Extensive research has demonstrated that rs1360780, a common single nucleotide polymorphism within the FKBP5 gene, interacts with early-life stress in predicting psychopathology. Previous results suggest that carriers of the TT genotype of rs1360780 who were exposed to child abuse show differences in structure and functional activation of emotion-processing brain areas belonging to the salience network. Extending these findings on intermediate phenotypes of psychopathology, we examined if the interaction between rs1360780 and child abuse predicts resting-state functional connectivity between the amygdala and (...) other areas of the salience network. We analyzed data of young European adults from the general population who took part in the IMAGEN study. In the absence of main effects of genotype and abuse, a significant interaction effect was observed for rsFC between the right centromedial amygdala and right posterior insula, which was driven by stronger rsFC in TT allele carriers with a history of abuse. Our results suggest that the TT genotype of rs1360780 may render individuals with a history of abuse more vulnerable to functional changes in communication between brain areas processing emotions and bodily sensations, which could underlie or increase the risk for psychopathology. (shrink)
Suppose that the ultimate point of ethics is to make the world a better place. If it is, we must face the question: better in what respect? If the good is prior to the right — that is, if the rationale for all requirements of the right is that they serve to further the good in one way or another — then what is this good? Is there a single fundamental value capable of underlying and unifying all of our moral (...) categories? If so, how might it defeat the claims of rival candidates for this role? If not, is there instead a plurality of basic goods, each irreducible to any of the others? In that case, how do they fit together into a unified picture of the moral life? These are the questions I wish to address, in a necessarily limited way. To many the questions will seem hopelessly old-fashioned or misguided. Some deontologists will wish to reverse my ordering of the good and the right, holding that the right constrains acceptable conceptions of the good. For many contractarians, neither the good nor the right will seem normatively basic, since both are to be derived from a prior conception of rationality. Finally, some theorists will reject the classification of moral theories in terms of their basic normative categories, arguing that the whole foundationalist enterprise in ethics should be abandoned. In the face of these challenges to the priority of the good, and in light of the many current varieties of moral skepticism and relativism, I cannot provide a very convincing justification for raising the questions I intend to discuss. (shrink)
No one who cares about equal opportunity can derive much comfort from the present occupational distribution of working women. In the various industrial societies of the West, women comprise between one quarter and one-half of the national labor force. However, they tend to clustered in employment sectors – especially clerical, sales, and service J occupations – which rank relatively low in remuneration, status, autonomy, and other perquisites. Meanwhile, the more prestigious and rewarding managerial and professional positions, as well as the (...) major categories of blue-collar labor, remain largely a male preserve. In the same societies the average income earned by full-time female workers is one-half to two- J thirds that of their male counterparts. Although this disparity owes much to i other factors, including lower pay for work similar or even identical to that r standardly done by men, much of it can be explained only by the concentration of working women in traditional female job ghettos. (shrink)
If I lead a life of virtue, that may well be good for you. But will it also be good for me? The idea that it will—or even must—is an ancient one, and its appeal runs deep. For if this idea is correct then we can provide everyone with a good reason—arguably the best reason—for being virtuous. However, for all the effort which has been invested in defending the idea, by some of the best minds in the history of philosophy, (...) it remains unproven. Worse, in this skeptical age hardly anyone really believes it. I don't really believe it either, at least not in its strongest forms, but I think that the question is nonetheless worth examining. Even if we cannot show that virtue and self-interest coincide, we can at least measure the breadth of the gap between them. (shrink)
Moral philosophers agree that welfare matters. But they disagree about what it is, or how much it matters. In this vital new work, Wayne Sumner presents an original theory of welfare, investigating its nature and discussing its importance. He considers and rejects all notable theories of welfare, both objective and subjective, including hedonism and theories founded on desire or preference. His own theory connects welfare closely with happiness or life satisfaction. Reacting against the value pluralism that currently dominates moral philosophy, (...) he advances welfare as the only basic ethical value. He concludes by discussing the implications of this thesis for ethical and political theory. Written in clear, non-technical language, and including a definitive survey of other work in this area, Sumner's book is essential reading for moral philosophers, political theorists, and welfare economists. (shrink)
What does it mean for someone to have a moral right to something? What kinds of creatures can have rights, and which rights can they have? While rights are indispensable to our moral and political thinking, they are also mysterious and controversial; as long as these controversies remain unsolved, rights will remain vulnerable to skepticism. Here, Sumner constructs both a coherent concept of a moral right and a workable substantive theory of rights to provide the moral foundation necessary to dispel (...) such doubts. (shrink)
Due largely to the influential work of Ronald Dworkin, there is an ongoing debate concerning the possibility of genuine metaethical theorizing. Dworkin, and others, argue that metaethical theories collapse into first-order normative theories. In his short and widely neglected paper, L.W. Sumner provides a compelling account of how to engage in metaethical theorizing while avoiding substantive moral commitments.
This paper describes the change of emphasis that occurred in the teaching of ethics to small groups of clinical students. Although the original focus of the course was on the analysis of ethical dilemmas associated with individual patients known to the students, it soon became evident that there were, for the students themselves, more fundamental ethical dilemmas in their new role as clinical students. These included worries about how to respond when patients asked questions which their consultants had previously deceived (...) them about, worries about inflicting pain on patients, as with intravenous cannulation, and the role of the medical student in the clinical team. We emphasise the need to explore student experiences as part of the process of ethics teaching. (shrink)
How are we to understand the role of bioethics in the health care system, government, and academe? This collection of original essays raises these and other questions about the nature of bioethics as a discipline.
This paper defends an account of compassion and argues for the centrality of compassion to the proper practice of medicine. The argument proceeds by showing that failures of compassion can lead to poor medical treatment and disastrous outcomes. Several case studies are discussed, exemplifying the difference between compassionate and noncompassionate responses to patients seeking help. Arguments are offered in support of approaching reports of persistent pain with a trusting attitude, rather than distrust or skepticism. The article concludes by suggesting educational (...) improvements to encourage compassion. (shrink)
When medical assistance in dying (MAiD) was legalized in Canada in June 2016, the question of allowing decisionally capable persons to make advance requests in anticipation of later incapacity was reserved for further consideration during the mandatory parliamentary review originally scheduled to begin in June 2020 (but since delayed by COVID-19). In its current form the legislation does not permit such requests, since it stipulates that at the time at which the procedure is to be administered the patient must give (...) “express consent” to receiving it. Since express consent presupposes decisional capacity, this requirement rules out administering MAiD to a patient who has lost capacity. Amendments to the legislation passed by Parliament in March 2021 open the door slightly by allowing advance requests by patients after they have been approved for MAiD, if they fear losing capacity before the procedure can be administered. But this provision would apply only to patients whose natural death was deemed to be “reasonably foreseeable”, and would continue to exclude (a) requests made after diagnosis of a “grievous and irremediable medical condition” but in advance of approval for MAiD, and (b) requests made before such a diagnosis. My aim in this paper is twofold: to explore the ethical and legal issues concerning advance requests for MAiD, and to argue for expanding provision for such requests to include both of these further scenarios. (shrink)
When Amartya Sen defends his capability theory of well-being he contrasts it with the utility theory advocated by the classical utilitarians, including John Stuart Mill. Yet a closer examination of the two theories reveals that they are much more similar than they appear. Each theory can be interpreted in either a subjective or an objective way. When both are interpreted subjectively the differences between them are slight, and likewise for the objective interpretations. Finally, whatever differences may remain are less important (...) than they might seem, since the two theories are developed by Sen and Mill for different purposes and are in that sense not genuine rivals. (shrink)
Hate speech, understood broadly, is any form of expression intended to arouse hatred or contempt toward members of a particular social group. When university administrators have reason to believe that a planned speaking event on campus may feature hate speech (at least in the eyes of some), how should they respond? In this paper I address this question as it arises for Canadian universities. I argue that, where the regulation of campus speech is concerned, the right course of action for (...) university administrators is nearly always to do absolutely nothing. They will have reason to become actively involved only in order to ensure that a speaking event proceeds safely, or when it threatens to disrupt the functioning of the university, or when it is itself threatened with disruption by protesting groups. In those instances the justification for intervention will be to protect and facilitate speech, not to shut it down. (shrink)