Public health ethics, like the field of public health it addresses, traditionally has focused more on practice and particular cases than on theory, with the result that some concepts, methods, and boundaries remain largely undefined. This paper attempts to provide a rough conceptual map of the terrain of public health ethics. We begin by briefly defining public health and identifying general features of the field that are particularly relevant for a discussion of public health ethics.Public health is primarily concerned with (...) the health of the entire population, rather than the health of individuals. Its features include an emphasis on the promotion of health and the prevention of disease and disability; the collection and use of epidemiological data, population surveillance, and other forms of empirical quantitative assessment; a recognition of the multidimensional nature of the determinants of health; and a focus on the complex interactions of many factors—biological, behavioral, social, and environmental—in developing effective interventions. (shrink)
This book explores, in rich and rigorous ways, the possibilities and limitations of “thick” autonomy in light of contemporary debates in philosophy, ethics, and bioethics. Many standard ethical theories and practices, particularly in domains such as biomedical ethics, incorporate minimal, formal, procedural concepts of personal autonomy and autonomous decisions and actions. Over the last three decades, concerns about the problems and limitations of these “thin” concepts have led to the formulation of “thick” concepts that highlight the mental, corporeal, biographical and (...) social conditions of what it means to be a human person and that enrich concepts of autonomy, with direct implications for the ethical requirement to respect autonomy. The chapters in this book offer a wide range of perspectives on both the elements of and the relations between “thin” and “thick” concepts of autonomy as well as their relative roles and importance in ethics and bioethics. This book offers valuable and illuminating examinations of autonomy and respect for autonomy, relevant for audiences in philosophy, ethics, and bioethics. (shrink)
"A very good book indeed: there is scarcely an issue anyone has thought to raise about the topic which Childress fails to treat with sensitivity and good judgement....Future discussions of paternalism in health care will have to come to terms with the contentions of this book, which must be reckoned the best existing treatment of its subject."--Ethics. "A clear, scholarly and balanced analysis....This is a book I can recommend to physicians, ethicists, students of both fields, and to those most affected--the (...) patients themselves."--Edmund D. Pellegrino, John Carroll Professor of Medicine and Medical Humanities, Georgetown University Medical Center. (shrink)
After expressing our gratitude to the commentators for their valuable analyses and assessments of Principles of Biomedical Ethics, we respond to several particular critiques raised by the commentators under the following rubrics: the compatibility of different sets of principles and rules; challenges to the principle of respect for autonomy; connecting principles to cases and resolving their conflicts; the value of and compatibility of virtues and principles; common morality theory; and moral status. We point to areas where we see common agreement (...) with our commentators and respond to their critical evaluations. (shrink)
After briefly sketching common-morality principlism, as presented in Principles of Biomedical Ethics, this paper responds to two recent sets of challenges to this framework. The first challenge claims that medical ethics is autonomous and unique and thus not a form of, or justified or guided by, a common morality or by any external morality or moral theory. The second challenge denies that there is a common morality and insists that futile efforts to develop common-morality approaches to bioethics limit diversity and (...) prevent needed moral change. This paper argues that these two critiques fundamentally fail because they significantly misunderstand their target and because their proposed alternatives have major deficiencies and encounter insurmountable problems. (shrink)
This essay explores some of the conceptual and moral issues raised by illegal actions in health care. The author first identifies several types of illegal action, concentrating on civil disobedience, conscientious objection or refusal, and evasive noncompliance. Then he sketches a framework for the moral justification of these types of illegal action. Finally, he applies the conceptual and normative frameworks to several major cases of illegal action in health care, such as "mercy killing" and some decisions not to treat incompetent (...) patients. Keywords: illegal actions, mercy killing, non-treatment of incompetent patients, civil disobedience, conscientious objection, evasive non-compliance, moral justification and disobedience, dissent in health care CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
Focusing mainly on respect for autonomy, particularly autonomous choices and actions in bioethical decisions, I examine several complexities of enacting this respect through the case of a fourteen-year-old boy who died after being allowed to refuse a necessary blood transfusion on religious grounds. I argue that thicker concepts of autonomy, closely connected with relational autonomy, direct our attention to aspects of respect for autonomy that are often neglected or underappreciated in much bioethical theory and practice. In particular, they illuminate the (...) interpretive complexity of respecting autonomous choices by focusing attention on the relational context of individuals’ decisions, on respect for individuals’ social-cultural beliefs and values, and on the temporality of selves, as expressed in their past consent or future consent as well as in—and sometimes in contradiction to—their present consent or dissent. However, it is important not to convert the illuminating and valuable insights from theories of relational autonomy into necessary conditions of autonomous choices and actions and hence of respect for autonomy. (shrink)
: Moral frameworks for evaluating non-donation strategies to increase the supply of cadaveric human organs for transplantation and ways to overcome barriers to organ donation are explored. Organ transplantation is a very complex area, because the human body evokes various beliefs, symbols, sentiments, and emotions as well as various rituals and social practices. From a rationalistic standpoint, some policies to increase the supply of transplantable organs may appear to be quite defensible but then turn out to be ineffective and perhaps (...) even counterproductive because of inadequate attention to these rich and complex features of human body parts. Excessively rationalistic policies neglect deep beliefs, symbols, sentiments, and emotions and the like, and that deficiency marks many actual and proposed policies. In addition, policies are often too individualistic and too legalistic. (shrink)
"Public Bioethics collects the most influential essays and articles of James F. Childress, a leading figure in the field of contemporary bioethics. These essays, including new, previously unpublished material, cohere around the idea of "public bioethics," which involves analyzing and assessing public policies in biomedicine, health care, and public health, often through public deliberative bodies. The volume is divided into four sections. The first concentrates on the principle of respect for autonomy and paternalistic policies and practices. The second explores the (...) tension among bioethics, public policy, and religious convictions. It pays particular attention to the role of religious convictions in the formation of public policies and to the basis and limits of exemptions of health care providers who conscientiously oppose providing certain legal and patient-sought services. The third section looks at practices and policies related to organ transplantation. Childress focuses particularly on determining death, obtaining first-person consent for deceased organ donation, and allocating donated organs effectively and fairly. The book's fourth and final section maps the broad terrain of public health ethics, proposes a triage framework for the use of resources in public health crises, addresses public health interventions that potentially infringe civil liberties, and sheds light on John Stuart Mill's misunderstood legacy for public health ethics."--Provided by publisher. (shrink)
Organ allocation policy involves a mixture of ethical, scientific, medical, legal, and political factors, among others. It is thus hard, and perhaps even impossible, to identify and fully separate ethical considerations from all these other factors. Yet I will focus primarily on the ethical considerations embedded in the current debate in the United States about organ allocation policy. I will argue that it is important to putpatientsfirstbut even then significant ethical questions will remain about exactly how to put patients first.
: Managed care organizations can produce conflicts of obligation and conflicts of interest that may lead to problems of conscience for health care professionals. This paper provides a basis for understanding the notions of conscience and conscientious objection and offers a framework for clinicians to stake out positions grounded in personal conscience as a way for them to respond to unacceptable pressures from managers to limit services.
This article responds to the four pieces in this special symposium of the Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics on uncontrolled organ donation following circulatory death . The response will focus on lessons and debates about the kinds of consent necessary and sufficient for temporary organ preservation in the context of DCD and for organ donation itself; on conflicts of obligation, loyalty, and interest in DCD and ways to address those conflicts; and on benefit, cost, risk assessments of uDCD programs, (...) including measures to achieve a more favorable balance of benefits, costs, and risks. (shrink)
The several articles in this special issue on organ donation after circulatory determination of death or, as it is often put, donation after cardiac death, draw lessons from different kinds of experience in order to guide efforts in the U.S. to develop or refine policies for DCD. One lesson comes from a major and, by many measures, successful experimental DCD program in Washington, D.C. in the 1990s. Another lesson comes from European countries that have adopted presumed-consent legislation, a form of (...) “opt out” that facilitates DCD as well as donation after neurological determination of death. Another lesson, from the perspective of critical care medicine in Canada, attends to the implications of viewing a dying patient, undergoing resuscitative procedures, as a potential organ donor. A final lesson sketches implications of legislation and court cases in the U.S., often involving DND, for initiating temporary organ preservation in DCD programs before consent has been obtained for organ donation. Some of these lessons are optimistic about the prospects for DCD, especially if certain steps are taken, while others are more cautious, particularly because of the costs and risks involved in DCD. (shrink)
This essay appreciatively and critically engages the late Robert Veatch’s extensive and important contributions to transplantation ethics, in the context of his overall ethical theory and his methods for resolving conflicts among ethical principles. It focuses mainly on ways to obtain and allocate organs from deceased persons, with particular attention to express donation, mandated choice, and presumed consent/routine salvaging in organ procurement and to conflicts between medical utility and egalitarian justice in organ allocation. It concludes by examining the unclear relations (...) between Veatch’s ideal moral theory and his nonideal moral theory, especially in organ allocation. (shrink)
Tom Beauchamp and I were asked by the editors of The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy to prepare “intellectual autobiographies,” with particular attention to sources and influences on our work, including but not limited to Principles of Biomedical Ethics. Of course, it is artificial and even impossible to try fully to separate the “intellectual” from other aspects of our lives. So, while emphasizing the “intellectual” aspects of my autobiography, I have attended to other aspects, too. The huge debts of gratitude (...) I owe also mix the “intellectual” and other aspects of life. (shrink)
The Westminster Dictionary of Christian Ethics is an invaluable reference work. Included are articles on basic ethical concepts; biblical and theological ethics; philosophical traditions; major non-Christian religious traditions; psychological, sociological, political, and other concepts important to Christian ethics; and, finally, substantial problems, such as war, usually including both information and options. With 620 entries cover a spectrum of topics that concern thinking people everywhere, providing clear, concise and accurate information about ethical concerns.
While greatly appreciative of Kaveny's important study of a neglected form of religious/moral discourse in the public square, this essay critically examines her metaphors for prophetic indictments and finds the metaphor of moral chemotherapy particularly problematic and the metaphor of warfare, connected with the just-war tradition, more promising. It stresses the difficulty, if not the impossibility, of avoiding contempt in prophetic indictments, as Kaveny conceives them, and finds her proposed solutions to this problem—standing with the people and expressing empathy and (...) compassion toward them—inadequate to the task. It further argues that attending to prophetic imagination, in addition to prophetic denunciation, can broaden the scope of practical deliberation and, at the same time, increase possible prophetic contributions to moral and political discourse. (shrink)
This study examines some of the moral and theological convictions that created tensions for early Christians who affirmed that the government's sword is ordained by God for a fallen world but also that Christians should not exercise it at least in warfare. Three important moral pressures toward Christian participation in war were the recognition of prevention or removal of harm as a requirement of neighbor-love, the related sense of responsibility, fault, and guilt for omissions, and the generalization test proposed by (...) Celsus, who asked Christians to consider what would happen if everyone did what they were doing, i.e., refrained from military service. Along with many other factors, these ideas contributed to the legitimation of Christian participation in war. But this legitimation itself created additional tensions, particularly because of the requirements to "turn the other cheek," to "go the second mile," etc. In order to lessen these tensions, the Church and its theologians developed several interrelated distinctions that could reduce the scope or strength of the radical demands: higher/lower; for oneself/ for others; inner/outer; and private/public. (shrink)
The National Bioethics Advisory Commission, of which I was a member, was established by a 1995 executive order that identified its “first priority” as “the protection of the rights and welfare of human research subjects.” Not surprisingly, then, most of NBAC's work focused on research involving human subjects or participants. A second priority concerned “issues in the management and use of genetics information, including but not limited to, human gene patenting.” NBAC's charter (in contrast to the executive order) listed this (...) charge as “part B” of the “first priority.” Nonetheless, NBAC never fully developed it. In addition to responding to requests and recommendations from the National Science and Technology Council, NBAC could accept suggestions from Congress and the public for bioethical issues it should consider, and it could also identify other issues to consider and set priorities among them. From its first meeting on October 4, 1996, until its charter expired on October 3, 2001, NBAC produced six reports, with 120 recommendations. In this essay, I make a few observations about principles and moral reasoning in NBAC's deliberations and about NBAC's attention to religious beliefs in the context of two bioethical controversies, provide a rough evaluation of NBAC's impact, and consider three possible models for future public bioethics directed at federal public policy. (shrink)
In response to the Journal of Religious Ethics (JRE) editors' request for reflections on “how religious ethicists have interacted with, and ought to interact with, public policy decision makers,” this essay focuses on doing religious ethics in the context of doing public bioethics, especially through participating in public bioethics bodies (PBBs) established to provide advice to public policymakers in what might be called “mediated advocacy.” Drawing heavily on the author's experience as a member of and a consultant to several PBBs, (...) it features case studies of PBBs deliberating about and recommending public policies to address the scarcity of postmortem organs for transplantation, the equitable allocation of COVID‐19 vaccine, cloning humans, and human embryonic stem cell research. (shrink)
This paper analyzes nonviolent resistance and direct action, as seen by its practitioners and theoreticians, from the standpoint of trust and risk-taking. After an examination of the nature of trust, the author indicates how it can illuminate what selected figures such as Gandhi and King have claimed about nonviolence. He offers this analysis not as a defense but as a way of understanding nonviolence that can serve as a starting point for further discussion.