According to the "sanctity-of-life" view, all human lives are equally valuable and inviolable, and it would be wrong to base life-and-death medical decisions on the quality of the patient's life. Examining the ideas and assumptions behind the sanctity-of-life view, Kuhse argues against the traditional view that allowing someone to die is morally different from killing, and shows that quality-of-life judgments are ubiquitous. Refuting the sanctity-of-life view, she provides a sketch of a quality-of-life ethics based on the belief that there is (...) a profound difference between merely being alive and life being in the patient's interest. (shrink)
The association of women with caring dispositions and thinking has become a persistent theme in recent feminist writing. There are a number of reasons for this. One reason is the impetus that has been provided by the empirical work of Carol Gilligan on women’s moral development. The fact that this association is not merely an ideologically or philosophically postulated one, but is argued for on empirical grounds, tends to add to its credibility. Another reason for the resilience of the association (...) is the existence of an increasingly prominent theme in feminist thought and action that focuses on the importance of women’s difference from men, both as a fact and as a goal. Within this theme, there are various views on what the relevant differences are between women and men, and why the differences ought to be emphasized and properly respected. Women’s caring, as will be seen, turns out to have a ﬁrm presence in all of these views, and as a result, many women argue that caring should form the basis of a distinctive feminist ethic. On these views, women’s approaches to understanding moral situations, deﬁning selfconceptions, choosing goals and roles, and guiding behaviour, should all be informed by and based upon dispositions of caring. However, if this idea of a feminist ethic of care is to be plausible, it will need to be reconciled with another strong theme in feminism, according to which in fundamental moral respects women ought not be considered or treated differently from men. We will examine the standing of a feminist ethic of care in the context of this tension between the difference theme and the sameness theme in feminism. The discussion begins by re-characterizing the justice and care debate in terms of impartialist and partialist ethical perspectives, and it then goes on to indicate the various ways in which women’s presumed disposition to caring and partialism ﬁnds prominence within the difference theme. The central focus of the discussion, however, will be the question of how to reconcile the conﬂict that exists between impartialist, justice-based moral thinking, and a partialist, caring approach to morality.. (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)
: In this paper, I consider objections to advance directives based on the claim that there is a discontinuity of interests, and of personal identity, between the time a person executes an advance directive and the time when the patient has become severely demented. Focusing narrowly on refusals of life-sustaining treatment for severely demented patients, I argue that acceptance of the psychological view of personal identity does not entail that treatment refusals should be overridden. Although severely demented patients are morally (...) considerable beings, and must be kept comfortable whilst alive, they no longer have an interest in receiving life-sustaining treatment. (shrink)
The philosophical debate over the moral difference between killing and letting die has obvious relevance for the contemporary public debate over voluntary euthanasia. Winston Nesbitt claims to have shown that killing someone is, other things being equal, always worse than allowing someone to die. But this conclusion is illegitimate. While Nesbitt is correct when he suggests that killing is sometimes worse than letting die, this is not always the case. In this article, I argue that there are occasions when it (...) is better to kill than to let die. (shrink)
To give priority to the young over the elderly has been labelled ‘ageism’. People who express ‘ageist’ preferences may feel that, all else equal, an individual has greater right to enjoy additional life years the fewer life years he or she has already had. We shall refer to this asegalitarian ageism. They may also emphasise the greater expected duration of health benefits in young people that derives from their greater life expectancy. We may call thisutilitarian ageism. Both these forms of (...) ageism were observed in an empirical study of social preferences in Australia. The study lends some support to the assumptions in the QALY approach that duration of benefits, and hence old age, should count in prioritising at the budget level in health care. (shrink)
According to a contemporary school of thought there is a specific female approach to ethics which is based not on abstract “male” ethical principles or rules, but on “care”. Nurses have taken a keen interest in these female approaches to ethics. Drawing on the views expounded by Carol Gilligan and Nel Noddings, nurses claim that a female “ethics of care” better captures their moral experiences than a traditional male “ethics of justice”. This paper argues that “care” is best understood in (...) a dispositional sense, that is, as sensitivity and responsiveness to the particularities of a situation and the needs of “concrete” others. While “care”, in this sense, is necessary for ethics, it is not sufficient. Ethics needs “justice” as well as “care”. If women and nurses excessively devalue principles and norms, they will be left without the theoretical tools to condemn some actions or practices, and to defend others. They will, like generations of nurses before them, be condemned to silence. (shrink)
It is widely believed that reproductive human cloning is morally wrong and should be prohibited because it infringes on human uniqueness, individuality, freedom and personal identity. The philosophical and ethical discussion has, however, shown that it is far more difficult than might initially be supposed to sustain arguments against cloning on these and related grounds. More recently, a potentially viable argument, initially put forward by Hans Jonas, has regained new prominence. The argument holds that cloning is wrong because it denies (...) the clone an `open future', that is, the ability to freely shape her own personal identity, life plans, self-chosen goals, etc. After a critical exposition of the argument, I argue as follows: If one understands the Open Future Argument as an argument about the welfare of the cloned child, then it cannot show that cloning harms the child in a person-affecting sense of harming and benefiting. If, on the other hand, one understands the argument in a non-person-affecting sense, then some, but not all, reproductive cloning decisions can be shown to be wrong. The argument does not show, however, that cloning ought to be prohibited by law. While cloning, like other widely accepted reproductive decisions, will sometimes fail to minimize harm to `the child', such acts â to the extent that they do not constitute harm in a person-affecting sense â ought to be tolerated by proponents of the Open Future Argument. Attempts to prohibit reproductive choices on the basis that they are not optimal, will undermine the same set of values that the Open Future Argument seeks to uphold. (shrink)
Impartialism in ethics has been said to be the common ground shared by both Kantian and utilitarian approaches to ethics. Lawrence Blum describes this common ground as follows: Both views identify morality with a perspective of impartiality, impersonality, objectivity and universality. Both views imply the ‘ubiquity of impartiality” – that our commitments and projects derive their legitimacy only by reference to this impartial perspective.
This second edition of _A Companion to Bioethics,_ fully revised and updated to reflect the current issues and developments in the field, covers all the material that the reader needs to thoroughly grasp the ideas and debates involved in bioethics. Thematically organized around an unparalleled range of issues, including discussion of the moral status of embryos and fetuses, new genetics, life and death, resource allocation, organ donations, AIDS, human and animal experimentation, health care, and teaching Now includes new essays on (...) currently controversial topics such as cloning and genetic enhancement Topics are clearly and compellingly presented by internationally renowned bioethicists A detailed index allows the reader to find terms and topics not listed in the titles of the essays themselves. (shrink)
We examine the view that all human life is of equal worth or sanctity. We find that this view is a legacy of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and cannot be justified in non-religious terms. We therefore argue that it should be rejected, and that we should openly acknowledge that some lives are of less worth than others. We then consider a common objection: that this will lead us down a slippery slope to Nazi-style atrocities. We give our reasons for finding this (...) objection unpersuasive. We explain why no-one has any grounds for feeling threatened by our proposal. Finally we discuss who should make the decision involved in selecting whether a person should come into existence, and how that decision should be carried out. (shrink)
This article presents an empirical study of approaches to ethical decision-making among nurses and doctors. It takes as its starting point the distinction between the perspectives of care and of justice in ethical thinking, and the view that nurses' thinking will be aligned with the former and doctors' with the latter. It goes on to argue that the differences in these approaches are best understood in terms of the distinction between partialist and impartialist modes of moral thinking. The study seeks (...) to determine the distribution of these modes of thinking between nurses and doctors, and finds that there are no signif icant differences between them. A 'two-level' philosophical view of the nature of moral thinking is appealed to in order to explain the study findings. (shrink)
What proportion of available healthcare funds should be allocated to hip replacement operations and what proportion to psychiatric care? What proportion should go to cardiac patients and what to newborns in intensive care? What proportion should go to preventative medicine and what to treating existing conditions? In general, how should limited healthcare resources be distributed If not all demands can be met?
In Abortion and Infanticide, Michael Tooley argues that it is not wrong to destroy potential persons, such as fetuses and newly born infants. His argument presupposes the following: 1)that the destruction of potential persons is not directly wrong because potential persons do not have a right to life; 2)that destroying a potential person—a fetus or an infant—is morally the same as preventing the existence of an possible person by, for example, using a contraceptive or refraining from, intercourse during a woman's (...) fertile period; and 3)that it is not wrong to prevent the existence of additional persons who are likely to lead happy or satisfying lives. Here I am concerned with the third presupposition. On this presupposition, the prima facie permissibility of abortion and infanticide hinges on the “moral neutrality” of those of our reproductive decisions on which the existence of additional people depends. (shrink)
It has recently been suggested that doctors have a duty to act in their patient's best interest and that this duty demands that life-sustaining treatment—including food and fluids—should sometimes be withheld or withdrawn and the patient allowed to die. In this article, the author explores the scope of the ‘best interests principle’ in the context of treatment decisions for seriously handicapped newborn infants. She argues that those who hold that it is permissible to starve or dehydrate an infant to death (...) are mistaken to think that this course of action is in the infant's best interests. While it may be true that there are times whendeath is, everything considered, in an infant's best interests, a slow and distressingmethod of bringing death about is not. Since death by dehydration and starvation is not benign, the withholding of food and fluids is generally not in an infant's best interests. The author concludes by suggesting thatwhenever the withdrawal or non-employment of life-sustaining means imposes a heavy burden on the infant, the ‘best interests principle’ would demand that the infant be killed rather than allowed to die. (shrink)