Moral psychology studies the features of cognition, judgement, perception and emotion that make human beings capable of moral action. Perspectives from feminist and race theory immensely enrich moral psychology. Writers who take these perspectives ask questions about mind, feeling, and action in contexts of social difference and unequal power and opportunity. These essays by a distinguished international cast of philosophers explore moral psychology as it connects to social life, scientific studies, and literature.
Midway in Martha Holstein’s article, these words occur: “[P]eople [should] get the help they need, when they need it, in the way that they would like to receive it, without exploiting family members or imperiling their dignity or self-respect” (24). In an essay that brims over with worrisome news, that this seemingly anodyne sentence appears in the section devoted to utopian thinking is perhaps the most dispiriting thought it conveys. Not that there isn’t keen competition for the role. Holstein reminds (...) her readers that the roots of the present and building crisis in long-term care sink deeply into an ideology especially entrenched in the United States; she suggests, as well, that the pernicious norms .. (shrink)
Fifteen original essays open up a novel area of inquiry: the distinctively ethical dimensions of women's experiences of and in aging. Contributors distinguished in the fields of feminist ethics and the ethics of aging explore assumptions, experiences, practices, and public policies that affect women's well-being and dignity in later life. The book brings to the study of women's aging a reflective dimension missing from the empirical work that has predominated to date. Ethical studies of aging have so far failed to (...) emphasize gender. And feminist ethics has neglected older women, even when emphasizing other dimensions of 'difference.' Finally work on aging in all fields has focused on the elderly, while this volume sees aging as an extended process of negotiating personal and social change. (shrink)
The Patient in the Family diagnoses the ways in which the worlds of home and hospital misunderstand each other. The authors explore how medicine, through its new reproductive technologies, is altering the stucture of families, how families can participate more fully in medical decision-making, and how to understand the impact on families of medical advances to extend life but not vitality.
This essay discusses the origins, biases, and effects on contemporary discussions of economics and ethics of the unexamined use of the metaphor an economy is a machine. Both neoliberal economics and many critiques of capitalist systems take this metaphor as their starting point. The belief that economies run according to universal laws of motion, however, is shown to be based on a variety of rationalist thinking that – while widely held – is inadequate for explaining lived human experience. Feminist scholarship (...) in the philosophy of science and economics has brought to light some of the biases that have supported the mechanistic worldview. Possible alternatives to the an economy is a machine include an economy is a creative process and an economy is an organism. Such metaphors are intellectually defensible as guides to scientific inquiry and provide a richer ground for moral imagination. (shrink)
: Can work be done for pay, and still be loving? While many feminists believe that marketization inevitably leads to a degradation of social connections, we suggest that markets are themselves forms of social organization, and that even relationships of unequal power can sometimes include mutual respect. We call for increased attention to specific causes of suffering, such as greed, poverty, and subordination. We conclude with a summary of contributions to this Special Issue.
The authority of surrogates—often close family members—to make treatment decisions for previously capacitated patients is said to come from their knowledge of the patient, which they are to draw on as they exercise substituted judgment on the patient’s behalf. However, proxy accuracy studies call this authority into question, hence the Patient Preference Predictor (PPP). We identify two problems with contemporary understandings of the surrogate’s role. The first is with the assumption that knowledge of the patient entails knowledge of what the (...) patient’s choice of treatment would be. The second is with the assumption that a good decision reproduces the content of that choice. If we are right, then the PPP, helpful though it might be in guiding surrogates’ decisions, nevertheless would hold them to the wrong standards and in that way could add to, rather than relieve, the stress they experience as they try to do their job. (shrink)
This volume is fourth in the series of annuals created under the auspices of The Association for Feminist Ethics and Social Theory . The topics covered herein_from peacekeeping and terrorism, to sex trafficking and women's paid labor, to poverty and religious fundamentalism_are vital to women and to feminist movements throughout the world.
Let me make it clear from the outset that my main point is not either of the following: one, that there should be more women economists and research on “women's issues”, or two, that women as a class do, or should do, economics in a manner different from men. My argument is different and has to do with trying to gain an understanding of how a certain way of thinking about gender and a certain way of thinking about economics have (...) become intertwined through metaphor – with detrimental results – and how a richer conception of human understanding and human identity could broaden and improve the field of economics for both female and male practitioners. (shrink)
A certain pupil with the vaguely Kafkaesque name B has mastered the series of natural numbers. B's new task is to learn how to write down other series of cardinal numbers and right now, we're working on the series "+2." After a bit, B seems to catch on, but we are unusually thorough teachers and keep him at it. Things are going just fine until he reaches 1000. Then, quite confounding us, he writes 1004, 1008, 1012."We say to him: 'Look (...) what you've done!'—He doesn't understand. We say: 'You were meant to add two: look how you began the series!'—He answers: 'Yes, isn't it right? I thought that was how I was meant to do it.'"1B may be an "abnormal learner," but he's not unique among learners in literature. Another .. (shrink)
In her final fragmentary novel Sanditon, Jane Austen develops a theme that pervades her work from her juvenilia onward: illness, and in particular, illness imagined, invented, or self-inflicted. While the “invention of odd complaints” is characteristically a token of folly or weakness throughout her writing, in this last work imagined illness is also both a symbol and a cause of how selves and societies degenerate. In the shifting world of Sanditon, hypochondria is the lubricant for a society bent on turning (...) health into a commodity. As a result, people’s rationality and their moral character come under attack. Catherine Belling’s recent subtle study, A Condition of Doubt: The Meanings of Hypochondria, unveils hypochondria’s discursive and cultural character. Running sharply against the tenor of Austen’s treatment, however, she argues in defense of the rationality of hypochondriacs; the notion that the condition may involve morally significant defects is not entertained; any connection to the commercialization of health care is muted. Here, I contrast Austen’s morally and epistemically negative rendering of her hypochondriacal characters in Sanditon with Belling’s efforts to create a sympathetic understanding of people with hypochondria. I will argue that, despite time gaps and genre differences, joint consideration of these texts can help bioethicists better appreciate how medicine can intensify, pathologize, and exploit anxieties about illness and death, thus adding to the challenges of living well in the face of mortality and morbidity. (shrink)
Both of the main points in Professor Murphy's paper seem to me clearly and effectively argued.1 It is incontrovertible that some people find hurtful the use of medical technologies to avoid the birth of children who, in the present order of things, would be disabled. No result from the philosophy of language, or anywhere else for that matter, can plausibly show otherwise. Indeed, even to speak of ‘legitimately interpreting’ events that cause one pain as ‘hurtful’, as Murphy does, seems a (...) shade too conciliatory to any who has the temerity to doubt this matter: typically, at least, I don't interpret a state of affairs as hurtful. I experience it so—or not.He's quite right to point out as well that the fact that someone's actions cause another to feel hurt does not, on its own, imply much of anything about the action's propriety. There are many serious people who are deeply distressed by others' reproductive choices that have nothing to do with disability: terminating a pregnancy for any reason causes some people considerable pain. Yet there seems no reason whatever to regard that pain, considered on its own, as a reason that—at least in general terms—should bear on a person's decision concerning whether or not to give birth to the fetus that she is gestating.Expressivist arguments, so understood, then, seem to have had their measure taken. If anyone had the temerity to think that no one is hurt by choices to avoid or end pregnancies because they might lead to the birth of a child who would be disabled, they can drop that thought right now. On the other hand, if someone thought that the hurt suffered by such people constitutes a serious reason for restricting what others can find out about their potential or actual pregnancies, or …. (shrink)
During 2006, a total of 130,527 Americans spent time on organ waiting lists; 7,191 of them died waiting. According to the U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, 104,778 people are awaiting organs as this is being written (www.optn.org/data/; accessed November 4, 2009); every ninety minutes or so, one of them will die.In Spain, however, waiting list time is much shorter, and accordingly, very few die for the want of an organ; roughly thirty-five people per million provide organs in Spain upon (...) their deaths, a rate that dwarfs participation in the United States (usually cited at roughly twenty-two people per million)—and close to everywhere else as well. Among the benefits reaped by the Spanish: during .. (shrink)
In the portion of their reply directed to me, Professor Asch and Dr. Wasserman helpfully develop the synecdoche argument by highlighting its connections to stigma. I understand them to distinguish the situation of a woman making a decision concerning her pregnancy informed by prenatal testing from a woman making a similar decision informed by considerations of, for example, poverty, like so: In testing contexts, it will characteristically be the case that the woman's decision will be distorted by the stigma associated (...) with impairment: She will consider only the fact that, should her pregnancy come to term, the child would be impaired; she will not be able to attend in a satisfactory manner to a fuller range of possible features, both good and bad, that may characterize the child's life and her experience of being the child's parent. The woman considering whether to terminate her pregnancy due to, say, poverty will, in contrast, typically be able to deliberate in ways more responsive to a broader range of relevant matters, as the possible child's poverty will not be the only thing she is in a position to take into account about her or his life and their life together. Further, even where poverty or some other factor influencing decisions about terminating or continuing pregnancy are stigmatizing, they are not as thoroughly stigmatizing as are impairment-related conditions, due to prevalent confusions about the immutability of traits seen as biological rather than social. (shrink)
I TRY TO EXPLAIN WHY THE "ESSAY OF MIRACLES" DID NOT APPEAR IN THE "TREATISE" BUT DID IN THE "ENQUIRY". I ARGUE THAT THE ESSAY WAS ORIGINALLY DIRECTED AGAINST REVEALED KNOWLEDGE; SO DIRECTED, IT FITTED INTO THE TIGHTLY ORGANIZED PROGRAM OF THE "TREATISE", BUT HAD TO BE SUPPRESSED FOR PRUDENTIAL REASONS. RECONSTRUCTED AS AN ESSAY DIRECTED MERELY AGAINST NON-SCRIPTURAL MIRACLES ITS APPEARANCE IN THE "ENQUIRY" PRESENTED NO PHILOSOPHICAL OR PRUDENTIAL DIFFICULTIES.
I present a way of thinking about gender that I have found helpful in evaluating various proposed feminist projects. By considering gender and value as independent dimensions, relationships of "difference" can be more clearly perceived as involving relationships of lack, of complementarity, or of perversion. I illustrate the use of my gender/value "compass" with applications to questions of self-identity, rationality, and knowledge. This way of thinking about gender allows a conceptualization of feminism that neither erases nor emphasizes gender distinctions.
Is human cognition best described by optimal models, or by adaptive but suboptimal heuristic strategies? It is frequently hard to identify which theoretical model is normatively best justified. In the context of information search, naoptimal” models.
The article by Professor Baergen and Dr. Woodhouse makes a succinct and serious contribution to progress in bioethical understanding of deciding for others. They begin with what is by now a familiar claim: family proxy decision makers may sometimes make decisions on behalf of incapacitated relatives that depart from what might be optimal from the patient’s point of view, since the well-being of family members, or of the family as such, may be substantially affected by the direction of a patient’s (...) care. They then develop this idea, noting that others apart from family members can also be substantially affected by a patient’s treatment, and arguing that the interests of strangers ought also to sometimes have a role in determining the aims and means of a patient’s treatment. Baergen and Woodhouse also devote attention to how extra-familial interests might be implemented in medical decision making. While I unearth a troubling consequence of the effort to realize their theoretical conclusion practically, my chief task is to point to some disanalogies between families and strangers, and consider the extent to which they call into question the relevance of the interests of strangers to the treatment of patients. (shrink)
Some 14 years ago, I published an article in which I identified a prime site for bioethicists to ply their trade: medical responses to requests for hormonal and surgical interventions aimed at facilitating transgendered people’s transition to their desired genders. Deep issues about the impact of biotechnologies and health care practices on central aspects of our conceptual system, I argued, were raised by how doctors understood and responded to people seeking medical assistance in changing their gender, and there were obviously (...) significant issues of regulation involved as well. Yet mainstream bioethics was conspicuous by its relative absence from the discussion. Here, I return to the matter and find that, while the conceptual issues are just as profound and their connection to health care practice and policy just as intimate, even as transgender issues have become much more socially visible, bioethical engagement with gender reassignment has increased only slightly. I set the little movement that has occurred against the backdrop of the situation as I saw it in 1998 and conclude, once again, by trying to make the bait for bioethicists inviting. (shrink)
Surrogate motherhood-at least if carefully structured to protect the interests of the women involved-seems defensible along standard liberal lines which place great stress on free agreements as moral bedrocks. But feminist theories have tended to be suspicious about the importance assigned to this notion by mainstream ethics, and in this paper, we develop implications of those suspicions for surrogacy. We argue that the practice is inconsistent with duties parents owe to children and that it compromises the freedom of surrogates to (...) perform their share of those duties. Standard liberal perspectives tend to be insensitive to such considerations; we propose a view which takes more seriously the moral importance of the causal relationship between parents and children, and which therefore illuminates rather than obscures the stake that women and children have in surrogacy. (shrink)
Most people accept that if they can save someone from death at very little cost to themselves, they must do so; call this the ‘duty of easy rescue.’ At least for many such people, an instance of this duty is to allow their vital organs to be used for transplantation. Accordingly, ‘opt-out’ organ procurement policies, based on a powerfully motivated responsibility to render costless or very low-cost lifesaving aid, would seem presumptively permissible. Counterarguments abound. Here I consider, in particular, objections (...) that assign a moral distinctiveness to the physical boundaries of our bodies and that concern autonomy and trust. These objections are singled out as they seem particularly pertinent to the stress I place on a distinctive benefit of the particular policy I defend. An opt-out system, resting not on the authority of ‘presumed consent’ but on the recognition of a duty to one another, has the prospect of prompting people to understand more richly the ways in which they are both physically embodied and communally embedded. (shrink)
A number of recent discussions about ethical issues in climate change, as engaged in by economists, have focused on the value of the parameter representing the rate of time preference within models of optimal growth. This essay examines many economists' antipathy to serious discussion of ethical matters, and suggests that the avoidance of questions of intergenerational equity is related to another set of value judgments concerning the quality and objectivity of economic practice. Using insights from feminist philosophy of science and (...) research on high reliability organizations, this essay argues that a more ethically transparent, real-world-oriented, and flexible economic practice would lead to more strongly objective, reliable, and useful knowledge. (shrink)
: A fascinating criticism of abortion occasioned by prenatal diagnosis of potentially disabling traits is that the complex of test-and-abortion sends a morally disparaging message to people living with disabilities. I have argued that available versions of this "expressivist" argument are inadequate on two grounds. The most fundamental is that, considered as a practice, abortions prompted by prenatal testing are not semantically well-behaved enough to send any particular message; they do not function as signs in a rule-governed symbol system. Further, (...) even granting, for the sake of argument, the expressive power of testing and aborting, it would not be possible, contra the argument's proponents, to distinguish between abortions undertaken because of beliefs about the disabling conditions the fetus might face as a child and abortions undertaken for many other possible reasons--e.g., because of the poverty the fetus would face or the increase in family size that the birth of a new child would occasion. Here, I respond to criticisms of those arguments, and propose and defend another: the expressivist argument cannot, in general, distinguish successfully between abortion and therapy as modalities for responding to disabilities. (shrink)
It has recently been argued by Miller and Truog (2008) that, while procuring vital organs from transplant donors is typically the cause of their deaths, this violation of the requirement that donors be dead prior to the removal of their organs is not a cause for moral concern. In general terms, I endorse this heterodox conclusion, but for different and, as I think, more powerful reasons. I end by arguing that, even if it is agreed that retrieval of vital organs (...) causes the deaths of those who provide them, that does not pose any new substantive difficulties for efforts to justify “opt-out” organ procurement systems. (shrink)