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  1. Thomas Douglas (forthcoming). Parental Partiality and the Intergenerational Transmission of Advantage. Philosophical Studies:1-22.
    Parents typically favour their own children over others’. For example, most parents invest more time and money in their own children than in other children. This parental partiality is usually regarded as morally permissible, or even obligatory, but it can have undesirable distributive effects. For example, it may create unfair or otherwise undesirable advantages for the favoured child. A number of authors have found it necessary to justify parental partiality in the face of these distributive concerns, and they have typically (...)
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  2. Thomas Douglas (forthcoming). The Morality of Moral Neuroenhancement. In Clausen Jens & Levy Neil (eds.), Handbook of Neuroethics. Springer
    This chapter reviews recent philosophical and neuroethical literature on the morality of moral neuroenhancements. It first briefly outlines the main moral arguments that have been made concerning moral status neuroenhancements. These are neurointerventions that would augment the moral status of human persons. It then surveys recent debate regarding moral desirability neuroenhancements: neurointerventions that augment that the moral desirability of human character traits, motives or conduct. This debate has contested, among other claims (i) Ingmar Persson and Julian Savulescu’s contention that there (...)
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  3. Thomas Douglas (2015). The Harms of Enhancement and the Conclusive Reasons View. Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 24 (1):23-36.
    Many critics of bioenhancement go to considerable lengths to establish the existence of reasons against pursuing bioenhancements but do little to establish the absence of reasons in favor. This suggests that they accept what Allen Buchanan has called the conclusive reasons view . According to this view, our reasons against bioenhancement are obviously decisive, so there is no need to balance them against countervailing reasons. Buchanan criticizes the CRV by showing that the reasons most commonly adduced against bioenhancement are not (...)
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  4. Chris Gyngell & Thomas Douglas (2015). Stocking the Genetic Supermarket: Reproductive Genetic Technologies and Collective Action Problems. Bioethics 29 (4):241-250.
    Reproductive genetic technologies allow parents to decide whether their future children will have or lack certain genetic predispositions. A popular model that has been proposed for regulating access to RGTs is the ‘genetic supermarket’. In the genetic supermarket, parents are free to make decisions about which genes to select for their children with little state interference. One possible consequence of the genetic supermarket is that collective action problems will arise: if rational individuals use the genetic supermarket in isolation from one (...)
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  5. Thomas Douglas (2014). Criminal Rehabilitation Through Medical Intervention: Moral Liability and the Right to Bodily Integrity. Journal of Ethics 18 (2):101-122.
    Criminal offenders are sometimes required, by the institutions of criminal justice, to undergo medical interventions intended to promote rehabilitation. Ethical debate regarding this practice has largely proceeded on the assumption that medical interventions may only permissibly be administered to criminal offenders with their consent. In this article I challenge this assumption by suggesting that committing a crime might render one morally liable to certain forms of medical intervention. I then consider whether it is possible to respond persuasively to this challenge (...)
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  6. Thomas Douglas (2014). Enhancing Moral Conformity and Enhancing Moral Worth. Neuroethics 7 (1):75-91.
    It is plausible that we have moral reasons to become better at conforming to our moral reasons. However, it is not always clear what means to greater moral conformity we should adopt. John Harris has recently argued that we have reason to adopt traditional, deliberative means in preference to means that alter our affective or conative states directly—that is, without engaging our deliberative faculties. One of Harris’ concerns about direct means is that they would produce only a superficial kind of (...)
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  7. Thomas Douglas, The Dual-Use Problem, Scientific Isolationism and the Division of Moral Labour.
    The dual-use problem is an ethical quandary sometimes faced by scientists and others in a position to influence the creation or dissemination of scientific knowledge. It arises when an agent is considering whether to pursue some project likely to result in the creation or dissemination of scientific knowledge, that knowledge could be used in both morally desirable and morally undesirable ways, and the risk of undesirable use is sufficiently high that it is not clear that the agent may permissibly pursue (...)
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  8. Thomas Douglas (2014). The Relationship Between Effort and Moral Worth: Three Amendments to Sorensen's Model. [REVIEW] Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 17 (2):325-334.
    Kelly Sorensen defends a model of the relationship between effort and moral worth in which the effort exerted in performing a morally desirable action contributes positively to the action’s moral worth, but the effort required to perform the action detracts from its moral worth. I argue that Sorensen’s model, though on the right track, is mistaken in three ways. First, it fails to capture the relevance of counterfactual effort to moral worth. Second, it wrongly implies that exerting unnecessary effort confers (...)
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  9. Will Jefferson, Thomas Douglas, Guy Kahane & Julian Savulescu (2014). Enhancement and Civic Virtue. Social Theory and Practice 40 (3):499-527.
    Opponents of biomedical enhancement frequently adopt what Allen Buchanan has called the “Personal Goods Assumption.” On this assumption, the benefits of biomedical enhancement will accrue primarily to those individuals who undergo enhancements, not to wider society. Buchanan has argued that biomedical enhancements might in fact have substantial social benefits by increasing productivity. We outline another way in which enhancements might benefit wider society: by augmenting civic virtue and thus improving the functioning of our political communities. We thus directly confront critics (...)
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  10. Neil Levy, Thomas Douglas, Guy Kahane, Sylvia Terbeck, Philip J. Cowen, Miles Hewstone & Julian Savulescu (2014). Are You Morally Modified?: The Moral Effects of Widely Used Pharmaceuticals. Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 21 (2):111-125.
  11. Neil Levy, Thomas Douglas, Guy Kahane, Sylvia Terbeck, Philip J. Cowen, Miles Hewstone & Julian Savulescu (2014). Disease, Normality, and Current Pharmacological Moral Modification. Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 21 (2):135-137.
  12. Hannah Maslen, Thomas Douglas, Roi Cohen Kadosh, Neil Levy & Julian Savulescu, The Regulation of Cognitive Enhancement Devices : Extending the Medical Model.
    This article presents a model for regulating cognitive enhancement devices . Recently, it has become very easy for individuals to purchase devices which directly modulate brain function. For example, transcranial direct current stimulators are increasingly being produced and marketed online as devices for cognitive enhancement. Despite posing risks in a similar way to medical devices, devices that do not make any therapeutic claims do not have to meet anything more than basic product safety standards. We present the case for extending (...)
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  13. Thomas Douglas (2013). Biosecurity and the Division of Cognitive Labour. Journal of Medical Ethics 39 (4):193-194.
    The last 12 years have seen historically high levels of interest in biosecurity among life scientists, science policymakers, and academic experts on science and security policy. This interest was triggered by the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the ‘anthrax letters’ attack of the same year, and two virology papers, published early last decade, that were thought to raise serious biosecurity concerns.1 Ethicists have come relatively late to the game, but, in recent years, a lively debate has developed on ethical issues raised by (...)
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  14. Thomas Douglas (2013). Enhancement, Biomedical. In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. Wiley-Blackwell
  15. Thomas Douglas (2013). Human Enhancement and Supra-Personal Moral Status. Philosophical Studies 162 (3):473-497.
    Several authors have speculated that (1) the pharmaceutical, genetic or other technological enhancement of human mental capacities could result in the creation of beings with greater moral status than persons, and (2) the creation of such beings would harm ordinary, unenhanced humans, perhaps by reducing their immunity to permissible harm. These claims have been taken to ground moral objections to the unrestrained pursuit of human enhancement. In recent work, Allen Buchanan responds to these objections by questioning both (1) and (2). (...)
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  16. Thomas Douglas (2013). Moral Enhancement Via Direct Emotion Modulation: A Reply to John Harris. Bioethics 27 (3):160-168.
    Some argue that humans should enhance their moral capacities by adopting institutions that facilitate morally good motives and behaviour. I have defended a parallel claim: that we could permissibly use biomedical technologies to enhance our moral capacities, for example by attenuating certain counter-moral emotions. John Harris has recently responded to my argument by raising three concerns about the direct modulation of emotions as a means to moral enhancement. He argues (1) that such means will be relatively ineffective in bringing about (...)
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  17. Thomas Douglas, Pieter Bonte, Farah Focquaert, Katrien Devolder & Sigrid Sterckx (2013). Coercion, Incarceration, and Chemical Castration: An Argument From Autonomy. [REVIEW] Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 10 (3):393-405.
    In several jurisdictions, sex offenders may be offered chemical castration as an alternative to further incarceration. In some, agreement to chemical castration may be made a formal condition of parole or release. In others, refusal to undergo chemical castration can increase the likelihood of further incarceration though no formal link is made between the two. Offering chemical castration as an alternative to further incarceration is often said to be partially coercive, thus rendering the offender’s consent invalid. The dominant response to (...)
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  18. Thomas Douglas & Katrien Devolder (2013). Procreative Altruism: Beyond Individualism in Reproductive Selection. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 38 (4):400-419.
    Existing debate on procreative selection focuses on the well-being of the future child. However, selection decisions can also have significant effects on the well-being of others. Moreover, these effects may run in opposing directions; some traits conducive to the well-being of the selected child may be harmful to others, whereas other traits that limit the child’s well-being may preserve or increase that of others. Prominent selection principles defended to date instruct parents to select a child, of the possible children they (...)
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  19. Thomas Douglas, Russell Powell & Julian Savulescu (2013). Is the Creation of Artificial Life Morally Significant? Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 44 (4):688-696.
    In 2010, the Venter lab announced that it had created the first bacterium with an entirely synthetic genome. This was reported to be the first instance of ‘artificial life,’ and in the ethical and policy discussions that followed it was widely assumed that the creation of artificial life is in itself morally significant. We cast doubt on this assumption. First we offer an account of the creation of artificial life that distinguishes this from the derivation of organisms from existing life (...)
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  20. Thomas Douglas (2010). Intertemporal Disagreement and Empirical Slippery Slope Arguments. Utilitas 22 (2):184-197.
    One prevalent type of slippery slope argument has the following form: (1) by doing some initial act now, we will bring it about that we subsequently do some more extreme version of this act, and (2) we should not bring it about that we do this further act, therefore (3) we should not do the initial act. Such arguments are frequently regarded as mistaken, often on the grounds that they rely on speculative or insufficiently strong empirical premises. In this article (...)
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  21. Thomas Douglas (2010). Should Institutions Prioritize Rectification Over Aid? Philosophical Quarterly 60 (241):698-717.
    Should an institutional scheme prioritize the rectification or compensation of harms it has wrongfully caused over provision of aid to persons it has not harmed? Some who think so rely on an analogy with the view that persons should give higher priority to rectification than to aid. Inference from the personal view to the institutional view would be warranted if either (i) the correct moral principles for institutional assessment are nearest possible equivalents of the correct personal moral principles, or (ii) (...)
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  22. Simon Rippon, Pablo Stafforini, Katrien Devolder, Russell Powell & Thomas Douglas (2010). Resisting Sparrow's Sexy Reductio : Selection Principles and the Social Good. American Journal of Bioethics 10 (7):16-18.
    Principles of procreative beneficence (PPBs) hold that parents have good reasons to select the child with the best life prospects. Sparrow (2010) claims that PPBs imply that we should select only female children, unlesswe attach normative significance to “normal” human capacities. We argue that this claim fails on both empirical and logical grounds. Empirically, Sparrow’s argument for greater female wellbeing rests on a selective reading of the evidence and the incorrect assumption that an advantage for females would persist even when (...)
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  23. Thomas Douglas (2009). Medical Injury Compensation: Beyond 'No-Fault'. Medical Law Review 17:30-51.
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  24. Ram Madapulli, Robyn Berkley, Thomas Douglas, George W. Watson & Yuping Zeng (2009). Are Past Normative Behaviors Predictive of Future Behavioral Intentions? Ethics and Behavior 19 (5):414-431.
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  25. Thomas Douglas (2008). Moral Enhancement. Journal of Applied Philosophy 25 (3):228-245.
    Opponents of biomedical enhancement often claim that, even if such enhancement would benefit the enhanced, it would harm others. But this objection looks unpersuasive when the enhancement in question is a moral enhancement — an enhancement that will expectably leave the enhanced person with morally better motives than she had previously. In this article I (1) describe one type of psychological alteration that would plausibly qualify as a moral enhancement, (2) argue that we will, in the medium-term future, probably be (...)
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  26. Dominic Wilkinson & Thomas Douglas (2008). Consequentialism and the Death Penalty. American Journal of Bioethics 8 (10):56-58.
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  27. Thomas Douglas (2007). Enhancement in Sport, and Enhancement Outside Sport. Studies in Ethics, Law, and Technology 1 (1).
    Sport is one of the first areas in which enhancement has become commonplace. It is also one of the first areas in which the use of enhancement technologies has been heavily regulated. Some have thus seen sport as a testing ground for arguments about whether to permit enhancement. However, I argue that there are fairness-based objections to enhancement in sport that do not apply as strongly in some other areas of human activity. Thus, I claim that there will often be (...)
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  28. Thomas Douglas (2007). Ethics Committees and the Legality of Research. Journal of Medical Ethics 33 (12):732-736.
    One role of research ethics committees is to assess the ethics of proposed health research. In some countries, RECs are also instructed to assess its legality. However, in other countries they are explicitly instructed not to do so. In this paper, I defend the claim that public policy should instruct RECs not to assess the legality of proposed research . I initially defend a presumption in favour of the Claim, citing reasons for making research institutions solely responsible for assessing the (...)
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  29. George W. Watson, Joseph Michlitsch & Thomas Douglas (2007). Patterned Moral Behavior. Proceedings of the International Association for Business and Society 18:87-92.
    We posit that the weight a person assigns a moral principle is not stable between ideal, or un-contextual assessments and the weight the same moral principle is allocated when applied in a contextual dilemma. Second, we postulate that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior or judgment. Results indicate that the importance of moral principles is dynamic and that patterned moral behavior is a significant predictor of moral judgments.
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  30. Judith Boss, Giordano Bruno, Vere Chappell, John Cottingham, Peter A. Danielson, Rene Descartes, Thomas Douglas, John Finis, R. J. Hollingdale & Vittorio Hösle (1999). Boss, Judith and James M. Nuzum. Teaching Philosophy 22 (2):237.
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