How should we respond to individuals with disabilities? What does it mean to be disabled? Over fifty million Americans, from neonates to the fragile elderly, are disabled. Some people say they have the right to full social participation, while others repudiate such claims as delusive or dangerous. In this compelling book, three experts in ethics, medicine, and the law address pressing disability questions in bioethics and public policy. Anita Silvers, David Wasserman, and Mary B. Mahowald test important theories of justice (...) by bringing them to bear on subjects of concern in a wide variety of disciplines dealing with disability. They do so in the light of recent advances in feminist, minority, and cultural studies, and of the groundbreaking Americans with Disabilities Act. (shrink)
All persons, while different from one another, have the same value: this is the author's relatively uncontroversial starting point. Her end point is not uncontroversial: an ideal of justice as human flourishing, based on each person's unique set of capabilities. Because the book's focus is women's health care, gender justice, a necessary component of justice, is central to examination of the issues. Classical pragmatists and feminist standpoint theorists are enlisted in support of a strategy by which gender justice is promoted. (...) Two features of the book are unique: (1) the topics presented cover the entire life span of women, not just those related to reproduction; (2) a range views about moral status are applied not only to fetuses but also to individuals already born. Attention to these features is intended to facilitate ethical consistency or moral integrity and respect for those who hold different moral views. While delineating and defending the book's perspective, the first section provides an overview of bioethics, critiques prevalent approaches to bioethics and models of the physician-patient relationship, and sketches distinguishing aspects of women's health care that are prevalently neglected. Positions about moral status are also presented. The second section identifies topics that are indirectly as well as directly related to women's health, such as domestic violence and caregiving. Brief cases illustrate variables relevant to each topic. Empirical and theoretical considerations follow each set of cases; these are intended to precipitate more expansive and critical examination of the issues raised. The last section is devoted to an egalitarian ideal that may be pursued through an ethic of virtue or supererogation rather than obligation. By embracing this ideal, according to the author, moral agents support a more demanding level of morality than guidelines or laws require. (shrink)
When surgery is performed on pregnant women forthe sake of the fetus (MFS or maternal fetalsurgery), it is often discussed in terms of thefetus alone. This usage exemplifies whatphilosophers call the fallacy of abstraction: considering a concept as if it were separablefrom another concept whose meaning isessentially related to it. In light of theirpotential separability, research on pregnantwomen raises the possibility of conflictsbetween the interests of the woman and those ofthe fetus. Such research should meet therequirement of equipoise, i.e., a (...) state ofgenuine uncertainty about the risks andbenefits of alternative interventions ornoninterventions. While illustrating thefallacy of abstraction in discussions of MFS,we review the rationale for explicitacknowledgment of the essential tie betweenfetus and pregnant woman. Next we examinewhether it is possible to meet the requirementof equipoise in research on MFS, focusing on afetal condition called myelomeningocele. Weshow how issues related to equipoise innonpregnant populations appear also in debatesregarding MFS. We also examine evidence insupport of claims that the requirement ofequipoise has been satisfied with respect to``the fetal patient'' while considering risks andbenefits to gestating women only marginally ornot at all. After delineating challenges andpossibilities for equipoise in MFS research, weconclude with a suggestion for avoiding thefallacy of abstraction and achieving equipoiseso that research on MFS may be ethicallyconducted. (shrink)
When I first became acquainted with the thought of the American philoso pher Josiah Royce, two factors particularly intrigued me. The first was Royce's claim that the notion of community was his main metaphysical tenet; the second was his close association with the two American pragmatists, Charles Sanders Peirce and William James. Regarding the first factor, I was struck by the fact that a philosopher who died in 1916 should emphasize a topic of such contemporary significance not only in philosophy (...) but in so many other vital fields as well (sociology, psychology, politics, theology - to name only a few). Regarding the second, I was curious as to whether the pragmatism of Peirce and James might have influenced Royce during the course of their professional and personal contacts. Similarly, I wondered whether the idealism of Royce might have affected the thought of Peirce and James. To have appeased my curiosity in regard to all three thinkers, however, would have required (at least) three books. As a start I have now appeased it in regard to one. In researching the writings of Royce I found my way to the Houghton Library and to the Archives of Harvard University at Cambridge, Massa chusetts, where the unpublished manuscripts of Royce are preserved. (No editing job has yet been done on this bulk of material, though such would certainly be a welcome contribution to American philosophy. (shrink)
The issues of human cloning and stem cell retrieval are inseparable in circumstances in which the rationale of self-preservation may be invoked as a negative right. I apply this rationale to a hypothetical case in which cloning is necessary to preserve the bodily integrity or life of an individual. Self-preservation as moral integrity is examined in a narrower context, i.e., as applicable to those for whom deliberate termination of embryonic life is morally-problematic. This issue is addressed through comparison with two (...) paradigms commonly used in support of clinical practice: the distinction between letting die and killing, and the permissibility of vital organ retrieval after death. Although these paradigms are questionable in their own right, they offer a rationale by which scientists and clinicians may respect the negative right to moral integrity of those with whom they disagree. (shrink)
I argue for compatibility between feminism and medicine by developing a model of the physician-other relationship which is essentially egalitarian. This entails rejection of (a) a paternalistic model which reinforces sex-role stereotypes, (b) a maternalistic model which exclusively emphasizes patient autonomy, and (c) a model which focuses on the physician's conscience. The model I propose (parentalism) captures the complexity and dynamism of the physician-other relationship, by stressing mutuality in respect for autonomy and regard for each other's interests.
Here is the doubt that triggers my inquiry: I have two beliefs that are apparently at odds. The first is that we should never kill; the second, that we should always attempt to alleviate pain. The apparent conflict between these beliefs arises from the fact that death may constitute the ultimate pain relief.
Adoption, from the Latin opiate, “to choose,” means “to take into a relationship, especially another's child as one's own”. The word implies a permanent taking of responsibility. While the assumption that biological parents should rear their children is vital to society, adoption provides an alternative that is sometimes necessary.
Disability rights advocates sometimes claim that prenatal tests to select against disabilities discriminate against people with disabilities. The “expressivist argument” that supports this position has been challenged on grounds of the difference between fetuses and born persons. In this essay, I explain why the expressivist argument is valid despite the questionableness of its conclusion, and why the distinction between fetuses and born persons fails to provide an adequate counterargument to the expressivist conclusion. I also consider a compelling argument for prenatal (...) testing to select against disabilities and propose a reformulation of this argument that, I think, supports prenatal testing for disabilities while avoiding discrimination against people born with disabilities. (shrink)
A scholar’s life and thought can probably best be recounted by another scholar. John Clendenning, Professor of English at California State University-Northridge, is precisely the appropriate scholar for the scholar Josiah Royce. As editor of an important collection of Royce’s Letters, Clendenning had already indicated vast knowledge of his subject. Here, however, he shows more: interpretive skill, smoothness of style, a pertinent sense of anecdote, and sensitivity to the interplay between biographical data and ideas. His book displays a further feature (...) which will be perceived by some as a flaw, by others a strength: its perspective is by and large sympathetic. (shrink)
This paper reviews the characteristics of anorexia nervosa described in the DSM-III-R , relates them to normative gender roles and adolescent development, and critiques those roles on feminist grounds. Two apparently contradictory explanations for the irrational pursuit of thinness are considered: a) the anorexic thus attempts to conform to a socially defined feminine ideal; b) the anorexic thus attempts to avoid the appearance and consequences of mature womanhood. I propose that both explanations are applicable, together emplifying the ambiguity that Simone (...) de Beauvoir considers characteristic of female experience. Because both explanations suggest a gender identity disorder, I question the fact that the DSM-III-R fails to indicate this linkage. I argue further that therapeutic considerations require efforts to alter the socialization factors that are implicative in anorexia nervosa. Keywords: anorexia nervosa, diagnoses, feminism, philosophy of biology, psychiatry CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
The term “disability” may be used narrowly or broadly to identify conditions that impede an individual’s ability to function or flourish. I argue that a broad definition is both epistemologically and ethically preferable to a narrow one. Only if we recognize that all human beings embody disabilities as well as abilities is justice and respect for the autonomy of those who fit the narrow definition possible. A liability of the broad definition, however, is its risk of masking differences that need (...) to be addressed explicitly if justice is to be maximized. To address this liability, I propose “standpoint theory,” a strategy supported by classical pragmatists and feminist authors who recognize the inevitable myopia of all of us. I conclude with an application of standpoint theory to a specific disability: cognitive impairment. (shrink)