Because the United States has failed to provide a pathway to citizenship for its long-term undocumented population, clinical ethicists have more than 20 years of addressing issues that arise in caring for this population. I illustrate that these challenges fall into two sets of issues. First-generation issues involve finding ethical ways to treat and discharge patients who are uninsured and ineligible for safety-net resources. More recently, ethicists have been invited to help address second-generation issues that involve facilitating the (...) presentation for care of undocumented patients. In the current environment of widespread fear of deportation in the immigrant community, ethicists are working with health care providers to address patient concerns that prevent them from seeking care. I illustrate that in both generations of issues, values implicit within health care, namely, caring, efficiency, and promotion of public health, guide the strategies that are acceptable and recommended. (shrink)
If explicit cognition about morality promotes moral behavior then one might expect ethics professors to behave particularly well. However, professional ethicists' behavior has never been empirically studied. The present research examined the rates at which ethics books are missing from leading academic libraries, compared to other philosophy books similar in age and popularity. Study 1 found that relatively obscure, contemporary ethics books of the sort likely to be borrowed mainly by professors and advanced students of philosophy were actually about (...) 50% more likely to be missing than non-ethics books. Study 2 found that classic (pre-1900) ethics books were about twice as likely to be missing. (shrink)
If philosophical moral reflection tends to improve moral behaviour, one might expect that professional ethicists will, on average, behave morally better than non-ethicists. One potential source of insight into the moral behaviour of ethicists is philosophers' opinions about ethicists' behaviour. At the 2007 Pacific Division meeting of the American Philosophical Association, we used chocolate to entice 277 passers-by to complete anonymous questionnaires without their knowing the topic of those questionnaires in advance. Version I of the questionnaire (...) asked respondents to compare, in general, the moral behaviour of ethicists to that of philosophers not specializing in ethics and to non-academics of similar social background. Version II asked respondents similar questions about the moral behaviour of the ethics specialist in their department whose name comes next in alphabetical order after their own. Both versions asked control questions about specialists in metaphysics and epistemology. The majority of respondents expressed the view that ethicists do not, on average, behave better than non-ethicists. Whereas ethicists tended to avoid saying that ethicists behave worse than non-ethicists, non-ethicists expressed that pessimistic view about as often as they expressed the view that ethicists behave better. (shrink)
If philosophical moral reflection improves moral behavior, one might expect ethics professors to behave morally better than socially similar non-ethicists. Under the assumption that forms of political engagement such as voting have moral worth, we looked at the rate at which a sample of professional ethicists—and political philosophers as a subgroup of ethicists—voted in eight years’ worth of elections. We compared ethicists’ and political philosophers’ voting rates with the voting rates of three other groups: philosophers not (...) specializing in ethics, political scientists, and a comparison group of professors specializing in neither philosophy nor political science. All groups voted at about the same rate, except for the political scientists, who voted about 10–15% more often. On the face of it, this finding conflicts with the expectation that ethicists will behave more responsibly than non-ethicists. (shrink)
Some animal research is arguably morally wrong, and some animal research is morally bad but could be improved. Who is most likely to be able to identify wrong or bad animal research and advocate for improvements? I argue that philosophical ethicists have the expertise that makes them the likely best candidates for these tasks. I review the skills, knowledge and perspectives that philosophical ethicists tend to have which makes them ethical experts. I argue that, insofar as IACUCs are (...) expected to ensure that research is ethical, they must have philosophical ethicists as members. (shrink)
Environmental ethicists have been arguing for decades that swift action to protect our natural environment is morally paramount, and that our concern for the environment should go beyond its importance for human welfare. It might be thought that the widespread acceptance of moral anti-realism would undermine the aims of environmental ethicists. One reason is that recent empirical studies purport to show that moral realists are more likely to act on the basis of their ethical convictions than anti-realists. In (...) addition, it is sometimes argued that only moral realists can countenance the claim that nature is intrinsically valuable. Against this, we argue that the acceptance of moral anti-realism is no threat to the environmentalist cause. We argue, further, that the acceptance of moral realism is potentially an obstacle to delivering on a third core environmental ethicist demand: namely, that successful action on climate change and environmental destruction requires us to change some of our commonly-held ethical views and to achieve a workable consensus. (shrink)
This paper provides a description of the role of the clinical ethicist as it is generally experienced in Canada. It examines the activities of Canadian ethicists working in healthcare institutions and the way in which their work incorporates more than ethics case consultation. The Canadian Bioethics Society established a Taskforce on Working Conditions for Bioethics (hereafter referred to as the Taskforce), to make recommendations on a number of issues affecting ethicists and to develop a model role description. This (...) essay carefully assesses this model role description. (shrink)
If philosophical moral reflection tends to promote moral behavior, one might think that professional ethicists would behave morally better than do socially comparable non-ethicists. We examined three types of courteous and discourteous behavior at American Philosophical Association conferences: talking audibly while the speaker is talking (versus remaining silent), allowing the door to slam shut while entering or exiting mid-session (versus attempting to close the door quietly), and leaving behind clutter at the end of a session (versus leaving one's (...) seat tidy). By these three measures, audiences in ethics sessions did not appear to behave any more courteously than did audiences in non-ethics sessions. However, audiences in environmental ethics sessions did appear to leave behind less trash. (shrink)
This paper provides a description of the role of the clinical ethicist as it is generally experienced in Canada. It examines the activities of Canadian ethicists working in healthcare institutions and the way in which their work incorporates more than ethics case consultation. The Canadian Bioethics Society established a “Taskforce on Working Conditions for Bioethics” (hereafter referred to as the Taskforce), to make recommendations on a number of issues affecting ethicists and to develop a model role description. This (...) essay carefully assesses this model role description. (shrink)
This article outlines one element of the work carried out by a group of Canadian ethicists [Practicing Healthcare Ethicists Exploring Professionalization (PHEEP)]—to begin the deliberative development of a set of practice standards for the Canadian context. To provide a backdrop, this article considers the nature and purpose of practice standards as they are used by regulated professions and how they relate to other practice-defining texts such as competencies, codes of ethics and statements of scope of practice. A comparative (...) review of current practice-defining documents developed within the field of healthcare ethics practice suggests that practice standards are not yet among them. A review of the practice standards and related texts articulated by various other professions, both regulated and not yet regulated, indicates that while these groups of documents serve to define and clarify various dimensions of practice in individual disciplines, there is no clear standardized approach to the terminology, structure and content across these documents. It is suggested that this variability presents a degree of flexibility that ought to allay many of the anxieties that have been expressed about practice standards in healthcare ethics: practitioners, PHEs, are at liberty to define their practice as they see fit, albeit within reasonable parameters if regulation is sought. A proposal for a draft structure and potential content for Canadian healthcare ethics practice standards is offered. (shrink)
Eric Schwitzgebel, Fiery Cushman, and Joshua Rust have conducted a series of studies of the thought and behavior of professional ethicists. They have found no evidence that ethical reflection yields distinctive improvements in behavior. This work has been done on English-speaking ethicists. Philipp Schönegger and Johannes Wagner replicated one study with German-speaking professors. Their results are almost the same, except for finding that German-speaking ethicists were more likely to be vegetarian than non-ethicists. The present paper devises (...) and evaluates eleven psychological hypotheses (along with one from Schönegger and Wagner) aimed at explaining why ethical reflection might have motivational influence for this topic but not for others. Three hypotheses are judged to be plausible at this initial stage: generic emotional support, perception of cost as a source of emotional obstacles, and social categorization. (shrink)
Do professional ethicists behave any morally better than other professors do? Do they show any greater consistency between their normative attitudes and their behavior? In response to a survey question, a large majority of professors (83 percent of ethicists, 83 percent of nonethicist philosophers, and 85 percent of nonphilosophers) expressed the view that “not consistently responding to student e-mails” is morally bad. A similarly large majority of professors claimed to respond to at least 95 percent of student e-mails. (...) These professors, and others, were sent three e-mails designed to look like queries from students. Ethicists’ e-mail response rates were not significantly different from the other two groups’. Expressed normative view correlated with self-estimated rate of e-mail responsiveness, especially among the ethicists. Empirically measured e-mail responsiveness, however, was at best weakly correlated with self-estimated e-mail responsiveness; and professors’ expressed normative attitude was not significantly correlated with empirically measured e-mail responsiveness for any of the three groups. (shrink)
To assess whether UK and US health care professionals share the views of medical ethicists about medical futility, withdrawing/withholding treatment, ordinary/extraordinary interventions, and the doctrine of double effect. A 138-item attitudinal questionnaire completed by 469 UK nurses studying the Open University course on "Death and Dying" was compared with a similar questionnaire administered to 759 US nurses and 687 US doctors taking the Hastings Center course on "Decisions near the End of Life". Practitioners accept the relevance of concepts widely (...) disparaged by bioethicists: double effect, medical futility, and the distinctions between heroic/ordinary interventions and withholding/withdrawing treatment. Within the UK nurses' group a "rationalist" axis of respondents who describe themselves as having "no religion" are closer to the bioethics consensus on withholding and withdrawing treatment. Professionals' beliefs differ substantially from the recommendations of their professional bodies and from majority opinion in bioethics. Bioethicists should be cautious about assuming that their opinions will be readily accepted by practitioners. (shrink)
Canadian ethicists have a long legacy of leadership in advocating for standards and quality in healthcare ethics. Continuing this tradition, a grassroots organization of practicing healthcare ethicists (PHEs) concerned about the lack of standardization in the field recently formed to explore potential options related to professionalization. This group calls itself “practicing healthcare ethicists exploring professionalization” (PHEEP). This paper provides a description of the process by which PHEEP has begun to engage the Canadian PHE community in the development (...) of practice standards and related projects. By making our process and its ethical and cultural underpinnings transparent, we hope to prompt PHEs around the world to reflect on the importance of context, process and principles (not just outcomes) in the exploration of and possible movement towards professionalization. By sharing some of our key successes and challenges, we also hope to inspire our colleagues to recognize the value in developing practice standards and to contribute to this endeavor. (shrink)
This article provides a systematic analysis of the cognitive processes required for acquiring skill in practical ethical reasoning in a professional domain. We undertook this NSF-supported research project in part to study relationships between case-based instruction in professional ethics and cognitive analyses of ethical reasoning strategies. Using a web-based experimental design, we report striking differences in the students' and ethicists' use of knowledge and reasoning. Virtually all of the ethicists and some students' protocols made significant use of specialized (...) professional knowledge and also used role-specific content in the ethical principles applied in their responses. In contrast, other student protocols made significantly more use of common knowledge and applied more general ethical principles or appealed to consequences in the justification of their responses. Our analyses show how certain strategies were superior to others in regard to identifying alternative moral issues, assessing the moral implications of actions, and providing alternative practical resolutions to conflicts. The findings point to the importance of professional knowledge and role-specific professional obligations in resolving professional ethical conflicts: the same knowledge and "middle-level" principles necessary to comprehend and apply professional codes of ethics. (shrink)
This volume contains a translation into clear modern English of an unjustly neglected work by Sextus Empiricus, together with introduction and extensive commentary. Sextus is our main source for the doctrines and arguments of ancient Scepticism; in Against the Ethicists he sets out a distinctive Sceptic position in ethics.
Objectives—To assess whether UK and US health care professionals share the views of medical ethicists about medical futility, withdrawing/withholding treatment, ordinary/extraordinary interventions, and the doctrine of double effectDesign, subjects and setting–A 138-item attitudinal questionnaire completed by 469 UK nurses studying the Open University course on “Death and Dying” was compared with a similar questionnaire administered to 759 US nurses and 687 US doctors taking the Hastings Center course on “Decisions near the End of Life”.Results–Practitioners accept the relevance of concepts (...) widely disparaged by bioethicists: double effect, medical futility, and the distinctions between heroic/ordinary interventions and withholding/ withdrawing treatment. Within the UK nurses' group a “rationalist” axis of respondents who describe themselves as having “no religion” are closer to the bioethics consensus on withholding and withdrawing treatment.Conclusions—Professionals' beliefs differ substantially from the recommendations of their professional bodies and from majority opinion in bioethics. Bioethicists should be cautious about assuming that their opinions will be readily accepted by practitioners. (shrink)
Several scholars familiar with Sextus Empiricus’s Pyrrhonism who have attentively read his Against the Ethicists have gotten the impression that something strange is going on in this book. For, at variance with the ‘official’ Pyrrhonian attitude of universal suspension of judgment, a number of passages of Against the Ethicists seem to ascribe to the Pyrrhonist both a type of negative dogmatism and a form of realism, which together amount to what may be called ‘moderate ethical realism’. The purpose (...) of this paper is to determine whether Sextus does embrace such a position in Against the Ethicists. (shrink)
Background: Demand for organisational ethics capacity is growing in health organisations, particularly among managers. The role of clinical ethicists in, and perspective on, organisational ethics has not been well described or documented in the literature. Objective: To describe clinical ethicists’ perspectives on organisational ethics issues in their hospitals, their institutional role in relation to organisational ethics, and their perceived effectiveness in helping to address organisational ethics issues. Design and Setting: Qualitative case study involving semi-structured interviews with 18 clinical (...)ethicists across 13 health organisations in Toronto, Canada. Results: From the clinical ethicists’ perspective, the most pressing organisational ethics issues in their organisations are: resource allocation, staff moral distress linked to the organisation’s moral climate, conflicts of interest, and clinical issues with a significant organisational dimension. Clinical ethicists were consulted in particular on issues related to staff moral distress and clinical issues with an organisational dimension. Some ethicists described being increasingly consulted on resource allocation, conflicts of interest, and other corporate decisions. Many clinical ethicists felt they lacked sufficient knowledge and understanding of organisational decision-making processes, training in organisational ethics, and access to organisational ethics tools to deal effectively with the increasing demand for organisational ethics support. Conclusion: Growing demand for organisational ethics expertise in healthcare institutions is reshaping the role of clinical ethicists. Effectiveness in organisational ethics entails a re-evaluation of clinical ethics training to include capacity building in organisational ethics and organisational decision-making processes as a complement to traditional clinical ethics education. (shrink)
Lists of paid registrants at Pacific Division meetings of the American Philosophical Association from 2006–2008 were compared with lists of people appearing as presenters, commentators or chairs on the meeting programme those same years. These were years in which fee payment depended primarily on an honour system rather than on enforcement. Seventy-four per cent of ethicist participants and 76% of non-ethicist participants appear to have paid their meeting registration fees: not a statistically significant difference. This finding of no difference survives (...) scrutiny for several possible confounds. Thus, professional ethicists seem no less likely to free-ride in this context than do philosophers not specializing in ethics. These data fit with other recent findings suggesting that on average professional ethicists behave no morally better than do professors not specializing in ethics. (shrink)
Different methods have been developed to address ethical issues during research. Most of these methods were developed at universities. In this article ethical parallel research within a Research and Technology Organization is described. Within a European project about perceived security, CPSI, the ethical issues were identified by ethicists cooperating in the project. The project CPSI was aimed at developing a research method that can be used by (local) government to monitor or assess perceived and actual security. Together with the (...) researchers a way was sought to address the ethical issues. Several issues could be addressed by choices with regard to the design of the validation study, in this case a survey. The ethical and legal reasons that were relevant for choices in the design of the validation study were made an integral part of these decisions. Some issues were already identified during the writing of the proposal others were only identified during the research. Participating in the research gave the ethicists access to all relevant information. It made it possible to address the ethical issues when they became relevant. Ethical reasons were part of some of the discussions on research method. It proved possible to address most ethical issues satisfactorily during the research project. (shrink)
BackgroundAlthough clinical ethicists are becoming more prevalent in healthcare settings, their required training and education have not been clearly delineated. Most agree that training and education are important, but their nature and delivery remain topics of debate. One option is through completion of a clinical ethics fellowship.MethodIn this paper, the first four fellows to complete a newly developed fellowship program discuss their experiences. They describe the goals, structure, participants and activities of the fellowship. They identify key elements for succeeding (...) as a clinical ethicist and sustaining a clinical ethics program. They critically reflect upon the challenges faced in the program.ResultsThe one-year fellowship provided real-time clinical opportunities that helped them to develop the necessary knowledge and skills, gain insight into the role and scope of practice of clinical ethicists and hone valuable character traits.ConclusionThe fellowship enabled each of the fellows to assume confidently and competently a position as a clinical ethicist upon completion. (shrink)
Several threads of research towards developing artificial gametes are ongoing in a number of research labs worldwide. The development of a technology that could generate gametes in vitro has significant potential for human reproduction, and raises a lot of interest, as evidenced by the frequent and extensive media coverage of research in this area. We have asked researchers involved in work with artificial gametes, ethicists, and representatives of potential user groups, how they envisioned the use of artificial gametes in (...) human reproduction. In the course of three focus groups, the participants commented on the various aspects involved. The two recurring themes were the strength of the claim of becoming a parent genetically, and the importance of responsible communication of science. The participants concurred that the desire or need to have genetic offspring of one’s own does not warrant the investment of research resources into these technologies, and that given the minefield in terms of moral controversy and sensitivity that characterises the issues involved, how information is communicated and handled is of great importance. (shrink)
To date, ethics discussions about stem cell research overwhelmingly have centered on the morality and acceptability of using human embryonic stem cells. Governments in many jurisdictions have now answered these “first-level questions” and many have now begun to address ethical issues related to the donation of cells, gametes, or embryos for research. In this commentary, we move beyond these ethical concerns to discuss new themes that scientists on the forefront of NRM development anticipate, providing a preliminary framework for further discussion (...) between scientists and ethicists. Fostering strong partnerships between neuroscientists and ethicists that operate and collaborate within this evolving framework will maximize the translation of NRM discoveries on the brain into cures that are safe and address the needs of science and society. (shrink)
Medical ethicists have assumed a role in justifying public voyeurism of human "curiosities." This role has precedent in how scientists and natural philosophers once legitimized the marketing of museums of "human curiosities." At the beginning of the twentieth century, physicians dissociated themselves from entrepreneurial displays of persons with anomalies, and such commercial exhibits went into decline. Today, news media, principally on television, promote news features about persons that closely resemble the nineteenth century exhibits of human curiosities. Reporters solicit medical (...)ethicists for soundbites to affirm the newsworthiness and propriety of public voyeurism of these medical stories. Ethicists' soundbites are usually ambiguous or self-evident and rarely enable viewers to morally engage the issues. The precedent of early twentieth century physicians disengaging from such exploitive public shows is a useful example for medical ethics. (shrink)
In the United States, disturbing concerns pertaining to both how putative bioethicists are perceived and the potential for the abuse of their power in connection with these perceptions compel close examination. This paper addresses these caveats by examining two fundamental and interrelated components in the image-construction of the ethicist: definitional and contextual. Definitional features reveal that perceptions and images of the ethicist are especially subject to distortion due to a lack of clarity as to the nature and qualifications of the (...) ethicist. Furthermore, the clinical, professional, political, academic, and linguistic contexts in which these ethicists are engaged are contexts of disquieting degrees of power. I argue that the lack of definitional clarity as to what constitutes an ethicist combined with the above volatile contexts together set the stage for the abuse of power on the part of ethicists. Throughout, I question the extent of self-critical analyses among ethicists, and, in view of these components in image-construction and their relationship to power, I challenge the degree of integrity within the field. In conclusion, I propose some areas for further investigation. (shrink)
A family had a child in large part to use its marrow in the hopes of saving the life of an older child afflicted with leukaemia. Public response from medical ethicists was negative. This paper argues that what the family did was not clearly wrong and that the ethicists should not have made public pronouncements calling the morals of the family into question.
The hysteria and misconceptions about AIDS which are fostered and held by the popular press have been accepted uncritically by many bioethicists, who have not bothered to explore popular empirical claims in sufficient depth. As a result, and because ethicists attempt tosell moral problems in a manner not much different from the way the popular press attempt tosell newspapers, artificial dilemmas have been produced in professional journals. We concentrate on just one popular misconception about AIDS-that the hetersexual incidence of (...) the syndrome is widespread-and showhow bioethicists' unreflective acceptance of this myth has led them to make conceptual and practical errors. (shrink)
In contrast to theoretical discussions about potential professional liability of clinical ethicists, this report gives the results of empirical data gathered in a national survey of clinical medical ethicists. The report assesses the types of activities of clinical ethicists, the extent and types of their professional liability coverage, and the influence that concerns about legal liability has on how they function as clinical ethicists. In addition demographic data on age, sex, educational background, etc. are reported. The (...) results show that while nearly one third (28.9%) of the ethicists regularly make recommendations about patient care, only 10.8% of them regularly make entries in the medical record; only approximately half (53.0%) of them are covered by professional liability (malpractice) insurance; and the vast majority (84.3%) of them say that concerns about legal liability do not influence the way they function as clinical ethicists. (shrink)
A study of clinical medical ethicists was conducted to determine the various philosophical positions they hold with respect to ethical decision making in medicine and their various positions' relationship to the subjective-objective controversy in value theory. The study consisted of analyzing and interpreting data gathered from questionnaires from 52 clinical medical ethicists at 28 major health care centers in the United States. The study revealed that most clinical medical ethicists tend to be objectivists in value theory, i.e., (...) believe that value judgments are knowledge claims capable of being true or false and therefore expressions of moral requirements and normative imperatives emanating from an external value structure or moral order in the world. In addition, the study revealed that most clinical medical ethicists are consistent in the philosophical foundations of their ethical decision making, i.e., in decision making regarding values they tend not to hold beliefs which are incompatible with other beliefs they hold about values. (shrink)
As part of a research project, sponsored by the French Ministry of Health, comparing the role and function of French hospital ethics committees as compared to those in the United States, I was intrigued by differences that emerged. Particularly, why should it be that professional ethicists, such prominent figures in America, have no counterpart in France?
Ethics in the modern context is under the dual pressure of scientific-technological rationality and market commercialization, which has led to breakthroughs in the original boundaries of knowledge and academic methodology. The gradual separation of the domain of public life and that of private life in modern society and the former's increasing pressure on the latter, in addition to the above dual pressure on ethics, is causing a dramatic transformation of the structure of ethical knowledge itself. All of these raise new (...) theoretical problems for ethics and ethicists in the modern context. Answering and solving these problems makes sense for the future development of ethics as one of the classic humanities, and tests modern ethicists' ability to realize their moral and theoretical duties. /// 现代语境中的伦理学面临着科技理性主义和市场商业化的双重挤压，致使伦 理学原有的知识边界和学理方法均被突破。现代社会之公共生活领域与私人生活领 域的日趋分化以及前者对后者日益增强的压迫，又使得伦理学在不得不承受双重挤 压的同时，还经历着自身知识结构的急剧转型。凡此种种都给现代社会的伦理学和 伦理学家提出了诸多新的理论课题，如何应对和处理这些课题，将不仅关系到作为 一门经典人文科学的伦理学之未来发展，而且也将考验当代伦理学家承诺自身学术 道义和理论责任的能力。. (shrink)
Much has been written about the rights of health-care professionals to conscientiously object. Ironically, there has been no formal discussion as to whether clinical ethicists have the same right. Given that ethicists routinely deal with the same situations and questions that other health-care professionals find morally discomforting, the question as to whether they have the same right is a critical one. We conclude that ethicists should not have the same right to conscientious objection. The role of an (...) ethicist is to competently manage those situations and cases that cause moral discomfort and confusion. By conscientiously objecting, an ethicist would be failing to fulfil their primary function. The same cannot be said as forcefully about other professionals who object. Moreover, ethicists retain the right to conscientious objection to the joining of the discipline in the first place, and also retain the right to exit if they so choose. (shrink)
Ethics in the modern context is under the dual pressure of scientific-technological rationality and market commercialization, which has led to breakthroughs in the original boundaries of knowledge and academic methodology. The gradual separation of the domain of public life and that of private life in modern society and the former’s increasing pressure on the latter, in addition to the above dual pressure on ethics, is causing a dramatic transformation of the structure of ethical knowledge itself. All of these raise new (...) theoretical problems for ethics and ethicists in the modern context. Answering and solving these problems makes sense for the future development of ethics as one of the classic humanities, and tests modern ethicists’ ability to realize their moral and theoretical duties. (shrink)
In terms of output in the form of published work and attraction of resources, bioethics seems to be a more vibrant field than environmental ethics. In this commentary it is argued that bioethics is, in some respect, less humanistic than environmental ethics and that two factors––bioethics’ strong connection to a profession, and its access to an intellectual ‘killer app’––offer ways in which environmental ethicists might learn from the ‘success story’ of bioethics.
Sextus Empiricus was a Pyrrhonist skeptic. Although his dates and many of the details of his life are uncertain, he probably lived in the second century A.D. Our knowledge of his philosophical skepticism is drawn primarily from a series of skeptical treatises which have survived, usually titled in English, Outlines of Pyrrhonism, Against the Logicians, Against the Physicists, Against the Learned, and Against the Ethicists. These works are invaluable, not only for the insights which they provide into Pyrrhonism, but (...) also for their sustained criticisms, elucidating in themselves, of doctrines held by the dogmatic philosophers whom Sextus opposes. (shrink)
Academic freedom is an important good, but it comes with several responsibilities. In this commentary we seek to do two things. First, we argue against Francesca Minerva's view of academic freedom as presented in her article ‘New threats to academic freedom’ on a number of grounds. We reject the nature of the absolutist moral claim to free speech for academics implicit in the article; we reject the elitist role for academics as truth-seekers explicit in her view; and we reject a (...) possible more moderate re-construction of her view based on the harm/offence distinction. Second, we identify some of the responsibilities of applied ethicists, and illustrate how they recommend against allowing for anonymous publication of research. Such a proposal points to the wider perils of a public discourse which eschews the calm and careful discussion of ideas. (shrink)
The Clinton Administration stated that the list of values and moral principles generated by the Ethics group reflects "fundamental national beliefs about community, equality, and liberty" and that "these convictions anchor health reform in shared moral traditions." However, these statements are difficult to justify. There is not a moral consensus in America that would justify thorough-going health care reform. In such a context of pluralism, ethicists should seek to move society in the direction of solidarity. The participation of (...) class='Hi'>ethicists on the Clinton Task Force was valuable because it showed that health reform is an exercise in social ethics, disseminated the work of ethicists to the entire Task Force, and expanded the experience of the ethicists involved. It may also have accelerated the moral transformation of Americans, which is needed before radical reform can take place. Keywords: American values, Clinton health plan, health care reform CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
The six papers in the 2014 clinical ethics number of the Journal get us back to the basics in the work of clinical ethics and clinical ethicists: getting clear about concepts that should be used in achieving deliberative clinical ethics. The papers explore the concepts of the best interests of the patient, health and disease understood in their proper relationship to autonomy in our species, the therapeutic obligation, and the therapeutic imperative. The final paper appraises the systematic review, a (...) scholarly tool for tracking the basic concepts of clinical ethics in the literature. (shrink)
The purpose of this article is to highlight ways in which institutional policymakers tend to insufficiently conceptualise their role as ethics practitioners. We use the case of blood product recall notification as a means of raising questions about the way in which, as we have observed it, discourse for those who make institutional ethics policies is constrained by routine balancing of simplified principles to the exclusion of reflexive practices—those that turn ethics reasoning back on itself. The latter allows ethics practitioners (...) with comparatively little formal training to take ownership of traditional parameters, which define their discussions and ultimately ought to make them more insightful when doing ethics. Thus, in the midst of calls for more training to increase the competency of ethics committees, we suggest that an additional problem of how these lay ethicists conceive of their roles also needs to be addressed. (shrink)
A project featuring scholars in nursing ethics was planned in 2005. The goal was to document the contributions of some 24 selected American nurse ethicists to bioethics, and to discuss and explore the future trajectory of that work through a two-day working seminar. This article outlines the beginnings of bioethics in the USA and the specific contribution of nurse scholars to the debate, the preparation for the seminar, the results of the project, and the possible application of such a (...) model for teaching and archiving in the future. Documentation of the work carried out at the seminar resulted in the publication of a book. Short biographies of the participants at the seminar are included in Appendix 1. (shrink)
What's Wrong?: Applied Ethicists and Their Critics is a thorough and engaging introduction to applied ethics that covers virtually all of the issues in the field. Featuring more than ninety-five articles, it addresses standard topics--such as abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, world hunger, and animal rights--and also delves into cutting-edge areas like cloning, racial profiling, same-sex marriage, prostitution, and slave reparations. The volume includes seminal essays by prominent philosophers (Robert Nozick, James Rachels, Peter Singer, and Judith Jarvis Thomson) alongside work (...) by newer voices in the field. Employing a unique approach to teaching argumentation, editors David Boonin and Graham Oddie unify the wealth of material presented in this collection. Each chapter opens with a featured article that takes a strong stand on a particular issue; the essays that immediately follow offer objections and critical responses to the arguments put forth in the featured selection. This format helps students learn how to better engage in debates because it illustrates how philosophers argue with each other. In addition, a general introduction describes strategies for understanding and evaluating the different types of arguments contained in the readings, while detailed chapter introductions enable students to see precisely how the arguments presented in the various writings are related to one another. Discussion questions and suggestions for further reading are included for each chapter. Ideal for courses in introduction to ethics and applied ethics/contemporary moral problems, What's Wrong? can also be used in critical thinking courses that emphasize philosophical argumentation. (shrink)
About Sextus Sextus Empiricus is one of the most important ancient philosophical writers after Plato and Aristotle. His writings are our main source for the doctrines and arguments of Scepticism. He probably lived in the second century AD. Eleven books of his writings have survived, covering logic, physics, ethics, and numerous more specialized fields. About Against the Ethicists In this unjustly neglected and misunderstood work Sextus sets out a distinctive Sceptic position in ethics. He discusses the concepts good and (...) bad, and puts forward the sceptical argument that nothing is either good or bad by nature or intrinsically or invariably, but only relatively to persons and/or to circumstances. He then argues that the sceptic is better off than the non-sceptic. In the latter part of the book, Sextus attacks the Stoic view that there is such a thing as a `skill for life'. About this edition This volume contains a translation of Against the Ethicists in clear modern English, together with an introduction and a detailed commentary. Those who have discussed this work in the past have tended to underestimate it, often regarding its main position as essentially the same as that of Sextus' better-known Outlines of Pyrrhonism. Richard Bett shows that Against the Ethicists represents quite a distinct and coherent philosophical outlook, associated with a phase of Scepticism earlier than Sextus himself, an outlook of which little other evidence survives. (shrink)
This volume contains a new translation of Against the Ethicists, together with an introduction and extensive commentary. Those who have discussed this work in the past have tended to underestimate it, regarding its main position as essentially the same as that of Sextus's better-known Outlines of Pyrrhonism, Richard Bett shows that this text proposes a distinct and previously unnoticed philosophical outlook, associated with a phase of Pyrrhonian Scepticism predating Sextus himself.
This volume contains a translation into clear modern English of an unjustly neglected work by Sextus Empiricus, together with introduction and extensive commentary. Sextus is our main source for the doctrines and arguments of ancient Scepticism; in Against the Ethicists he sets out a distinctive Sceptic position in ethics.
John H. Evans’s views on the multiple roles of healthcare ethics consultants are based on his claim that bioethics is a "distinct profession" that has a "system of abstract knowledge." This response to Professor Evans disputes both of his claims. It is argued that clinical ethicists are consultants but not professionals. Their roles as consultants require more than one abstract form of knowledge . Instead, clinical ethicists rely upon a variety of ethical perspectives and other skills to help (...) resolve conflicts and facilitate healthcare decisions and policy making, whether it is in clinical, research, policy, or organizational contexts. The credibility and effectiveness of clinical ethicists depend upon their knowledge of ethics, their practical experience, and personal abilities, not one form of abstract knowledge. (shrink)
Many environmental problems are longitudinal collective action problems. They arise from the cumulative unintended effects of a vast amount of seemingly insignificant decisions and actions by individuals who are unknown to each other and distant from each other. Such problems are likely to be effectively addressed only by an enormous number of individuals each making a nearly insignificant contribution to resolving them. However, when a person’s making such a contribution appears to require sacrifice or costs, the problem of inconsequentialism arises: (...) given that a person’s contribution, although needed (albeit not necessary), is nearly inconsequential to addressing the problem and may require some cost from the standpoint of the person’s own life, why should the person make the effort, particularly when it is uncertain (or even unlikely) whether others will do so? In this article I argue that justifications for making the effort to respond to longitudinal collective action environmental problems are, on the whole, particularly well supported by virtue-oriented normative theories, on which character traits are evaluated as virtues and vices consequentially or teleologically and actions are evaluated in terms of virtues and vices. If ethical theories are to be assessed on their theoretical and practical adequacy, and if providing a compelling response to the problem of inconsequentialism is an instance of such adequacy, then this is a reason for preferring virtue-oriented ethical theory over non-virtue-oriented ethical theories, such as Kantian, act utilitarian, and global utilitarian theories. (shrink)