Hell is other people. This miserable-sounding soundbite, the moment of revelation in Jean- Paul Sartre’s shortest play, must be the most quoted line of twentieth-century philosophy. Not even Jacques Derrida’s claim that ‘there is nothing beyond the text’, fondly cherished in some regions of academia, has anything like the cultural reach of what is often taken to be the quintessential Sartrean slogan. And the analytic tradition hardly abounds in snappy lines: meaning just ain’t in the head, to be is to (...) be the value of a variable, and that’s about it. You’ll not sell many of those t-shirts. Part of the appeal of Sartre’s slogan lies, of course, in the fact that we are all regularly annoyed by each other. We think we can see better ways of doing what only other people have the power to do. Your schemes can clash with mine in ways that prevent me from achieving my goals and living my dreams. People can look down on me. (shrink)
The introduction of non-invasive prenatal testing in healthcare systems around the world offers an opportunity to reconsider funding policies for prenatal screening. In some countries with universal access healthcare systems, pregnant women and their partners are asked to pay for NIPT. In this paper, we discuss two important rationales for charging women for NIPT: to prevent increased uptake of NIPT and to promote informed choice. First, given the aim of prenatal screening, high or low uptake rates are not intrinsically desirable (...) or undesirable. Using funding policies to negatively affect uptake, however, is at odds with the aim of screening. Furthermore, copayment disproportionally affects those of lower socioeconomic status, which conflicts with justice requirements and impedes equal access to prenatal screening. Second, we argue that although payment models may influence pregnant women’s choice behaviours and perceptions of the relevance of NIPT, the copayment requirement does not necessarily lead to better-informed choices. On the contrary, external influences on women’s personal choices for or against prenatal screening should ideally be avoided. To improve informed decision-making, healthcare systems should instead invest in adequate non-directive, value-focused pretest counselling. This paper concludes that requiring copayments for NIPT in universal access healthcare systems fails to promote reproductive autonomy and is unfair. (shrink)
In the debate surrounding the introduction of non-invasive prenatal testing in prenatal screening programmes, the concept of routinisation is often used to refer to concerns and potential negative consequences of the test. A literature analysis shows that routinisation has many different meanings, which can be distinguished in three major versions of the concept. Each of these versions comprises several inter-related fears and concerns regarding prenatal screening and particularly regarding NIPT in three areas: informed choice, freedom to choose and consequences for (...) people with a disability. Three of the strongest arguments raised under the flag of routinisation are assessed for their validity: the threat that NIPT poses to informed choice, the potential increase in uptake of first-trimester prenatal screening and its consequences for social pressure to participate in screening or terminate affected pregnancies, and the negative consequences for disabled people. These routinisation arguments lack empirical or normative ground. However, the results of this analysis do not imply that no attention should be paid to possible problems surrounding the introduction of NIPT. At least two problems remain and should be addressed: there should be an ongoing debate about the requirements of informed choice, particularly related to an expanded scope of prenatal screening. Also, reproductive autonomy can only be achieved when expecting parents’ options are variegated, real and valuable, so that they can continue to choose whether or not to screen or to terminate a pregnancy. (shrink)
There is an increasing interest in the possibility of using nudges to promote people's health. Following the advances in developmental biology and epigenetics, it is clear that one's health is not always the result of one's own choices. In the period surrounding pregnancy, maternal choice behaviour has a significant influence on perinatal morbidity and mortality as well as the development of chronic diseases later in life. One's health is thus a matter of one's own as well as one's maternal choices. (...) Therefore, self-regarding and other-regarding nudges should be considered as viable strategies to promote health. In this article, we introduce the concept of other-regarding nudges. We use the harm principle and the principle of beneficence to justify these other-regarding nudges. We conclude by stressing the importance of a fair assessment of expectations towards the nudgee, when determining whether a nudge is aimed at preventing harm or promoting a good. (shrink)
It is widely agreed among health professionals that couples using donor insemination should be offered counselling on the topic of donor conception disclosure. However, it is clear from the literature that there has long been a lack of agreement about which counselling approach should be used in this case: a directive or a non-directive approach. In this paper we investigate which approach is ethically justifiable by balancing the two underlying principles of autonomy and beneficence. To overrule one principle in favour (...) of another, six conditions should be fulfilled. We analyse the arguments in favour of the beneficence principle, and consequently, a directive approach. This analysis shows that two conditions are not met; the principle of autonomy should not be overridden. Therefore, at this moment, a directive counselling approach on donor conception disclosure cannot be ethically justified. (shrink)
As thousands of healthy research participants are being included in small and large imaging studies, it is essential that dilemmas raised by the detection of incidental findings are adequately handled. Current ethical guidance indicates that pathways for dealing with incidental findings should be in place, but does not specify what such pathways should look like. Building on an interview study of researchers’ practices and perspectives, we identified key considerations for the set-up of pathways for the detection, management and communication of (...) incidental findings in imaging research. We conducted an interview study with a purposive sample of researchers at research facilities across the Netherlands. Based on a qualitative analysis of these interviews and on existing guidelines found in the literature, we developed a prototype ethical framework, which was critically assessed and fine-tuned during a two-day international expert meeting with bioethicists and representatives from large population-based imaging studies from the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden and Belgium. Practices and policies for the handling of incidental findings vary strongly across the Netherlands, ranging from no review of research scans and limited feedback to research participants, to routine review of scans and the arrangement of clinical follow-up. Respondents felt that researchers do not have a duty to actively look for incidental findings, but they do have a duty to act on findings, when detected. The principle of reciprocity featured prominently in our interviews and expert meeting. We present an ethical framework that may guide researchers and research ethics committees in the design and/or evaluation of appropriate pathways for the handling of incidental findings in imaging studies. The framework consists of seven steps: anticipation of findings, information provision and informed consent, scan acquisition, review of scans, consultation on detected abnormalities, communication of the finding, and further clinical management and follow-up of the research participant. Each of these steps represents a key decision to be made by researchers, which should be justified not only with reference to costs and/or logistical considerations, but also with reference to researchers’ moral obligations and the principle of reciprocity. (shrink)
For each research protocol that they review, institutional review boards must assess whether the risks of the protocol are acceptable in relation to the potential direct benefits to study participants and/or society. This requirement means that an IRB should first identify risks that are not compensated by direct benefits to the subjects and then judge whether these so-called net risks are acceptable in relation to the benefits to society. We argue that the conventional approach to risk-benefit assessment is not accurate (...) enough to identify all net risks involved in any given protocol. Two relatively new approaches—the component analysis approach and the net risks test—can be of much more use to review boards, especially when used together. (shrink)
In the Netherlands fertility doctors increasingly formulate protocols, which oblige patients to quit their unhealthy lifestyle before they are admitted to IVF procedures. We argue that moral arguments could justify parenting protocols that concern all future parents. In the first part we argue that want-to-be parents have moral responsibilities towards their future children to prevent them from harm by diminishing or eliminating risk factors before as well as during the pregnancy. This is because of the future children's potential to become (...) of a certain type, more specifically: a person that will be the want-to-be parents' child. Want-to-be parents intend to become pregnant and therefore have an additional moral reason to diminish the risks. Also, people who become pregnant unintentionally have the responsibility to prevent their children from harm, unless they become pregnant due to contraception failure. All people not wanting to become pregnant should use contraception methods carefully.In the second part of this paper we translate the want-to-be parents' responsibilities into practice. We distinguish four determinants of risk factors: modifiability, chance, severity and effort. We examine some evidence-based risk factors based on these variables and deduce levels of responsibility.In conclusion, formulating informal requirements for want-to-be parents is morally required and therefore also for want-to-be parents in need of medical assistance. The protocols developed by fertility doctors in the Netherlands could be seen as the precursor for a general, informal Parenting Protocol that could be developed on the basis of an extended and thoroughly debated risk-responsibility analysis. (shrink)
Over the last few decades there has been a revival of interest in virtue ethics, with the emphasis on the virtuous caregiver. This paper deals with the ‘virtuous patient’, specifically the patient with End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). We believe that a virtue approach provides insights not available to current methods of studying coping styles and coping strategies. Data are derived from seven semi-structured in-depth interviews. The transcripts of the interviews were subjected to an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). The focus (...) of the analysis was on ‘living well with chronic illness’. It appears that the moral challenges faced by patients with an ESRD are manifold. When they are invited to tell the story of their illness, they do not explicitly speak of virtues, but they often refer to moral qualities, and to attitudes that can be regarded as virtuous. We identify several such concepts in the narratives of patients with ESRD. We conclude that the Aristotelian model of virtue ethics is particularly descriptively (and possibly also normatively) relevant to the explanation of the life narratives and the moral challenges of patients with an ESRD. (shrink)
Retractions solicited by authors following the discovery of an unintentional error—what we henceforth call a “self-retraction”—are a new phenomenon of growing importance, about which very little is known. Here we present results of a small qualitative study aimed at gaining preliminary insights about circumstances, motivations and beliefs that accompanied the experience of a self-retraction. We identified retraction notes that unambiguously reported an honest error and that had been published between the years 2010 and 2015. We limited our sample to retractions (...) with at least one co-author based in the Netherlands, Belgium, United Kingdom, Germany or a Scandinavian country, and we invited these authors to a semi-structured interview. Fourteen authors accepted our invitation. Contrary to our initial assumptions, most of our interviewees had not originally intended to retract their paper. They had contacted the journal to request a correction and the decision to retract had been made by journal editors. All interviewees reported that having to retract their own publication made them concerned for their scientific reputation and career, often causing considerable stress and anxiety. Interviewees also encountered difficulties in communicating with the journal and recalled other procedural issues that had unnecessarily slowed down the process of self-retraction. Intriguingly, however, all interviewees reported how, contrary to their own expectations, the self-retraction had brought no damage to their reputation and in some cases had actually improved it. We also examined the ethical motivations that interviewees ascribed, retrospectively, to their actions and found that such motivations included a combination of moral and prudential considerations. These preliminary results suggest that scientists would welcome innovations to facilitate the process of self-retraction. (shrink)
Given the plethora of weight loss interventions, Devine and Barnhill rightly propose to also investigate unintended consequences. I agree. Some questions need to be raised: unintended consequences is a messy concept. How to distinguish between surprises and pseudo-unintended consequences? How to make sure that such research is not a box-ticking formality? And will results be implemented?
Stuart, Jennie Review(s) of: Hands off not an option! The reminiscence museum mirror of a humanistic care philosophy, by Professor Dr Hans Marcel Becker assisted by Inez van den Dobbelsteen- Becker and Topsy Ros. Eburon Academic Publishers, Delft, 2011 272 pp.
This article describes the long-term trends in marital status mortality differences in the Netherlands using a unique dataset relating to the period 1850–1970. Poisson regression analysis was applied to calculate relative mortality risks by marital status. For two periods, cause-of-death by marital status could be used. Clear differences in mortality by marital status were observed, with strongly increasing advantages for married men and women and a relative increase in the mortality of widowed compared with non-married people. Excess mortality among single (...) and formerly married men and women was visible in many cause-of-death categories, and this became more widespread during the last decades of the nineteenth century. Hypotheses are formulated that might explain why married men and women underwent a stronger decrease in mortality up until the end of World War II. (shrink)
Part 12: The fall of the house of ethics‘Sometimes a cliché is the best way to make ones point’From: Whatever works.For some seconds Gordon is blinded by the lights the television crews direct at him. More than 20 cameras focus on him, and one journalist yells “there he is!” Even Gordon is not used to that much attention, but vanity is a speedy advisor. Within seconds he has clad himself in the aura of important person, and knowledgeable ethicist, even if (...) he has no idea what that many journalists expect from him at precisely this moment. Particularly when he has little time, preparing for the world conference on bioethics in Singapore. Then a wave of disappointment hits the gathered gossip-mongering press. The floodlights are turned off, microphones are lowered, the buzzing quiets down.“Guys, this is not Testosterone Tony.”This Tony, the athlete who participated in the Olympic Games in Beijing, at that moment leaves the hospital by a back door, far away from the paparazzi. The armoured car of his sponsor Nanosock disappears from sight softly humming and brings him to a private clinic where he will be pampered and detoxified. His career in sports is over, but his reputation can certainly sell sports socks with nanofibres against sweaty feet. The only price he has to pay is to admit he has sweaty feet, not true, but a small price to pay considering the alternatives. In front of the hospital the disappointed and somewhat offended Gordon tries to save his ego and asks the journalists:“Maybe I can be of help? Do you want an ethical analysis of Testosterone Tony and enhancing evolution? My name is Gordon Mc….” Nobody listens, nobody reacts.A day later. Nurses Jake and Gwen return from the medication round. Jake looks at the unlit room in the Nuttree …. (shrink)
Many in education suggest that to have studentsadopt healthy and active lifestyles, then theymust be offered meaning rich physical activityexperiences. This paper adds to thisconversation in two ways. First, this paperadds depth and richness to traditionalconceptualizations of the meaning in movement.In doing so, we interrogate the physical,cognitive and affective meaning that studentsmay derive from participation in movement.Second, this paper examines the role ofphysical activity in theme-based, integratedcurriculum. We highlight how physical activitycan be incorporated into theme-based units insubstantial and non-trivial ways.
The idea that experience is essentially subjective rather than of the real world is paradoxical and deeply flawed. The external world is, much more than a mere constraint, essential to meaningfully describe experience and neural activity. This is illustrated by an analysis of the phenomenology of veridical perception and by the study of experience in psychopathology by the Experience Sampling Method (ESM).
ABSTRACTIn the Netherlands fertility doctors increasingly formulate protocols, which oblige patients to quit their unhealthy lifestyle before they are admitted to IVF procedures. We argue that moral arguments could justify parenting protocols that concern all future parents. In the first part we argue that want‐to‐be parents have moral responsibilities towards their future children to prevent them from harm by diminishing or eliminating risk factors before as well as during the pregnancy. This is because of the future children's potential to become (...) of a certain type, more specifically: a person that will be the want‐to‐be parents' child. Want‐to‐be parents intend to become pregnant and therefore have an additional moral reason to diminish the risks. Also, people who become pregnant unintentionally have the responsibility to prevent their children from harm, unless they become pregnant due to contraception failure. All people not wanting to become pregnant should use contraception methods carefully.In the second part of this paper we translate the want‐to‐be parents' responsibilities into practice. We distinguish four determinants of risk factors: modifiability, chance, severity and effort. We examine some evidence‐based risk factors based on these variables and deduce levels of responsibility.In conclusion, formulating informal requirements for want‐to‐be parents is morally required and therefore also for want‐to‐be parents in need of medical assistance. The protocols developed by fertility doctors in the Netherlands could be seen as the precursor for a general, informal Parenting Protocol that could be developed on the basis of an extended and thoroughly debated risk‐responsibility analysis. (shrink)