The present paper studies self-awareness and introduces some self-awareness related incidents. It then describes the relationship between self-awareness and consciousness and explains the MoNAD, a neural network circuit developed by the authors that capably describes the phenomena of self-awareness and consciousness. A model of self-awareness is then presented. This self-awareness model is a parallel network system in which multiple independent MoNADs communicate with one another. In experiments with robots, three test robots were used: (1) a self-image robot reflected in a (...) mirror, (2) another robot, and (3) a cable-connected robot behaving as commanded by the self-robot. The reactions of the three test robots to the self-robot were compared to investigate the self-awareness of the self-robot. The experiments have shown that the conditions required for the self-robot to interpret the test robot to be part of itself are: (1) the test robot must return a reaction within a certain period of time that is inte.. (shrink)
Background A baby hatch called the “Stork’s Cradle” has been in place at Jikei Hospital in Kumamoto City, Japan, since May 10, 2007. Babyklappes were first established in Germany in 2000, and there are currently more than 90 locations. Attitudes regarding baby hatches are divided in Japan and neither opinions for nor against baby hatches have thus far been overwhelming. To consider the appropriateness of baby hatches, we present and examine the validity of each major objection to establishing baby hatches. (...) Discussion There are various objections to baby hatches as follows: It violates a child’s right to know the identity of his or her biological parents by allowing anonymous birth; it neglects fulfillment of the biological parents’ basic obligation to raise their child and its very availability induces abandonment of infants; some people abuse it for very selfish reasons; it cannot save babies’ lives; the rights of one parent can be ignored if the other surrenders a child without his or her consent; it puts a baby in medical jeopardy; and it has no clear legal basis. The authors would argue that there are many plausible refutations for each objection mainly based on priority of child’s right to life, pregnant women’s vulnerability and necessity of anonymity, social responsibility to protect and raise children, differences between dropping a child off at a baby hatch and child neglect, limited function of social childcare center, inevitability of abuse by a minority of people, necessary distinction between outcomes that occur only because baby hatches exist and those that occur regardless of their existence, important local direct and upmost measures for women in trouble, and difference between ambiguous legality and illegality. Summary We argue that a certain number of baby hatches should continue to be established as a last resort, in a form that can maintain anonymity if the parent dropping the child off so desires. It should be supported if it is initiated with good intentions; if the maximum possible effort is made at said facility to protect the interests, rights, and safety of the child; and if no clear evidence of harm exists. (shrink)
Background The purpose of this study is to explore laypersons' attitudes toward the use of archived (existing) materials such as medical records and biological samples and to compare them with the attitudes of physicians who are involved in medical research. Methods Three focus group interviews were conducted, in which seven Japanese male members of the general public, seven female members of the general public and seven physicians participated. Results It was revealed that the lay public expressed diverse attitudes towards the (...) use of archived information and samples without informed consent. Protecting a subject's privacy, maintaining confidentiality, and communicating the outcomes of studies to research subjects were regarded as essential preconditions if researchers were to have access to archived information and samples used for research without the specific informed consent of the subjects who provided the material. Although participating physicians thought that some kind of prior permission from subjects was desirable, they pointed out the difficulties involved in obtaining individual informed consent in each case. Conclusions The present preliminary study indicates that the lay public and medical professionals may have different attitudes towards the use of archived information and samples without specific informed consent. This hypothesis, however, is derived from our focus groups interviews, and requires validation through research using a larger sample. (shrink)
As of 2009, the number of donors in Japan is the lowest among developed countries. On July 13, 2009, Japan's Organ Transplant Law was revised for the first time in 12 years. The revised and old laws differ greatly on four primary points: the definition of death, age requirements for donors, requirements for brain- death determination and organ extraction, and the appropriateness of priority transplants for relatives.In the four months of deliberations in the National Diet before the new law was (...) established, various arguments regarding brain death and organ transplantation were offered. An amazing variety of opinions continue to be offered, even after more than 40 years have elapsed since the first heart organ transplant in Japan. Some are of the opinion that with the passage of the revised law, Japan will finally become capable of performing transplants according to global standards. Contrarily, there are assertions that organ transplants from brain- dead donors are unacceptable because they result in organs being taken from living human beings.Considering the current conditions, we will organize and introduce the arguments for and against organ transplants from brain- dead donors in contemporary Japan. Subsequently, we will discuss the primary arguments against organ transplants from brain- dead donors from the perspective of contemporary Japanese views on life and death. After introducing the recent view that brain death should not be regarded as equivalent to the death of a human being, we would like to probe the deeply-rooted views on life and death upon which it is based. (shrink)
BackgroundThe current debate about medical futility is mostly driven by theoretical and personal perspectives and there is a lack of empirical data to document experts and public attitudes towards medical futility.MethodsTo examine the attitudes of the Japanese experts in the fields relevant to medical futility a questionnaire survey was conducted among the members of the Japan Association for Bioethics. A total number of 108 questionnaires returned filled in, giving a response rate of 50.9%. Among the respondents 62% were healthcare professionals (...) (HCPs) and 37% were non-healthcare professionals (Non-HCPs).ResultsThe majority of respondents (67.6 %) believed that a physician's refusal to provide or continue a treatment on the ground of futility judgment could never be morally justified but 22.2% approved such refusal with conditions. In the case of physiologically futile care, three-quarters believed that a physician should inform the patient/family of his futility judgment and it would be the patient who could decide what should be done next, based on his/her value judgment. However more than 10% said that a physician should ask about a patient's value and goals, but the final decision was left to the doctor not the patient. There was no statistically significant difference between HCPs and Non-HCPs (p = 0.676). Of respondents 67.6% believed that practical guidelines set up by the health authority would be helpful in futility judgment.ConclusionThe results show that there is no support for the physicians' unilateral decision- making on futile care. This survey highlights medical futility as an emerging issue in Japanese healthcare and emphasizes on the need for public discussion and policy development. (shrink)
Although euthanasia has been a pressing ethical and public issue, empirical data are lacking in Japan. We aimed to explore Japanese nurses’ attitudes to patients’ requests for euthanasia and to estimate the proportion of nurses who have taken active steps to hasten death. A postal survey was conducted between October and December 1999 among all nurse members of the Japanese Association of Palliative Medicine, using a self-administered questionnaire based on the one used in a previous survey with Australian nurses in (...) 1991. The response rate was 68%. A total of 53% of the respondents had been asked by patients to hasten their death, but none had taken active steps to bring about death. Only 23% regarded voluntary active euthanasia as something ethically right and 14% would practice it if it were legal. A comparison with empirical data from the previous Australian study suggests a significantly more conservative attitude among Japanese nurses. (shrink)
Semantic studies on diagrammatic notations (Barwise & Etchemendy, ; Shimojima, ; Stenning & Lemon, ) have revealed that the “non-deductive,” “emergent,” or “perceptual” effects of diagrams (Chandrasekaran, Kurup, Banerjee, Josephson, & Winkler, ; Kulpa, ; Larkin & Simon, ; Lindsay, ) are all rooted in the exploitation of spatial constraints on graphical structures. Thus, theoretically, this process is a key factor in inference with diagrams, explaining the frequently observed reduction of inferential load. The purpose of this study was to examine (...) the empirical basis for this theoretical suggestion, focusing on the reality of the constraint-exploitation strategy in actual practices of diagrammatic reasoning. Eye movements were recorded while participants used simple position diagrams to solve three- or four-term transitive inference problems. Our experiments revealed that the participants could exploit spatial constraints on graphical structures even when (a) they were not in the position of actually manipulating diagrams, (b) the semantic rule for the provided diagrams did not match their preferences, and (c) the constraint-exploitation strategy invited a partly adverse effect. These findings indicate that the hypothesized process is in fact robust, with the potential to broadly account for the inferential advantage of diagrams. (shrink)
Back groundEmpirical surveys about medical futility are scarce relative to its theoretical assumptions. We aimed to evaluate the difference of attitudes between laypeople and physicians towards the issue.MethodsA questionnaire survey was designed. Japanese laypeople (via Internet) and physicians with various specialties (via paper-and-pencil questionnaire) were asked about whether they would provide potentially futile treatments for end-of-life patients in vignettes, important factors for judging a certain treatment futile, and threshold of quantitative futility which reflects the numerical probability that an act will (...) produce the desired physiological effect. Also, the physicians were asked about their practical frequency and important reasons for futile treatments.Results1134 laypeople and 401 (80%) physicians responded. In all vignettes, the laypeople were more affirmative in providing treatments in question significantly. As the factors for judging futility, medical information and quality of life (QOL) of the patient were rather stressed by the physicians. Treatment wish of the family of the patient and psychological impact on patient side due to the treatment were rather stressed by laypeople. There were wide variations in the threshold of judging quantitative futility in both groups. 88.3% of the physicians had practical experience of providing futile treatment. Important reasons for it were communication problem with patient side and lack of systems regarding futility or foregoing such treatment.ConclusionLaypeople are more supportive of providing potentially futile treatments than physicians. The difference is explained by the importance of medical information, the patient family’s influence to decision-making and QOL of the patient. The threshold of qualitative futility is suggested to be arbitrary. (shrink)
Objective—To demonstrate Japanese doctors' and nurses' attitudes towards and practices of voluntary euthanasia (VE) and to compare their attitudes and practices in this regard. Design—Postal survey, conducted between October and December 1999, using a self-administered questionnaire.Participants—All doctor members and nurse members of the Japanese Association of Palliative Medicine.Main outcome measure—Doctors' and nurses' attitude towards and practices of VE.Results—We received 366 completed questionnaires from 642 doctors surveyed (response rate, 58%) and 145 from 217 nurses surveyed (68%). A total of 54% (95% (...) confidence interval (CI): 49-59) of the responding doctors and 53% (CI: 45-61) of the responding nurses had been asked by patients to hasten death, of whom 5% (CI: 2-8) of the former and none of the latter had taken active steps to bring about death. Although 88% (CI: 83-92) of the doctors and 85% (CI: 77-93) of the nurses answered that a patient's request to hasten death can sometimes be rational, only 33% (CI: 28-38) and 23% (CI: 16-30) respectively regarded VE as ethically right and 22% (CI: 18-36) and 15% (CI: 8-20) respectively would practise VE if it were legal. Logistic regression model analysis showed that the respondents' profession was not a statistically independent factor predicting his or her response to any question regarding attitudes towards VE. Conclusions—A minority of responding doctors and nurses thought VE was ethically or legally acceptable. There seems no significant difference in attitudes towards VE between the doctors and nurses. However, only doctors had practised VE. (shrink)
A placebo is a substance or intervention believed to be inactive, but is administered by the healthcare professional as if it was an active medication. Unlike standard treatments, clinical use of placebo usually involves deception and is therefore ethically problematic. Our attitudes toward the clinical use of placebo, which inevitably includes deception or withholding information, have a tremendous effect on our practice regarding truth-telling and informed consent. A casual attitude towards it weakens the current practice based on shared decision-making and (...) mutual trust between patients and healthcare professionals. Issues concerning the clinical use of placebo are thus intimately related to patient-provider relationships, the public's trust in medicine, and medical education. A review of recent survey studies suggests that the clinical use of placebo appears to be fairly well accepted among healthcare professionals and is common in clinical settings in various countries. However, we think that an ethical discussion is urgently needed because of its controversial nature. If judged to be ethically wrong, the practice should end. In the present paper, we discuss the ethicality of the clinical use of placebo with deception and argue against it, concluding that it is unethical and should be banned. We will show that most arguments in favor of the clinical use of placebo can be refuted and are therefore incorrect or weak. These arguments will be presented and examined individually. Finally, we will briefly consider issues relevant to the clinical use of placebo without deception. (shrink)
Recent social theory has identified various institutional forces operating at a global level promoting novel trends towards “individualization”, “reflexive self-identity” and “new individualism” (Beck and Beck-Gernsheim, 2001; Giddens, 1991, 1992; Elliott and Lemert, 2009, 2009a). This article develops an exploratory overview of the theory of new individualism with reference to Japanese sociologies of self specifically and contemporary Japanese society more generally. Detailing the large-scale societal shift in Japan from traditional forms of identity-construction (based on a citizenship model of social order) (...) to post-traditional forms of identity-construction (promoted by globalization and neoliberal policies), the article distinguishes between four discourses of the self in post-war Japanese society: the age of the ideal; the age of the dream; the age of fiction; and, the age of fragmentation. Moreover, the article examines the Japanese employment system and the emergence of new individualist employment, as well as considering the emotional impacts of a rise in suicides in contemporary Japan. The argument is that the new individualist thesis can contribute to a sociological understanding of recent social transformations in Japan. However, situating new individualism in the context of Japan also highlights significant tensions in processes of new individualism, tensions between individual initiatives and institutional pressures. (shrink)
This study aims to unveil the process of whistleblowing. Two nursing staff members who worked in a psychiatric hospital convicted of large-scale wrongdoing were interviewed. Data were analyzed using a modified grounded theory approach. Analysis of the interviews demonstrated that they did not decide to whistleblow when they were suspicious or had an awareness of wrongdoing. They continued to work, driven by appreciation, affection, and a sense of duty. Their decision to whistleblow was ultimately motivated by firm conviction. Shortly after (...) whistleblowing, wavering emotions were observed, consisting of a guilty conscience, fear of retribution, and pride, which subsequently transformed to stable emotions containing a sense of relief and regret for delayed action. It is necessary for nurses to recognize that their professional responsibility is primarily to patients, not to organizations. Nurses should also have professional judgment about appropriate allegiance and actions. (shrink)
Since Japan adopted the concept of informed consent from the West, its inappropriate acquisition from patients in the Japanese clinical setting has continued, due in part to cultural aspects. Here, we discuss the current status of and contemporary issues surrounding informed consent in Japan, and how these are influenced by Japanese culture.
Eye contact plays a critical role in many aspects of face processing, including the processing of smiles. We propose that this is achieved by a subcortical route, which is activated by eye contact and modulates the cortical areas involve in social cognition, including the processing of facial expression. This mechanism could be impaired in individuals with autism spectrum disorders.
We provide necessary and sufficient conditions for a dynamically consistent agent always to prefer more informative signals (in single-agent problems). These conditions do not imply recursivity, reduction or independence. We provide a simple definition of dynamically consistent behavior, and we discuss whether an intrinsic information lover (say, an anxious person) is likely to be dynamically consistent.
In medical ethics, an appropriate national healthcare system that meets the requirements of justice in healthcare resource allocation is a major concern. Japan is no exception to this trend, and the pros and cons of introducing a two-tier healthcare system, which permits insured medical care services to be provided along with services not covered by social health insurance, have been the subject of debate for many years. The Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that it was valid for the government to (...) ban mixing medical treatments and both the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare and Japanese Medical Association oppose the introduction of such a system. In this paper, we examine the main arguments against the introduction of a two-tier healthcare system and ideas that form their basis, which can be broadly divided into opinions based on the importance of equality and those derived from the logical conclusion that the outcomes would be detrimental. We point out issues and shortcomings of each standpoint and argue that the introduction of the system would not necessarily threaten equality and social solidarity in Japanese society, and that abuses of a self-pay tier would be controllable to a certain extent. Then, the authors—who do not actively promote the introduction of a two-tier healthcare system—conclude that the allegation that is completely devoted to one side and the theory that social healthcare is collapsing, which makes the public excessively nervous, cannot be accepted. (shrink)
How should the Japanese death penalty system stand in the future? While banning the death penalty has become a global trend, Japanese public opinion still supports it, and the government continues to strongly insist retention of the system. Despite worldwide criticism towards Japanese opinion, until very recently have been no reductions in death penalty sentences or executions. Both abolitionist and retentionist countries have strong arguments to support their opinions, thus there is no decisive argument that overwhelmingly refutes others. Consideration for (...) the feelings of the murder victim’s family is significant, and there are certain actions perpetrated by the criminal which seem unforgivable and for which nothing can compensate. At the same time, homicide is a violence that should never be acceptable and therefore cannot be justified, and human error will always allow for the possibility of wrongful convictions. The authors argue that the death penalty should be abolished in principle, but we cannot deny the existence of a criminal for whom the death penalty would be appropriate. Ethically, it would be questionable to accept life imprisonment without parole as an alternative. We are of the position that there is no definite conclusion concerning the ethicality of the death penalty. (shrink)