society but argues that the system is currently evolving in the wrong direction, particularly in the field of drugs. More than a third of the world’s population has no access to essential drugs. The working of (...) the patent system is an important determinant of access to drugs. This paper argues that drug patents are not easily justified and that the ‘architecture’ of the patent system should be rethought in view of its mission of benefiting society. (shrink)
Since the 1980s in the US and the 1990s in Europe, patenting and licensing activities by universities have massively increased. This is strongly encouraged by governments throughout the Western world. Many regard academic patenting as essential to achieve ‘knowledge transfer’ from academia to industry. This trend has far-reaching consequences for access to the fruits of academic research and so the question arises whether the current policies are indeed promoting innovation or whether they are instead a symptom of a pro-intellectual property (...) (IP) culture which is blind to adverse effects. Addressing this question requires both empirical analysis (how real is the link between academic patenting and licensing and ‘development’ of academic research by industry?) and normative assessment (which justifications are given for the current policies and to what extent do they threaten important academic values?). After illustrating the major rise of academic patenting and licensing in the US and Europe and commenting on the increasing trend of ‘upstream’ patenting and the focus on exclusive as opposed to non-exclusive licences, this paper will discuss five negative effects of these trends. Subsequently, the question as to why policymakers seem to ignore these adverse effects will be addressed. Finally, a number of proposals for improving university policies will be made. (shrink)
On 19 December 2008 the Official Journal of Belgium published the ‘Law regarding the procurement and use of human body material destined for human medical applications or for scientific research purposes’. This paper will comment on various aspects of the Law: its scope of application (what is understood by ‘body material’?); its concept of ‘residual human body material’ (with far-reaching implications for the type of consent required for research); the nature of actions with and uses of human body material that (...) are explicitly prohibited; the right of donors to be informed of relevant information revealed by the use of their body material; and the special responsibilities placed on hospital ethics committees. As will be argued in this paper, several of these provisions are highly problematic from an ethical point of view, especially those relating to consent. Meanwhile, the Minister of Public Health has asked the Belgian Advisory Committee on Bioethics for advice on the incorporation of the ‘presumed consent’ model, that applies to post mortem organ donation, into the biobank Law’s provisions on post mortem removal and use of body material. This aspect of the Law effectively extends the ‘presumed consent’ regime, both from organs to body material in general, and from therapeutic uses to research uses. (shrink)
With the case of Belgium as a negative example, this paper will evaluate the legitimacy of using mentally incompetents as organ sources. The first section examines the underlying moral dilemma that results from the necessity of balancing the principle of respect for persons with the obligation to help people in desperate need. We argue for the rejection of a radical utilitarian approach but also question the appropriateness of a categorical prohibition. Section two aims to strike a fair balance between the (...) competing interests at stake and to define the conditions under which organ harvest from mentally incompetents might be morally acceptable. To this end, we morally assess the main requirements that have been put forward to allow organ removal from incompetent donors. We conclude that the current Belgian legislation is far too permissive and that national regulations that do not permit the harvest of non-regenerable organs from mentally incompetents in exceptional circumstances are too restrictive. On the basis of this discussion, we propose a number of guiding principles for decision-making in this area. (shrink)
Attempts to justify the patent system can be based on three grounds: (1) natural rights; (2) distributive justice; and (3) utilitarian (economic) arguments. Each of these arguments is problematic in many ways. The first two are dealt with very briefly. The utilitarian argument is discussed more in depth.
This article aims to open up the biographical black box of three experts working in the boundary zone between science, policy and public debate. A biographical-narrative approach is used to analyse the roles played by the virologists Albert Osterhaus, Roel Coutinho and Jaap Goudsmit in policy and public debate. These figures were among the few leading virologists visibly active in the Netherlands during the revival of infectious diseases in the 1980s. Osterhaus and Coutinho in particular are still the key (...) figures today, as demonstrated during the outbreak of novel influenza A (H1N1). This article studies the various political and communicative challenges and dilemmas encountered by these three virologists, and discusses the way in which, strategically or not, they handled those challenges and dilemmas during the various stages of the field’s recent history. Important in this respect is their pursuit of a public role that is both effective and credible. We will conclude with a reflection on the H1N1 pandemic, and the historical and biographical ties between emerging governance arrangements and the experts involved in the development of such arrangements. (shrink)
The potential role of locus equations in three existing models of human classification behavior is examined. Locus equations can play a useful role in single-prototype and boundary-based models for human consonant recognition by reducing model complexity.
Differential academic language proficiency is an issue of major educational concern, bearing on problems varying from pupil performance, to social prospects, and citizenship. In this paper we develop a conception of the language-acquiring subject, and we discuss the consequences for understanding differential language proficiency in schools. Starting from Wittgenstein's meaning-as-use theory we show that learning a language requires an activity that relates the subject both to the community of language users, and to the things language is about. In opposition to (...) Luntley, we contend that this does not mean that linguistic development involves linguistic adjustment to the world 'as it is'. It is argued that, in as far as linguistic development involves a process of adjustment, this concerns conceptions about the world as it is presupposed to be—a 'world' that is subjected to doubt and revision time and again. With respect to dealing with differential academic language proficiency, this approach to linguistic development suggests bringing pupils into situations which require active participation in processes of 'negotiating meaning', including negotiating the prevailing presuppositions about what the world is like. This also puts novices in a different position—less assimilatory—recognising their co-constructive potencies at a more fundamental level. (shrink)
Understanding the evangelical framework for business ethics is important, since business evangelicals are well positioned to exercise considerable future influence. This article develops the context for understanding evangelical business ethics by examining their history, theology and culture. It then relates the findings to evangelical foundations for business ethics. The thesis is that business ethics, as practiced by those in the evangelical community, has developed inductively from a base of applied experience. As a result, emphases on piety, witnessing, tithing, and neighborliness, (...) important foundations in the evangelical model for business ethics, have resulted in a multitude of applied ethical strategies. This operative ethics model is then evaluated, particularly in regarding to its limited focus on the fundamental purposes and structures of business. The article concludes with several recommended sources which can enrich the evangelical tradition of business ethics, suggesting many resources from the Reformed Christian tradition as well as other ideas from contemporary Protestant and Catholic thinkers. (shrink)