Deep brain stimulation has been of considerable interest to bioethicists, in large part because of the effects that the intervention can occasionally have on central features of the recipient’s personality. These effects raise questions regarding the philosophical concept of authenticity. In this article, we expand on our earlier work on the concept of authenticity in the context of deep brain stimulation by developing a diachronic, value-based account of authenticity. Our account draws on both existentialist and essentialist approaches to authenticity, and (...) Laura Waddell Ekstrom’s coherentist approach to personal autonomy. In developing our account, we respond to Sven Nyholm and Elizabeth O’Neill’s synchronic approach to authenticity, and explain how the diachronic approach we defend can have practical utility, contrary to Alexandre Erler and Tony Hope’s criticism of autonomy-based approaches to authenticity. Having drawn a distinction between the authenticity of an individual’s traits and the authenticity of that person’s values, we consider how our conception of authenticity applies to the context of anorexia nervosa in comparison to other prominent accounts of authenticity. We conclude with some reflections on the prudential value of authenticity, and by highlighting how the language of authenticity can be invoked to justify covert forms of paternalism that run contrary to the value of individuality that seems to be at the heart of authenticity. (shrink)
“Bioconservatives” in the human enhancement debate endorse the conservative claim that we should reject the use of biotechnologies that enhance natural human capacities. However, they often ground their objections to enhancement with contestable claims about human nature that are also in tension with other common tenets of conservatism. We argue that bioconservatives could raise a more plausible objection to enhancement by invoking a strain of conservative thought developed by G.A. Cohen. Although Cohen’s conservatism is not sufficient to fully revive the (...) bioconservative objection, we argue that it can be supplemented by an account of reasonable partiality for humanity in a way that provides further support to the bioconservative position in a manner congruous with broader conservatism. We propose that the idea of partiality to humanity can buttress the bioconservative objection into its strongest possible form. However, we conclude by arguing that, even in this form, the objection cannot do all the work that bioconservatives expect of it. (shrink)
An abundance of data unequivocally shows that exercise can be an effective tool in the fight against obesity and its associated co-morbidities. Indeed, physical activity can be more effective than widely-used pharmaceutical interventions. Whilst metformin reduces the incidence of diabetes by 31% (as compared with a placebo) in both men and women across different racial and ethnic groups, lifestyle intervention (including exercise) reduces the incidence by 58%. In this context, it is notable that a group of prominent medics and exercise (...) scientists recently sent a well-publicised letter to the General Medical Council and Medical Schools Council calling for the introduction of evidence-based lifestyle education into all medical curricula. The letter warns that there is a lack of understanding of the impact that exercise and nutrition can have on physical health amongst doctors. In the absence of an educational overhaul, the signatories warn that the government is likely to fail to reach its goal of preventing tens of thousands of premature deaths from heart disease and cancer by 2020. Whilst we agree with the need to address this apparent lack of understanding, we argue that the ethical justification of doing so is not limited to this broadly beneficence-based justification. There is also a justification grounded in the duty of non-maleficence, that is, the duty to avoid unreasonably harming patients. This duty requires that doctors refrain from (i) preventing patients from undergoing beneficial treatment without good reason, (ii) exposing patients to unreasonable risks and (iii) reducing the therapeutic effect of an effective medical intervention. This requires an understanding of the physical impact of exercise. (shrink)
There is preliminary evidence, from case reports and investigational studies, to suggest that Deep Brain Stimulation could be used to treat some patients with Anorexia Nervosa. Although this research is at an early stage, the invasive nature of the intervention and the vulnerability of the potential patients are such that anticipatory ethical analysis is warranted. In this paper, we first show how different treatment mechanisms raise different philosophical and ethical questions. We distinguish three potential mechanisms alluded to in the neuroscientific (...) literature, relating to desire, control, and emotion, respectively. We explain why the precise nature of the mechanism has important implications for the patient’s autonomy and personal identity. In the second part of the paper, we consider practical dimensions of offering DBS to patients with AN in certain cases. We first discuss some limited circumstances where the mere offering of the intervention might be perceived as exerting a degree of coercive pressure that could serve to undermine the validity of the patient’s consent. Finally, we consider the implications of potential effects of DBS for the authenticity of the patient’s choice to continue using stimulation to ameliorate their condition. (shrink)
Deep Brain Stimulation is currently being investigated as an experimental treatment for patients suffering from treatment-refractory AN, with an increasing number of case reports and small-scale trials published. Although still at an exploratory and experimental stage, initial results have been promising. Despite the risks associated with an invasive neurosurgical procedure and the long-term implantation of a foreign body, DBS has a number of advantageous features for patients with SE-AN. Stimulation can be fine-tuned to the specific needs of the particular patient, (...) is relatively reversible, and the technique also allows for the crucial issue of investigating and comparing the effects of different neural targets. However, at a time when DBS is emerging as a promising investigational treatment modality for AN, lesioning procedures in psychiatry are having a renaissance. Of concern it has been argued that the two kinds of interventions should instead be understood as rivaling, yet “mutually enriching paradigms” despite the fact that lesioning the brain is irreversible and there is no evidence base for an effective target in AN. We argue that lesioning procedures in AN are unethical at this stage of knowledge and seriously problematic for this patient group, for whom self-control is particularly central to wellbeing. They pose a greater risk of major harms that cannot justify ethical equipoise, despite the apparent superiority in reduced short term surgical harms and lower cost. (shrink)
According to a number of influential views in penal theory, 1 one of the primary goals of the criminal justice system is to rehabilitate offenders. Rehabilitativemeasures are commonly included as a part of a criminal sentence. For example, in some jurisdictions judges may order violent offenders to attend anger management classes or to undergo cognitive behavioural therapy as a part of their sentences. In a limited number of cases, neurointerventions — interventions that exert a direct biological effect on the brain (...) — have been used as aids to rehabilitation, typically being imposed as part of criminal sentences, separate treatment orders, or conditions of parole. Examples of such interventions include medications intended to attenuate addictive desires in substance-abusing offenders and agents intended to suppress libido in sex offenders.This chapter reviews some of the ethical issues raised by the use of neurointerventions as aids to rehabilitation. (shrink)
Under the current Mental Health Act of England and Wales, it is lawful to perform deep brain stimulation in the absence of consent and independent approval. We argue against the Care Quality Commission's preferred strategy of addressing this problematic issue, and offer recommendations for deep brain stimulation-specific provisions in a revised Mental Health Act.
The publication of the first study to use gene editing techniques in human embryos (Liang et al., 2015) has drawn outrage from many in the scientific community. The prestigious scientific journals Nature and Science have published commentaries which call for this research to be strongly discouraged or halted all together (Lanphier et al., 2015; Baltimore et al., 2015). We believe this should be questioned. There is a moral imperative to continue this research.
Background -/- Innovative neurosurgical treatments present a number of known risks, the natures and probabilities of which can be adequately communicated to patients via the standard procedures governing obtaining informed consent. However, due to their novelty, these treatments also come with unknown risks, which require an augmented approach to obtaining informed consent. -/- Objective -/- This paper aims to discuss and provide concrete procedural guidance on the ethical issues raised by serious unexpected complications of novel deep brain stimulation treatments. -/- (...) Approach -/- We illustrate our analysis using a case study of the unexpected development of recurrent stereotyped events in patients following the use of deep brain stimulation (DBS) to treat severe chronic pain. Examining these unexpected complications in light of medical ethical principles, we argue that serious complications of novel DBS treatments do not necessarily make it unethical to offer the intervention to eligible patients. However, the difficulty the clinician faces in determining whether the intervention is in the patient's best interests generates reasons to take extra steps to promote the autonomous decision making of these patients. -/- Conclusion and recommendations -/- We conclude with clinical recommendations, including details of an augmented consent process for novel DBS treatment. (shrink)
A central tenet of medical ethics holds that it is permissible to perform a medical intervention on a competent individual only if that individual has given informed consent to the intervention. However, in some circumstances it is tempting to say that the moral reason to obtain informed consent prior to administering a medical intervention is outweighed. For example, if an individual’s refusal to undergo a medical intervention would lead to the transmission of a dangerous infectious disease to other members of (...) the community, one might claim that it would be morally permissible to administer the intervention even in the absence of consent. Indeed, as we shall discuss below, there are a number of examples of public health authorities implementing compulsory or coercive measures for the purposes of infectious disease control (IDC). The plausibility of the thought that non-consensual medical interventions might be justified when performed for the purpose of IDC raises the question of whether such interventions might permissibly be used to realize other public goods. In this article we focus on one possibility: whether it could be permissible to non-consensually impose certain interventions that alter brain states or processes through chemical or physical means on serious criminal offenders. We shall suggest that some such interventions might be permissible if they safely and effectively serve to facilitate the offender’s rehabilitation and thereby prevent criminal recidivism. (shrink)
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is frequently described as a ‘reversible’ medical treatment, and the reversibility of DBS is often cited as an important reason for preferring it to brain lesioning procedures as a last resort treatment modality for patients suffering from treatment-refractory conditions. Despite its widespread acceptance, the claim that DBS is reversible has recently come under attack. Critics have pointed out that data are beginning to suggest that there can be non-stimulation-dependent effects of DBS. Furthermore, we lack long-term data (...) about other potential irreversible effects of neuromodulation. This has considerable normative implications for comparisons of DBS and brain lesioning procedures. Indeed, Devan Stahl and colleagues have recently argued that psychiatric DBS should be subject to the same legal safeguards as other forms of psychosurgery, supporting their position by forcibly criticising the claim that DBS is reversible. In this paper, I respond to these criticisms by first clarifying the descriptive and evaluative elements of the reversibility claim that supporters of DBS might invoke, and the different senses of ‘reversibility’ that we might employ in discussing the effects of medical procedures. I go on to suggest that it is possible to defend a nuanced version of the reversibility claim. To do so, I explain how DBS has some effects that are stimulation dependent in the short term, and argue that these effects can have significant normative implications for patient well-being and autonomy. I conclude that we should not abandon a nuanced version of the reversibility claim in the DBS debate. (shrink)
According to what Douglas calls ‘the consent requirement’, neuro-correctives can only permissibly be provided with the valid consent of the offender who will undergo the intervention. Some of those who endorse the consent requirement have claimed that even though the requirement prohibits the imposition of mandatory neurocorrectives on criminal offenders, it may yet be permissible to offer offenders the opportunity to consent to undergoing such an intervention, in return for a reduction to their penal sentence. I call this the neurocorrective (...) offer. In this chapter I consider the coercion-based objection to the neurocorrective offer, which claims that offenders cannot provide valid consent to undergoing a neurocorrective on the basis of this offer because it is inherently coercive. Having outlined early formulations of this argument, I point out that there are in fact two different versions of this objection, which appeal to different understandings of the concepts of coercion, consent and voluntariness. (shrink)
In medical ethics, we are often concerned with questions that pertain predominantly to the treatment of a particular individual. However, in a number of cases it is crucial to broaden the scope of our moral inquiry beyond consideration of the individual alone, since the interests of the individual can come into conflict with the interests of the wider community. How should we resolve such conflicts between the interests of the individual and the collective? Most readers of this journal will likely (...) be familiar with the moral theory ‘classical utilitarianism’, which enjoins us to bring about the greatest happiness for the greatest number. This theory offers straightforward guidance in such conflicts, since it will typically be the case that the interests of the many will outweigh the interests of the individual in the utilitarian’s moral calculus. However, the simplicity of this approach is typically understood to be an inadequacy of the theory rather than an appropriate solution to these conflicts; contrary to the implications of classic utilitarianism, we would not believe it permissible to kill one innocent person in order to harvest life-saving organs for five others. Of course, adherents of utilitarianism have responded to this sort of problem by refining the theory in various ways. However, one may invoke different kinds of moral apparatus in order to navigate conflicts between the individual and the collective. In this issue, a number of papers engage with moral concepts that are central to different approaches to navigating these conflicts in practical debates. While it may clearly be in the interests of the collective to restrict the transmission of a dangerous infectious pathogen, methods of achieving this aim can be contrary to the interests of the particular individuals targeted by the intervention. Consider quarantine measures; in quarantine, individuals who are merely suspected of carrying …. (shrink)
A prominent objection to non-cognitive moral bio-enhancements is that they would compromise the recipient’s ‘freedom to fall’. I begin by discussing some ambiguities in this objection, before outlining an Aristotelian reading of it. I suggest that this reading may help to forestall Persson and Savulescu’s ‘God-Machine’ criticism; however, I suggest that the objection still faces the problem of explaining why the value of moral conformity is insufficient to outweigh the value of the freedom to fall itself. I also question whether (...) the objection is compatible with Neil Levy’s parity principle. Accordingly, I go on to consider an alternative relational freedom-based objection to NCMBEs that aims to explain the fundamental moral importance of the freedom that NCMBEs would violate. I argue that although this strategy might allow the critic of NCMBEs to bypass a powerful criticism of Harris’ objection, it also weakens the freedom-based objection’s compatibility with the parity principle. (shrink)
In an intriguing essay, G. A. Cohen has defended a conservative bias in favour of existing value. In this paper, we consider whether Cohen’s conservatism raises a new challenge to the use of human enhancement technologies. We develop some of Cohen’s suggestive remarks into a new line of argument against human enhancement that, we believe, is in several ways superior to existing objections. However, we shall argue that on closer inspection, Cohen’s conservatism fails to offer grounds for a strong sweeping (...) objection to enhancement, and may even offer positive support for forms of enhancement that preserve valuable features of human beings. Nevertheless, we concede that Cohen’s arguments may suggest some plausible and important constraints on the modality of legitimate and desirable enhancements. (shrink)
In a recent article in this journal, Schaefer et al. argue that it might be possible to enhance autonomy through the use of cognitive enhancements. In this article, I highlight an example that Schaefer et al. do not acknowledge of a way in which we already seem to be using pharmacological agents in a manner that can be understood as enhancing an agent’s autonomy. To make this argument, I begin by following other theorists in the philosophical literature in claiming that (...) impulsivity can serve to undermine an agent’s autonomy. I then explain that we are already able to reduce impulsivity through the use of pharmacological interventions, as is evidenced by the use of Methylphenidate in the treatment of ADHD. (shrink)
Müller and colleagues (2015) address a range of ethical considerations associated with neurosurgical interventions for the treatment of anorexia nervosa (AN), arguing for several protective measures to safeguard clinical research and practice. This is an important article, which provides a thorough review of current neurosurgical research and presents key insights into challenges associated with compromised decision-making capacities in the context of AN and the early average age of onset. However, it is somewhat striking that they neither use nor examine the (...) concept of authenticity. We describe the way this concept features in discussions of AN, and suggest that a deeper understanding of authenticity reveals further ethical problems that Müller and colleagues do not consider. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that deceptive placebo use can be morally permissible, on the grounds that the deception involved in the prescription of deceptive placebos can differ in kind to the sorts of deception that undermine personal autonomy. In order to argue this, I shall first delineate two accounts of why deception is inimical to autonomy. On these accounts, deception is understood to be inimical to the deceived agent’s autonomy because it either involves subjugating the deceived agent’s will to (...) another’s authority or because it precludes the agent from acting effectively in pursuit of their ends. I shall argue that providing an agent with false beliefs is not inimical to their autonomy if they are only able to effectively pursue their autonomously chosen ends by virtue of holding those particular false beliefs. Finally, I show that deceptive placebo use need only involve this latter sort of deception. (shrink)
Gilbert et al. have raised important questions about the empirical grounding of neuroethical analyses of the apparent phenomenon of Deep Brain Stimulation ‘causing’ personality changes. In this paper, we consider how to make neuroethical claims appropriately calibrated to existing evidence, and the role that philosophical neuroethics has to play in this enterprise of ‘evidence-based neuroethics’. In the first half of the paper, we begin by highlighting the challenges we face in investigating changes to PIAAAS following DBS, explaining how different trial (...) designs may be of different degrees of utility, depending on how changes to PIAAAS following DBS are manifested. In particular, we suggest that the trial designs Gilbert et al. call for may not be able to tell us whether or not DBS directly causes changes to personality. However, we suggest that this is not the most significant question about this phenomenon; the most significant question is whether these changes should matter morally, however they are caused. We go on to suggest that neuroethical analyses of novel neuro-interventions should be carried out in accordance with the levels of evidence hierarchy outlined by the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, and explain different ways in which neuroethical analyses of changes to PIAAAS can be evidence-based on this framework. In the second half of the paper, we explain how philosophical neuroethics can play an important role in contributing to mechanism-based reasoning about potential effects on PIAAAS following DBS, a form of evidence that is also incorporated into the CEBM levels of evidence hierarchy. (shrink)
Violence risk assessment tools are increasingly used within criminal justice and forensic psychiatry, however there is little relevant, reliable and unbiased data regarding their predictive accuracy. We argue that such data are needed to (i) prevent excessive reliance on risk assessment scores, (ii) allow matching of different risk assessment tools to different contexts of application, (iii) protect against problematic forms of discrimination and stigmatisation, and (iv) ensure that contentious demographic variables are not prematurely removed from risk assessment tools.
Mosquito-borne diseases represent a significant global disease burden, and recent outbreaks of such diseases have led to calls to reduce mosquito populations. Furthermore, advances in ‘gene-drive’ technology have raised the prospect of eradicating certain species of mosquito via genetic modification. This technology has attracted a great deal of media attention, and the idea of using gene-drive technology to eradicate mosquitoes has been met with criticism in the public domain. In this paper, I shall dispel two moral objections that have been (...) raised in the public domain against the use of gene-drive technologies to eradicate mosquitoes. The first objection invokes the concept of the ‘sanctity of life’ in order to claim that we should not drive an animal to extinction. In response, I follow Peter Singer in raising doubts about general appeals to the sanctity of life, and argue that neither individual mosquitoes nor mosquitoes species considered holistically are appropriately described as bearing a significant degree of moral status. The second objection claims that seeking to eradicate mosquitoes amounts to displaying unacceptable degrees of hubris. Although I argue that this objection also fails, I conclude by claiming that it raises the important point that we need to acquire more empirical data about, inter alia, the likely effects of mosquito eradication on the ecosystem, and the likelihood of gene-drive technology successfully eradicating the intended mosquito species, in order to adequately inform our moral analysis of gene-drive technologies in this context. (shrink)
In his discussion of in vitrogametogenesis, Rob Sparrow claims that an ethical barrier to development of this technology is that many jurisdictions currently prohibit the practice of creating embryos solely for the purpose of research. However, he suggests that this ethical barrier will soon be eroded, in view of the fact that in vitro gametogenesis could serve as a powerful new technology to overcome infertility. In this commentary, I argue that Sparrow is being overly optimistic in his analysis here. I (...) claim that the debate over so-called compromise positions in the human embryonic stem cell debate suggests that the purpose of the research for which a research embryo is created is unlikely to be considered as having any significant bearing on the moral permissibility of the practice for those who oppose it. Even though in vitro gametogenesis could serve as a powerful new technology to overcome infertility, I argue that opponents of the practice of creating embryos solely for research purposes would still view the creation of research embryos that the development of in vitro gametogenesis would require, as being incompatible with affording the embryo proper moral respect. I conclude by suggesting that Sparrow's analysis of the potential benefits of in vitro gametogenesis provides us with further reasons to scrutinise the unconvincing arguments that are often cited in favour of prohibiting the practice of creating embryos solely for research purposes. (shrink)
Jurgen Habermas has argued that carrying out pre-natal germline enhancements would be inimical to the future child's autonomy. In this article, I suggest that many of the objections that have been made against Habermas' arguments by liberals in the enhancement debate misconstrue his claims. To explain why, I begin by explaining how Habermas' view of personal autonomy confers particular importance to the agent's embodiment and social environment. In view of this, I explain that it is possible to draw two arguments (...) against germline enhancements from Habermas' thought. I call these arguments ‘the argument from negative freedom’ and ‘the argument from natality’. Although I argue that many of the common liberal objections to Habermas are not applicable when his arguments are properly understood, I go on to suggest ways in which supporters of enhancement might appropriately respond to Habermas' arguments. (shrink)
In many jurisdictions, an offender’s remorse is considered to be a relevant factor to take into account in mitigation at sentencing. The growing philosophical interest in the use of neurointerventions in criminal justice raises an important question about such remorse-based mitigation: to what extent should technologically facilitated remorse be honoured such that it is permitted the same penal significance as standard instances of remorse? To motivate this question, we begin by sketching a tripartite account of remorse that distinguishes cognitive, affective (...) and motivational elements of remorse. We then describe a number of neurointerventions that might plausibly be used to enhance abilities that are relevant to these different elements of remorse. Having described what we term the ‘moral value’ view of the justification of remorse-based mitigation, we then consider whether using neurointerventions to facilitate remorse would undermine its moral value, and thus make it inappropriate to honour such remorse in the criminal justice system. We respond to this question by claiming that the form of moral understanding that is incorporated into a genuinely remorseful response grounds remorse’s moral value. In view of this claim, we conclude by arguing that neurointerventions need not undermine remorse’s moral value on this approach, and that the remorse that such interventions might facilitate could also be authentic to the recipient of the neurointerventions that we discuss. (shrink)
Background: There is a lack of empirical data on lay attitudes toward different sorts of deception in medicine. However, lay attitudes toward deception should be taken into account when we consider whether deception is ever permissible in a medical context. The objective of this study was to examine lay attitudes of U.S. citizens toward different sorts of deception across different medical contexts. Methods: A one-time online survey was administered to U.S. users of the Amazon “Mechanical Turk” website. Participants were asked (...) to answer questions regarding a series of vignettes depicting different sorts of deception in medical care, as well as a question regarding their general attitudes toward truth-telling. Results: Of the 200 respondents, the majority found the use of placebos in different contexts to be acceptable following partial disclosure but found it to be unacceptable if it involved outright lying. Also, 55.5% of respondents supported the use of sham surgery in clinical research, although 55% claimed that it would be unacceptable to deceive patients in this research, even if this would improve the quality of the data from the study. Respondents supported fully informing patients about distressing medical information in different contexts, especially when the patient is suffering from a chronic condition. In addition, 42.5% of respondents believed that it is worse to deceive someone by providing the person with false information than it is to do so by giving the person true information that is likely to lead them to form a false belief, without telling them other important information that shows it to be false. However, 41.5% believed that the two methods of deception were morally equivalent. Conclusions: Respondents believed that some forms of deception were acceptable in some circumstances. While the majority of our respondents opposed outright lying in medical contexts, they were prepared to support partial disclosure and the use of placebos when it is in the patient's interests or when it is what the person would want. These results support the position that physicians should be allowed a greater degree of authority to make a professional judgment about whether deception might be morally warranted by the circumstances, provided that it doesn't involve outright lying. (shrink)
Methadone maintenance therapy is a cost-effective, evidence-based treatment for heroin dependence. In the USA, a majority of heroin-dependent offenders are forced to detox from methadone when incarcerated. Recent research published in The Lancet has demonstrated the negative health and economic outcomes associated with such policies. Methadone Continuation Versus Forced Withdrawal on Incarceration in a Combined US Prison and Jail: A Randomised, Open Label Trial. The Lancet, 386, 350–359). This novel evidence raises questions as to the justification for current policies of (...) forced detox in American prisons. Opponents of methadone provision in prisons might offer arguments from retributivism, resource allocation and curative effectiveness to justify their position. This article contends that these arguments do not stand up to ethical scrutiny. In light of this, we hold that American policymakers should reform criminal justice policies to allow the initiation and continuation of methadone treatment in correctional settings. This would be consistent with both international recommendations and the example set by a number of other Western countries. (shrink)
The debate concerning the moral permissibility of using human embryos in human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research has long centred on the question of the embryo's supposed right to life. However, in focussing only on this question, many opponents to hESC research have escaped rigorous scrutiny by making vague and unfounded appeals to the concept of moral respect in order to justify their opposition to certain hESC practices. In this paper, I offer a critical analysis of the concept of moral (...) respect, and its use to support the intuitively appealing principle of proportionality in hESC research. I argue that if proponents of this principle are to justify its adoption by appealing to the concept of moral respect, they must explain two things concerning the nature of the moral respect owed to embryos. First, they must explain which particular aspect of the embryo is morally relevant, and why. Second, they must explain why some uses of embryos in research fail to acknowledge what is morally relevant about the embryo, and thereby involve a violation of the moral respect that they are due. I shall show that providing such explanations may be more difficult than it first appears. (shrink)
In this response piece, I argue that the ‘coercive paternalism’ that Sarah Conly endorses in her book Against Autonomy veers towards a back-door perfectionism. Although Conly points out that coercive paternalism does not mandate the imposition of alien values upon us in the same way that perfectionism does, I argue that coercive paternalism might yet impose an alien weighting of our own values; this, I suggest, means that coercive paternalism remains perfectionist in spirit, if not in letter. I go on (...) to concede to Conly that coercive paternalism might be warranted in preventing actions that threaten health and that are only carried out on the basis of cognitive error. However, I conclude by claiming that we must take great care about what we presume that people are consuming only on the basis of cognitive error. More specifically, I suggest that it is crucial that we avoid defining our terms in such a manner that it becomes impossible for agents to choose some action that poses a risk to their health without them being accused of making a cognitive error in weighing their values in that way. (shrink)
The compromise position concerning the moral permissibility of different forms of human embryonic stem cell research has two commitments. The first commitment of this position is that it is morally permissible to derive hESCs from unwanted IVF embryos, despite the fact that this process involves the destruction of these embryos. The second commitment of this position is that it is morally impermissible to create human embryos for the sole purpose of destroying them in order to harvest their hESCs. I argue (...) that this compromise position concerning the moral permissibility of different forms of hESC research is theoretically tenable, but unappealing. In order to do so, I first claim that although it may be morally permissible to destroy embryos insofar as they do not have a right to life, it can still be coherent to view them as deserving moral respect. I then argue that one may plausibly view the practice of deriving hESCs from unwanted IVF embryos as being compatible with affording the embryo proper moral respect, whilst also maintaining that creating embryos for the sole purpose of destroying them in order to harvest their hESCs is incompatible with affording this respect. However, although I argue that one may plausibly adopt the compromise position in view of this moral difference between the two forms of hESC research, I also suggest that the compromise position is unappealing. My justification for this conclusion is that there are good reasons to support the claim that therapeutic cloning is morally permissible, even if we concede that it violates the moral respect due to the embryo. (shrink)
In this paper, we engage in dialogue with JonathanPugh, Hannah Maslen, and Julian Savulescu about how to best interpret the potential impacts of deep brain stimulation on the self. We consider whether ordinary people’s convictions about the true self should be interpreted in essentialist or existentialist ways. Like Pugh et al., we argue that it is useful to understand the notion of the true self as having both essentialist and existentialist components. We also consider two ideas (...) from existentialist philosophy – Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir’s ideas about “bad faith” and “ambiguity” – to argue that there can be value to patients in regarding themselves as having a certain amount of freedom to choose what aspects of themselves should be considered representative of their true selves. Lastly, we consider the case of an anorexia nervosa-patient who shifts between conflicting mind-sets. We argue that mind-sets in which it is easier for the patient and his or her family to share values can plausibly be considered to be more representative of the patient’s true self, if this promotes a well-functioning relationship between the patient and the family. However, we also argue that families are well-advised to give patients room to figure out what such shared values mean to them, since it can be alienating for patients if they feel that others try to impose values on them from the outside. (shrink)
In a recent article in this journal JonathanPugh critiques the idea of intermediate ‘moral respect’ which some say is owed to embryos. This concept is inherent within the ‘principle of proportionality’, the principle that destructive research on embryos is permissable only if the research serves an important purpose. Pugh poses two specific questions to proponents of the idea of intermediate moral respect. This article argues that while the questions posed by Pugh are certainly pertinent to (...) the debate, the hypothetical responses he suggests to these questions do not quite get to the core of what is troublesome about the concept. The article suggests alternative responses to Pugh's questions in order to focus attention on more fundamental problems facing the idea of intermediate moral respect, while also pointing to how the intermediate moral respect proponent might best develop these responses. It goes on to argue that these hypothetical responses fail to answer convincingly the questions posed. More specifically, this article challenges two possible justifications for the distinct idea of intermediate moral respect, namely the argument from potentiality and an argument from the proportionality of fundamental moral status. The article also raises a dilemma inherent in the application of the principle of proportionality to cases involving beings to which intermediate moral respect is owed even where it is allowed, ex hypothesi, that both the category of intermediate moral respect and the general proportionality reasoning underpinning the principle of proportionality are basically cogent. This article thus develops and adds to the challenge laid down by Pugh to proponents of the idea of intermediate moral respect. (shrink)
Prepared by editors of the distinguished series The Works of Jonathan Edwards, this authoritative anthology includes selected treatises, sermons, and autobiographical material by early America’s greatest theologian and philosopher.
Presents an analysis of Jonathan Edwards' theological position. This book includes a study of his life and the intellectual issues in the America of his time, and examines the problem of free will in connection with Leibniz, Locke, and Hume.
This article focuses on Jonathan Berg’s Theory of Direct Belief as presented in his 2012 book Direct Belief. An Essay on the Semantics, Pragmatics, and Metaphysics of Belief. After regimenting Berg’s key theses and discussing the sources of their general unpopularity, I proceed to reconstruct Berg’s book-length argument for his conclusions. I here make explicit that Berg relies on a range of strong meta-semantic principles and assumptions. I conclude that even if Berg has brought considerable methodological rigor to the (...) on-going debate over the semantics of natural language attitude ascriptions, and has proposed an elegant and consistent theory, he has not offered compelling reasons to accept his preferred methodological constraints in light of the difficulties, which those constraints impose upon attitude ascription semantics. (shrink)
The contemporary revival of virtue ethics has focused primarily on retrieving central moral commitments of Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, and the Neoplatonist traditions. Christian virtue ethicists would do well to expand this retrieval further to include the writings of the Roman Stoics. This essay argues that the ethics of Jonathan Edwards exemplifies major Stoic themes and explores three noteworthy points of intersection between Stoic ethics and Edwards's thought: a conception of virtue as consent to a benevolent providence, the identification of (...) virtue as a singular and transformative good, and an account of moral formation as simultaneously self-directed and received. Common ground between Edwards and the Stoics illustrates the value of recognizing Stoic moral thought as a philosophical framework that can enhance and undergird Christian ethicists' understandings of moral development and the nature of virtue. (shrink)
Although philosophical theologians have sometimes claimed that human beings are necessarily dependent on God, few have developed the idea with any precision. Jonathan Edwards is a notable exception, providing a detailed and often novel account of humanity’s essential ontological, moral, and soteriological dependence on God.
The contemporary interest in spiritual experience has some theological and ethical ambiguity. To what extent does it reflect genuine engagement with the sacred, to what extent is it dabbling in experience without adequate interpretation or moral commitment? Jonathan Edwards faced similar challenges in his sermons on 1 Cor 13, "Charity and Its Fruits". Alasdair Maclntyre and Pierre Hadot have explored the constitutive role of practices in forming of virtues and transmitting a way of life. Their writings help show the (...) continuing relevance of the spiritual practices that Edwards advocated, particularly self-examination, healing by contraries, and solidarity. (shrink)
The incompleteness of the task of integrating the influences made upon Jonathan Edwards by Calvinism and the moral sense leaves open a great many questions central to identifying his ethical position with any detail. This should worry ethicists, theologians, and church historians alike. For the puzzle of what Edwards meant by virtue is at the heart not only of his ethics but of a great many strands of his thought. It must be pieced together from diverse sources; and there (...) are multiple meanings to be sifted through. But it is nevertheless possible to bring the concepts made available by the diverse moral traditions upon which Edwards drew into a generally coherent counterpoise. Such a counterpoise is not merely of antiquarian interest. Lacking a precise account of Edwards's ethical position, it is awkward to talk about applying it to the problems of the twenty-first, or any, century. (shrink)
Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758) is widely acknowledged to be America's most important and original philosophical theologian. His work as a whole is an expression of two themes — the absolute sovereignty of God and the beauty of God's holiness. The first is articulated in Edwards' defense of theological determinism, in a doctrine of occasionalism, and in his insistence that physical objects are only collections of sensible “ideas” while finite minds are mere assemblages of “thoughts” or “perceptions.” As the only real (...) cause or substance underlying physical and mental phenomena, God is “being in general,” the “sum of all being.” -/- Edwards' second theme is articulated in accounts of God's end in creation, and of the nature of true virtue and true beauty. God creates in order to manifest a holiness which consists in a benevolence which alone is truly beautiful. Genuine human virtue is an imitation of divine benevolence and all finite beauty is an image of divine loveliness. True virtue is needed to discern this beauty, however, and to reason rightly about “divine things.”. (shrink)
La crítica del siglo XX ha hecho ver que varias de las obras de Jonathan Swift están vinculadas tanto con las condiciones sociales, políticas y culturales irlandesas como con algunas teorías, las cuales han quedado en la oscuridad para algunas investigaciones literarias, a pesar del hecho de que pue..
Reasoning es una obra monumental de más de mil páginas editada en estrecha colaboración por el filósofo Jonathan E. Adler y el psicólogo Lance J. Rips para esclarecer el intrincado campo de investigación relacionado con los fundamentos de la inferencia y, en general, del razonamiento humano. En la actualidad, en pocos casos va unido el trabajo de compilar y editar textos científicos con el afán enciclopédico: un proyecto editorial que sobrepasa con razón los objetivos de la mayor parte de (...) los libros editados para la recopilación de artículos en torno a un mismo tema de investigación. Reasoning supone un empeño de características enciclopédicas: ha conseguido convertirse en una referencia obligada desde que saliera a la luz en 2008 para ofrecer al lector especialista artículos científicos de las más reputadas y consolidadas voces en aquellos campos de conocimiento presentes ya en los proyectos enciclopédicos europeos del siglo de las luces, a saber: el significado del racionalismo, los límites imputables a la naturaleza del conocimiento humano, las paradojas presentes en la inducción, etc. (shrink)