This book approaches ethical and legal issues in medicine from the patient's viewpoint and argues that many patients do not want the full burden of decision making that contemporary bioethics has thrust upon them.
Recent studies indicate that patients who are diagnosed with vegetative states may retain more awareness than their clinical assessments suggest. Disorders of consciousness traditionally have been diagnosed on the basis of outwardly observable behaviors alone, but new functional imaging studies have shown surprising levels of brain activity in some patients, indicating that even higher-level cognitive functions like language processing and visual imagery may be preserved. For example, one recently developed method purports to detect voluntary mental imagery solely on the basis (...) of neural response patterns observed with functional magnetic resonance imaging. This line of research has already led to some widely reported cases of patients who were discovered to have more brain activity than expected. In November 2009, Rom Houben, a Belgian man who was thought to be in a coma for 23 years, was diagnosed with locked-in syndrome through the use of neuroimaging; however, that assessment was later overturned by further testing. (shrink)
In this paper, we review recent neuroimaging investigations of disorders of consciousness and different disciplines' understanding of consciousness itself. We consider potential tests of consciousness, their legal significance, and how they map onto broader themes in U.S. statutory law pertaining to advance directives and surrogate decision-making. In the process, we outline a taxonomy of themes to illustrate and clarify the variance in state-law definitions of consciousness. Finally, we discuss broader scientific, ethical, and legal issues associated with the advent of neuroimaging (...) for disorders of consciousness and conclude with policy recommendations that could help to mitigate confusion in this realm. (shrink)
In America today, public policy governing an increasing number of social issues is made through the judicial enforcement of constitutional rights. Cruzan raised the question whether policy regarding the withdrawal of medical care from incompetent patients is to be handled similarly. This essay argues that privacy-rights doctrine provides a poor basis for constructing public policy in this area. It suggests that the Court has been unable to articulate a convincing basis for privacy rights and that the basis the Court seems (...) to assume poorly fits many circumstances to which it is applied. The essay further contends that the Court has been unable to describe a persuasive method of analyzing the state interests that are at stake in privacy cases and to accommodate those interests in a reasonable way. The essay concludes that these are issues as to which policy is better formed through a political, not judicial, process. Keywords: constitutional rights, courts, fundamental right, personal right, public policy, rights CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
Though Nietzsche never developed a theory of history, his comments on time yield a radical approach to historical interpretation. Central to this philosophy is the concept of eternal recurrence. Time, with neither boundary nor purpose, returns from the past to repeat itself in its same form. This generates a psychological and moral problem for men, as it fails to provide the elements of meaning which Nietzsche considered essential to the human psyche. Men survive the aimlessness of history by living in (...) the unhistorical consciousness of the immediate present. Nietzsche's ideal is the suprahistorical man, whose awareness of history, and his disgust with it, lead him to find meaning in the structure of time-a structure of meaninglessness. The value system of history is this will to power and precludes the extension of historical judgment to situations beyond the sphere of inquiry. (shrink)
Almost nobody favors long consent forms for prospective research subjects. Almost everybody thinks they interfere with informed consent’s purpose—good decisions. Nevertheless, almost everybody believes consent forms have long been getting longer. Years ago, Paul Appelbaum lamented the “tendency to cram ever more information into consent forms.”1 Weeks ago, Ilene Albala and her colleagues (one of them Appelbaum) reported in IRB: Ethics & Human Research that the length of one institutional review board’s forms “increased roughly linearly by an average of 1.5 (...) pages per decade. In the 1970s, the average consent form was less than one page long and often only a paragraph or two, but by the mid-1990s the .. (shrink)