Beginning from a basis in the theoretical analysis of comparative religious ethics provided by David Little and Sumner Twiss, this essay extends that analysis by sketching certain "benchmark" theoretical options in comparative religious ethics and by identifying certain fundamental questions which ethicists ought to address to the data supplied by descriptive studies of comparative religions. To illustrate the application of the theoretical model thus defined, the essay concludes with an analysis of selected themes in the essays by Campany, Guberman, and (...) Read in this Focus. (shrink)
This paper argues that epistemic errors rooted in group- or identity- based biases, especially those pertaining to disability, are undertheorized in the literature on medical error. After sketching dominant taxonomies of medical error, we turn to the field of social epistemology to understand the role that epistemic schemas play in contributing to medical errors that disproportionately affect patients from marginalized social groups. We examine the effects of this unequal distribution through a detailed case study of ableism. There are four primary (...) mechanisms through which the epistemic schema of ableism distorts communication between nondisabled physicians and disabled patients: testimonial injustice, epistemic overconfidence, epistemic erasure, and epistemic derailing. Measures against epistemic injustices in general and against schema-based medical errors in particular are ultimately issues of justice that must be better addressed at all levels of health care practice. (shrink)
ISBN-13: 978-0-226-11360-9 (cloth : alk. paper) ISBN-10: 0-226-11360-4 ... HM651.C64 2007 158.1—dc22 2007022671 The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard for Information ...
This lecture is divided, roughly, into three parts. First, there is a general and perhaps rather simple-minded discussion of what are the ‘facts’ that social anthropologists study; is there anything special about these ‘facts’ which makes them different from other kinds of facts? It will be useful to start with the common-sense distinction between two kinds or, better, aspects of social facts; first—though neither is analytically prior to the other—and putting it very crudely, ‘what people do’, the aspect of social (...) interaction, and second, ‘what—and how—people think’, the conceptual, classifying, cognitive component of human culture. Now in reality, of course , these two aspects are inextricably intertwined. But it is essential to distinguish them analytically, because each aspect gives rise to quite different kinds of problems of understanding for the social anthropologist. We shall see that the problem of how to be ‘objective’, and so to avoid ethnographic error, arises in both contexts, but in rather different forms in each. (shrink)
In terms of intervening in embodied experience, medical treatment is wonder-full in its ambition and its metaphysical presumption; yet, wonder’s role in clinical medicine has received little philosophical attention. In this paper, I propose, to doctors and others in routine clinical life, the value of an openness to wonder and to the sense of wonder. Key to this is the identity of the central ethical challenges facing most clinicians, which is not the high-tech drama of the popular conceptions of medical (...) ethics but, rather, the routine of patients’ undramatic but unremitting demands for the clinician’s time and respectful attention. Wonder (conceived as an intense and transfiguring attentiveness) is a ubiquitous ethical source, an alternative to the more familiar respect for rational autonomy, a source of renewal galvanizing diagnostic imagination, and a timely recalling of the embodied agency of both patient and clinician. (shrink)
Peer review of grant applications, it has been suggested, might be distorted by what is popularly termed old boyism, cronyism, or particularism. We argue that the existing debate emphasizes the more uninteresting aspects of the peer review system and that the operation of old boyism, as currently understood would have little effect on the overall direction of science. We identify a phenomenon of cognitive particularism, which we consider to be more important than the institutional cronyism analyzed in previous studies. We (...) illustrate with material drawn from observation of grant-awarding commit tees of the Science and Engineering Research CounciL In the concluding discussion, we explore some of the possible implications for the peer review system. (shrink)
This paper first distinguishes governance (collective, autonomous self-regulatory processes) from government (externally-imposed mandatory regulation); it proposes that the second of these is essentially incompatible with a conception of the medical humanities that involves imagination and vision on the part of medical practitioners. It next develops that conception of the medical humanities, as having three distinguishable aspects (all of them distinct from the separate phenomena popularly known as “arts-in-health”): first, an intellectual enquiry into the nature of clinical medicine; second, an important (...) dimension of medical education; third, a resource for moral and aesthetic influences upon clinical practice, supporting “humane health care” as the moral inspirations behind organised medicine. Medical humanities sustains these three aspects through paying proper attention to the existential and subjective aspects of medicine. By encouraging authentic imagination among health care practitioners, medical humanities aligns well with both humane health care and governance in the sense of self-regulation. However, it can neither be achieved mechanistically nor well-measured through proxies such as patient satisfaction. Above all, it should not be allowed to supply, through inappropriate qualitative “targets,” new forms of management tyranny. (shrink)
Introduction: The Dutch Euthanasia Act states that euthanasia is not punishable if the attending physician acts in accordance with the statutory due care criteria. These criteria hold that: there should be a voluntary and well-considered request, the patient’s suffering should be unbearable and hopeless, the patient should be informed about their situation, there are no reasonable alternatives, an independent physician should be consulted, and the method should be medically and technically appropriate. This study investigates whether physicians experience problems with these (...) criteria in medical practice.Methods: In 2006, questionnaires were sent to a random, stratified sample of 2100 Dutch physicians . Physicians were asked about problems in their decision-making related to requests for euthanasia or assisted suicide after enforcement of the 2002 Euthanasia Act.Results: Of all physicians who had received a request for euthanasia or assisted suicide , 25% had experienced problems in the decision-making with regard to at least one of the criteria of due care. Physicians who had experienced problems mostly indicated to have had problems related to evaluating whether or not the patient’s suffering was unbearable and hopeless and whether or not the patient’s request was voluntary or well considered .Discussion: Physicians in The Netherlands most frequently reported problems related to aspects in which they have to evaluate the patient’s subjective perspective. However, it can be questioned whether placing emphasis on these subjective aspects is an adequate fulfilment of the duties imposed on physicians, as laid down in the Dutch Euthanasia Act. (shrink)
“Medical humanities” is a phrase whose currency is wider than its agreed meaning or denotation. What sort of study is it, and what is its relation to the study of philosophy of medicine? This paper briefly reviews the origins of the current flowering of interest and activity in studies that are collectively called “medical humanities” and presents an account of its nature and central enquiries in which philosophical questions are unashamedly central. In the process this paper argues that the field (...) of enquiry is well-conceived as being philosophical in character, and as having philosophy — albeit pursued over a larger canvas — at the core of its contributing humanities disciplines. The paper characterises humanities disciplines as having an important focus on human experience and subjectivity, of which the experiences and subjectivities at stake in health, medicine and illness form an important sub-set, the preoccupation of the medical humanities as a whole. Claims of interdisciplinarity (as distinct from multidisciplinarity) are noted, but such claims need to be recognised for the high and stern ambition that they embody, and should not be made lightly. (shrink)
One of the dominant themes of the symposium from which this collection of articles arose was the ontological status of consent. Is consent a particular state of mind? Is it the signification of that state of mind via a conventionally recognized act? Or, is consent a normative concept that evaluates not only the presence of a state of mind or act, but also the appropriateness of that state of mind or act in the particular circumstances?
I will divide my discussion into two. In the first part I will discuss Godin and Gingras's delicious claim that the experimenter's regress is anticipated by Sextus Empiricus's formulation of scepticism. In the second part, I will try to deal with Godin and Gingras's ‘critical argument’, that the experimenter's regress would be redundant if we were less concerned with ‘frightening philosophers’.
The notion of patients’ duties has received periodic scholarly attention but remains overwhelmed by attention to the duties of healthcare professionals. In a previous paper the author argued that patients in publicly funded healthcare systems have a duty to participate in clinical research, arising from their debt to previous patients. Here the author proposes a greatly extended range of patients’ duties grounding their moral force distinctively in the interests of contemporary and future patients, since medical treatment offered to one patient (...) is always liable to be an opportunity cost in terms of medical treatment needed by other patients. This generates both negative and positive duties. Ten duties—enjoining obligations ranging from participation in healthcare schemes to promoting one’s own earliest recovery from illness—are proposed. The characteristics of these duties, including their basis, moral force, extent and enforceability, are considered. They are tested against a range of objections—principled, societal, epistemological and practical—and found to survive. Finally, the paper suggests that these duties could be thought to reinforce a regrettably adversarial characteristic, shared with rights-based approaches, and that a preferable alternative might be sought through the notion of a “virtuous patient” contributing to a problem-solving partnership with the clinician. However, in defining and giving content to that partnership, there is a clear role for most, if not all, of the proposed duties; their value thus extends beyond the adversarial context in which they might first be thought to arise. (shrink)
Introduction In 2007, a national review committee was instituted in The Netherlands to review cases of active ending of life for newborns. It was expected that 15–20 cases would be reported. To date, however, only one case has been reported to this committee. Reporting is essential to obtain societal control and transparency; the possible explanations for this lack of reporting were therefore explored. Methods Data on end-of-life decision-making were scrutinised from Dutch nation-wide studies (1995, 2001 and 2005), before institution of (...) the committee. Physicians received a questionnaire about their medical decision-making for stratified samples of deceased infants up to 1 year, drawn from the central death registry. Results In 2005, 58% of all deaths were preceded by an end-of-life decision, compared with 68% in 2001 and 62% in 1995. The use of drugs with a possible life-shortening effect tended to be lower. In 2005, all four cases in the study in which an infants' life was actively ended were preceded by a decision to forego life-prolonging treatment. In three cases, the infant's life expectancy was short; one case involved a longer life expectancy. Discussion The expected number of cases is probably an overestimation due to changes in medical practice such as the tendency to attribute less life-shortening effects to opioids. The lack of reports is probably also associated with requirements in the regulation; it may be difficult to fulfil them due either to time constraints or the nature of the suffering that is addressed. If societal control of active ending of life is considered useful, changes in the regulation may be needed. (shrink)