The four-principle approach to biomedical ethics is used worldwide by practitioners and researchers alike but it is rather unclear what exactly people do when they apply this approach. Ranking, specification, and balancing vary greatly among different people regarding a particular case. Thus, a sound and coherent applicability of principlism seems somewhat mysterious. What are principlists doing? The article examines the methodological strengths and weaknesses of the applicability of this approach. The most important result is that a sound and comprehensible application (...) of the four principles is additionally ensured by making use of the organizing meta-principle of common morality, which is the starting point and constraining framework of moral reasoning. (shrink)
In his landmark article “How Medicine Saved the Life of Ethics” (1982), Stephen Toulmin persuasively argues that (serious) problems cannot be solved by mere rationalistic approaches in ethics and that ethics was eventually saved by dint of having to deal with vital questions and concrete problems in medicine. Whether one is a proponent of, for example, principlism or casuistry, one certainly has to admit that a convincing ethical theory or method must have practical application. Analogously, it is about time to (...) consider another vital and prominent issue in normative ethics—the universalism-relativism debate—that might profit from the bioethical approach of principlism (otherwise known as the four-principles .. (shrink)
Great technological advances in such areas as computer science, artificial intelligence, and robotics have brought the advent of artificially intelligent robots within our reach within the next century. Against this background, the interdisciplinary field of machine ethics is concerned with the vital issue of making robots “ethical” and examining the moral status of autonomous robots that are capable of moral reasoning and decision-making. The existence of such robots will deeply reshape our socio-political life. This paper focuses on whether such highly (...) advanced yet artificially intelligent beings will deserve moral protection once they become capable of moral reasoning and decision-making. I argue that we are obligated to grant them moral rights once they have become full ethical agents, i.e., subjects of morality. I present four related arguments in support of this claim and thereafter examine four main objections to the idea of ascribing moral rights to artificial intelligent robots. (shrink)
This paper examines the ethical pitfalls and challenges that non-ethicists, such as researchers and programmers in the fields of computer science, artificial intelligence and robotics, face when building moral machines. Whether ethics is “computable” depends on how programmers understand ethics in the first place and on the adequacy of their understanding of the ethical problems and methodological challenges in these fields. Researchers and programmers face at least two types of problems due to their general lack of ethical knowledge or expertise. (...) The first type is so-called rookie mistakes, which could be addressed by providing these people with the necessary ethical knowledge. The second, more difficult methodological issue concerns areas of peer disagreement in ethics, where no easy solutions are currently available. This paper examines several existing approaches to highlight the ethical pitfalls and challenges involved. Familiarity with these and similar problems can help programmers to avoid pitfalls and build better moral machines. The paper concludes that ethical decisions regarding moral robots should be based on avoiding what is immoral in combination with a pluralistic ethical method of solving moral problems, rather than relying on a particular ethical approach, so as to avoid a normative bias. (shrink)
Universal human rights and particular cultural identities, which are relativistic by nature, seem to stand in conflict with each other. It is commonly suggested that the relativistic natures of cultural identities undermine universal human rights and that human rights might compromise particular cultural identities in a globalised world. This article examines this supposed clash and suggests that it is possible to frame a human rights approach in such a way that it becomes the starting point and constraining framework for all (...) non-deficient cultural identities. In other words, it is possible to depict human rights in a culturally sensitive way so that universal human rights can meet the demands of a moderate version of meta-ethical relativism which acknowledges a small universal core of objectively true or false moral statements and avers that, beyond that small core, all other moral statements are neither objectively true nor false. (shrink)
In this article, I question the general idea that inclusive education — i.e., to teach all students in one class — is a moral human right. The following discussion shows that the widespread view in disability studies that there is a moral human right to inclusive education can be reasonably called into question by virtue of the proposed counter arguments, but without denying that inclusive education is of utmost importance. Practically speaking, the legal human right to inclusive education is of (...) great practical value for impaired students, and for their basic right to be free from discrimination in education, since their concern thereby gains great legal and moral force. But, theoretically speaking, this particular human right lacks an attainable consensus concerning proper moral justification. (shrink)
Recent scientific developments, in particular advances in pharmacogenetics and molecular genetics, have given rise to numerous predictive procedures for detecting predispositions to diseases in patients. This knowledge, however, does not necessarily promise benign results for either patients or health care professionals. The aim of this volume is to analyse issues related to prediction and prognosis as a burgeoning field of medicine, which is revolutionizing the way we understand and approach diagnosis and treatment. Combining epistemic and ethical reflection with medical expertise (...) on contemporary practice and research, an interdisciplinary group of international experts critically examine anticipatory medicine from various perspectives, including history of medicine, bioethics, theories of science, and health economics. The highly complex issues involved in medical prediction call for a far-reaching debate on the value and scope of foreknowledge. For example, which responsibilities and burdens arise when still healthy people learn of their predisposition to diseases? How should health care insurance reflect risky life styles? Is the increasing medicalization of life connected with prevention ethically sustainable and financially possible in the developing world? These and other related issues are the subject of this timely and important book, which not only serves as an introduction to the area, but also proposes many feasible solutions to the problems outlined. (shrink)
The essays in this book engage the original and controversial claims from Michael Boylan's A Just Society. Each essay discusses Boylan's claims from a particular chapter and offers a critical analysis of these claims. Boylan responds to the essays in his lengthy and philosophically rich reply.
Some authors fear that humanity is on the verge of its own extinction and must either change its behaviour or inevitably cause its own demise. This situation has spawned a vigorous (bio)ethical debate in recent years concerning whether one should enhance human beings cognitively or morally in order to promote moral action and reduce harm. This article defends making moral bioenhancement compulsory to avoid grossly immoral actions and the global extinction of humanity, if it is available, safe and easy to (...) administer. Two crucial issues will be examined in more detail. First, moral enhancement and free will, and second, the applicability problem, which concerns one particular political approach to accomplishing that goal. (shrink)
Editors Wanda Teays, John-Stewart Gordon, and Alison Dundes Renteln have assembled the works of an interdisciplinary, international team of experts in bioethics into a comprehensive, innovative and accessible book. Topics covered range from torture and lethal injection to euthanasia, sex selection, vulnerable human subjects, to health equity, safety and public health, and environmental disasters like Bhopal, Fukushima, and more.