This overview proceeds by outlining, albeit very briefly, something of the historical growth of Thomism, turning then to a brief account of how analytic philosophy in the twentieth century can be viewed in relation to that history, before finally turning to a further consideration of what the phrase “Analytical Thomism,” can be taken to mean in light of this brief historical account.
I distinguish two ways of explaining our capacity for ‘transparent’ knowledge of our own present beliefs, perceptions, and intentions: an inferential and a reflective approach. Alex Byrne (2011) has defended an inferential approach, but I argue that this approach faces a basic difficulty, and that a reflective approach avoids the difficulty. I conclude with a brief sketch and defence of a reflective approach to our transparent self-knowledge, and I show how this approach is connected with the thesis that we must (...) distinguish between a kind of self-knowledge that is of oneself as agent and another kind that is of oneself as patient. (shrink)
Deep brain stimulation has been of considerable interest to bioethicists, in large part because of the effects that the intervention can occasionally have on central features of the recipient’s personality. These effects raise questions regarding the philosophical concept of authenticity. In this article, we expand on our earlier work on the concept of authenticity in the context of deep brain stimulation by developing a diachronic, value-based account of authenticity. Our account draws on both existentialist and essentialist approaches to authenticity, and (...) Laura Waddell Ekstrom’s coherentist approach to personal autonomy. In developing our account, we respond to Sven Nyholm and Elizabeth O’Neill’s synchronic approach to authenticity, and explain how the diachronic approach we defend can have practical utility, contrary to Alexandre Erler and Tony Hope’s criticism of autonomy-based approaches to authenticity. Having drawn a distinction between the authenticity of an individual’s traits and the authenticity of that person’s values, we consider how our conception of authenticity applies to the context of anorexia nervosa in comparison to other prominent accounts of authenticity. We conclude with some reflections on the prudential value of authenticity, and by highlighting how the language of authenticity can be invoked to justify covert forms of paternalism that run contrary to the value of individuality that seems to be at the heart of authenticity. (shrink)
Gilbert et al. have raised important questions about the empirical grounding of neuroethical analyses of the apparent phenomenon of Deep Brain Stimulation ‘causing’ personality changes. In this paper, we consider how to make neuroethical claims appropriately calibrated to existing evidence, and the role that philosophical neuroethics has to play in this enterprise of ‘evidence-based neuroethics’. In the first half of the paper, we begin by highlighting the challenges we face in investigating changes to PIAAAS following DBS, explaining how different trial (...) designs may be of different degrees of utility, depending on how changes to PIAAAS following DBS are manifested. In particular, we suggest that the trial designs Gilbert et al. call for may not be able to tell us whether or not DBS directly causes changes to personality. However, we suggest that this is not the most significant question about this phenomenon; the most significant question is whether these changes should matter morally, however they are caused. We go on to suggest that neuroethical analyses of novel neuro-interventions should be carried out in accordance with the levels of evidence hierarchy outlined by the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, and explain different ways in which neuroethical analyses of changes to PIAAAS can be evidence-based on this framework. In the second half of the paper, we explain how philosophical neuroethics can play an important role in contributing to mechanism-based reasoning about potential effects on PIAAAS following DBS, a form of evidence that is also incorporated into the CEBM levels of evidence hierarchy. (shrink)
Personal autonomy is often lauded as a key value in contemporary Western bioethics. Though the claim that there is an important relationship between autonomy and rationality is often treated as uncontroversial in this sphere, there is also considerable disagreement about how we should cash out the relationship. In particular, it is unclear whether a rationalist view of autonomy can be compatible with legal judgments that enshrine a patient's right to refuse medical treatment, regardless of whether the reasons underpinning the choice (...) are known and rational, or indeed whether they even exist. Jonathan Pugh brings recent philosophical work on the nature of rationality to bear on the question of how we should understand personal autonomy in contemporary bioethics. In doing so, he develops a new framework for thinking about the concept of autonomy, one that is grounded in an understanding of the different roles that rational beliefs and rational desires have to play in it. Pugh's account allows for a deeper understanding of d the relationship between our freedom to act and our capacity to decide autonomously. His rationalist perspective is contrasted with other prominent accounts of autonomy in bioethics, and the revisionary implications it has for practical questions in biomedicine are also outlined. (shrink)
There is increasing interest in using neuro-stimulation devices to achieve an ergogenic effect in elite athletes. Although the World Anti-Doping Authority does not currently prohibit neuro-stimulation techniques, a number of researchers have called on WADA to consider its position on this issue. Focusing on trans-cranial direct current stimulation as a case study of an imminent so-called ‘neuro-doping’ intervention, we argue that the emerging evidence suggests that tDCS may meet WADA’s own criteria for a method’s inclusion on its list of prohibited (...) substances and methods. We begin by surveying WADA’s general approach to doping, and highlight important limitations to the current evidence base regarding the performance-enhancing effect of pharmacological doping substances. We then review the current evidence base for the safety and efficacy of tDCS, and argue that despite significant shortcomings, there may be sufficient evidence for WADA to consider prohibiting tDCS, in light of the comparable flaws in the evidence base for pharmacological doping substances. In the second half of the paper, we argue that the question of whether WADA ought to ban tDCS turns significantly on the question of whether it is compatible with the ‘spirit of sport’ criterion. We critique some of the previously published positions on this, and advocate our own sport-specific and application-specific approach. Despite these arguments, we finally conclude by suggesting that tDCS ought to be monitored rather than prohibited due to compelling non-ideal considerations. (shrink)
A prominent objection to non-cognitive moral bio-enhancements is that they would compromise the recipient’s ‘freedom to fall’. I begin by discussing some ambiguities in this objection, before outlining an Aristotelian reading of it. I suggest that this reading may help to forestall Persson and Savulescu’s ‘God-Machine’ criticism; however, I suggest that the objection still faces the problem of explaining why the value of moral conformity is insufficient to outweigh the value of the freedom to fall itself. I also question whether (...) the objection is compatible with Neil Levy’s parity principle. Accordingly, I go on to consider an alternative relational freedom-based objection to NCMBEs that aims to explain the fundamental moral importance of the freedom that NCMBEs would violate. I argue that although this strategy might allow the critic of NCMBEs to bypass a powerful criticism of Harris’ objection, it also weakens the freedom-based objection’s compatibility with the parity principle. (shrink)
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is frequently described as a ‘reversible’ medical treatment, and the reversibility of DBS is often cited as an important reason for preferring it to brain lesioning procedures as a last resort treatment modality for patients suffering from treatment-refractory conditions. Despite its widespread acceptance, the claim that DBS is reversible has recently come under attack. Critics have pointed out that data are beginning to suggest that there can be non-stimulation-dependent effects of DBS. Furthermore, we lack long-term data (...) about other potential irreversible effects of neuromodulation. This has considerable normative implications for comparisons of DBS and brain lesioning procedures. Indeed, Devan Stahl and colleagues have recently argued that psychiatric DBS should be subject to the same legal safeguards as other forms of psychosurgery, supporting their position by forcibly criticising the claim that DBS is reversible. In this paper, I respond to these criticisms by first clarifying the descriptive and evaluative elements of the reversibility claim that supporters of DBS might invoke, and the different senses of ‘reversibility’ that we might employ in discussing the effects of medical procedures. I go on to suggest that it is possible to defend a nuanced version of the reversibility claim. To do so, I explain how DBS has some effects that are stimulation dependent in the short term, and argue that these effects can have significant normative implications for patient well-being and autonomy. I conclude that we should not abandon a nuanced version of the reversibility claim in the DBS debate. (shrink)
According to a number of influential views in penal theory, 1 one of the primary goals of the criminal justice system is to rehabilitate offenders. Rehabilitativemeasures are commonly included as a part of a criminal sentence. For example, in some jurisdictions judges may order violent offenders to attend anger management classes or to undergo cognitive behavioural therapy as a part of their sentences. In a limited number of cases, neurointerventions — interventions that exert a direct biological effect on the brain (...) — have been used as aids to rehabilitation, typically being imposed as part of criminal sentences, separate treatment orders, or conditions of parole. Examples of such interventions include medications intended to attenuate addictive desires in substance-abusing offenders and agents intended to suppress libido in sex offenders.This chapter reviews some of the ethical issues raised by the use of neurointerventions as aids to rehabilitation. (shrink)
A central tenet of medical ethics holds that it is permissible to perform a medical intervention on a competent individual only if that individual has given informed consent to the intervention. However, in some circumstances it is tempting to say that the moral reason to obtain informed consent prior to administering a medical intervention is outweighed. For example, if an individual’s refusal to undergo a medical intervention would lead to the transmission of a dangerous infectious disease to other members of (...) the community, one might claim that it would be morally permissible to administer the intervention even in the absence of consent. Indeed, as we shall discuss below, there are a number of examples of public health authorities implementing compulsory or coercive measures for the purposes of infectious disease control (IDC). The plausibility of the thought that non-consensual medical interventions might be justified when performed for the purpose of IDC raises the question of whether such interventions might permissibly be used to realize other public goods. In this article we focus on one possibility: whether it could be permissible to non-consensually impose certain interventions that alter brain states or processes through chemical or physical means on serious criminal offenders. We shall suggest that some such interventions might be permissible if they safely and effectively serve to facilitate the offender’s rehabilitation and thereby prevent criminal recidivism. (shrink)
Deep Brain Stimulation is currently being investigated as an experimental treatment for patients suffering from treatment-refractory AN, with an increasing number of case reports and small-scale trials published. Although still at an exploratory and experimental stage, initial results have been promising. Despite the risks associated with an invasive neurosurgical procedure and the long-term implantation of a foreign body, DBS has a number of advantageous features for patients with SE-AN. Stimulation can be fine-tuned to the specific needs of the particular patient, (...) is relatively reversible, and the technique also allows for the crucial issue of investigating and comparing the effects of different neural targets. However, at a time when DBS is emerging as a promising investigational treatment modality for AN, lesioning procedures in psychiatry are having a renaissance. Of concern it has been argued that the two kinds of interventions should instead be understood as rivaling, yet “mutually enriching paradigms” despite the fact that lesioning the brain is irreversible and there is no evidence base for an effective target in AN. We argue that lesioning procedures in AN are unethical at this stage of knowledge and seriously problematic for this patient group, for whom self-control is particularly central to wellbeing. They pose a greater risk of major harms that cannot justify ethical equipoise, despite the apparent superiority in reduced short term surgical harms and lower cost. (shrink)
In many jurisdictions, an offender’s remorse is considered to be a relevant factor to take into account in mitigation at sentencing. The growing philosophical interest in the use of neurointerventions in criminal justice raises an important question about such remorse-based mitigation: to what extent should technologically facilitated remorse be honoured such that it is permitted the same penal significance as standard instances of remorse? To motivate this question, we begin by sketching a tripartite account of remorse that distinguishes cognitive, affective (...) and motivational elements of remorse. We then describe a number of neurointerventions that might plausibly be used to enhance abilities that are relevant to these different elements of remorse. Having described what we term the ‘moral value’ view of the justification of remorse-based mitigation, we then consider whether using neurointerventions to facilitate remorse would undermine its moral value, and thus make it inappropriate to honour such remorse in the criminal justice system. We respond to this question by claiming that the form of moral understanding that is incorporated into a genuinely remorseful response grounds remorse’s moral value. In view of this claim, we conclude by arguing that neurointerventions need not undermine remorse’s moral value on this approach, and that the remorse that such interventions might facilitate could also be authentic to the recipient of the neurointerventions that we discuss. (shrink)
'Brainjacking’ refers to the exercise of unauthorized control of another’s electronic brain implant. Whilst the possibility of hacking a Brain–Computer Interface has already been proven in both experimental and real-life settings, there is reason to believe that it will soon be possible to interfere with the software settings of the Implanted Pulse Generators that play a central role in Deep Brain Stimulation systems. Whilst brainjacking raises ethical concerns pertaining to privacy and physical or psychological harm, we claim that the possibility (...) of brainjacking DBS raises particularly profound concerns about individual autonomy, since the possibility of hacking such devices raises the prospect of third parties exerting influence over the neural circuits underpinning the subject’s cognitive, emotional and motivational states. However, although it seems natural to assume that brainjacking represents a profound threat to individual autonomy, we suggest that the implications of brainjacking for individual autonomy are complicated by the fact that technologies targeted by brainjacking often serve to enhance certain aspects of the user’s autonomy. The difficulty of ascertaining the implications of brainjacking DBS for individual autonomy is exacerbated by the varied understandings of autonomy in the neuroethical and philosophical literature. In this paper, we seek to bring some conceptual clarity to this area by mapping out some of the prominent views concerning the different dimension of autonomous agency, and the implications of brainjacking DBS for each dimension. Drawing on three hypothetical case studies, we show that there could plausibly be some circumstances in which brainjacking could potentially be carried out in ways that could serve to enhance certain dimensions of the target’s autonomy. Our analysis raises further questions about the power, scope, and necessity of obtaining prior consent in seeking to protect patient autonomy when directly interfering with their neural states, in particular in the context of self-regulating closed-loop stimulation devices. (shrink)
In medical ethics, we are often concerned with questions that pertain predominantly to the treatment of a particular individual. However, in a number of cases it is crucial to broaden the scope of our moral inquiry beyond consideration of the individual alone, since the interests of the individual can come into conflict with the interests of the wider community. How should we resolve such conflicts between the interests of the individual and the collective? Most readers of this journal will likely (...) be familiar with the moral theory ‘classical utilitarianism’, which enjoins us to bring about the greatest happiness for the greatest number. This theory offers straightforward guidance in such conflicts, since it will typically be the case that the interests of the many will outweigh the interests of the individual in the utilitarian’s moral calculus. However, the simplicity of this approach is typically understood to be an inadequacy of the theory rather than an appropriate solution to these conflicts; contrary to the implications of classic utilitarianism, we would not believe it permissible to kill one innocent person in order to harvest life-saving organs for five others. Of course, adherents of utilitarianism have responded to this sort of problem by refining the theory in various ways. However, one may invoke different kinds of moral apparatus in order to navigate conflicts between the individual and the collective. In this issue, a number of papers engage with moral concepts that are central to different approaches to navigating these conflicts in practical debates. While it may clearly be in the interests of the collective to restrict the transmission of a dangerous infectious pathogen, methods of achieving this aim can be contrary to the interests of the particular individuals targeted by the intervention. Consider quarantine measures; in quarantine, individuals who are merely suspected of carrying …. (shrink)
There is evidence to suggest that some patients who undergo Deep Brain Stimulation can experience changes to dispositional, emotional and behavioural states that play a central role in conceptions of personality, identity, autonomy, authenticity, agency and/or self. For example, some patients undergoing DBS for Parkinson’s Disease have developed hypersexuality, and some have reported increased apathy. Moreover, experimental psychiatric applications of DBS may intentionally seek to elicit changes to the patient’s dispositional, emotional and behavioural states, in so far as dysfunctions in (...) these states may undergird the targeted disorder. Such changes following DBS have been of considerable interest to ethicists, but there is a considerable degree of conflict amongst different parties to this debate about whether DBS really does change PIAAAS, and whether this matters. This paper explores these conflicting views and suggests that we may be able to mediate this conflict by attending more closely to what parties to the debate mean when they invoke the concepts lumped together under the acronym PIAAAS. Drawing on empirical work on patient attitudes, this paper outlines how these different understandings of the concepts incorporated into PIAAAS have been understood in this debate, and how they may relate to other fundamental concepts in medical ethics such as well-being and autonomy. The paper clarifies some key areas of disagreement in this context, and develops proposals for how ethicists might fruitfully contribute to future empirical assessments of apparent changes to PIAAAS following DBS treatment. (shrink)
In an intriguing essay, G. A. Cohen has defended a conservative bias in favour of existing value. In this paper, we consider whether Cohen’s conservatism raises a new challenge to the use of human enhancement technologies. We develop some of Cohen’s suggestive remarks into a new line of argument against human enhancement that, we believe, is in several ways superior to existing objections. However, we shall argue that on closer inspection, Cohen’s conservatism fails to offer grounds for a strong sweeping (...) objection to enhancement, and may even offer positive support for forms of enhancement that preserve valuable features of human beings. Nevertheless, we concede that Cohen’s arguments may suggest some plausible and important constraints on the modality of legitimate and desirable enhancements. (shrink)
Under the current Mental Health Act of England and Wales, it is lawful to perform deep brain stimulation in the absence of consent and independent approval. We argue against the Care Quality Commission's preferred strategy of addressing this problematic issue, and offer recommendations for deep brain stimulation-specific provisions in a revised Mental Health Act.
According to what Douglas calls ‘the consent requirement’, neuro-correctives can only permissibly be provided with the valid consent of the offender who will undergo the intervention. Some of those who endorse the consent requirement have claimed that even though the requirement prohibits the imposition of mandatory neurocorrectives on criminal offenders, it may yet be permissible to offer offenders the opportunity to consent to undergoing such an intervention, in return for a reduction to their penal sentence. I call this the neurocorrective (...) offer. In this chapter I consider the coercion-based objection to the neurocorrective offer, which claims that offenders cannot provide valid consent to undergoing a neurocorrective on the basis of this offer because it is inherently coercive. Having outlined early formulations of this argument, I point out that there are in fact two different versions of this objection, which appeal to different understandings of the concepts of coercion, consent and voluntariness. (shrink)
In a recent article in this journal, Schaefer et al. argue that it might be possible to enhance autonomy through the use of cognitive enhancements. In this article, I highlight an example that Schaefer et al. do not acknowledge of a way in which we already seem to be using pharmacological agents in a manner that can be understood as enhancing an agent’s autonomy. To make this argument, I begin by following other theorists in the philosophical literature in claiming that (...) impulsivity can serve to undermine an agent’s autonomy. I then explain that we are already able to reduce impulsivity through the use of pharmacological interventions, as is evidenced by the use of Methylphenidate in the treatment of ADHD. (shrink)
“Bioconservatives” in the human enhancement debate endorse the conservative claim that we should reject the use of biotechnologies that enhance natural human capacities. However, they often ground their objections to enhancement with contestable claims about human nature that are also in tension with other common tenets of conservatism. We argue that bioconservatives could raise a more plausible objection to enhancement by invoking a strain of conservative thought developed by G.A. Cohen. Although Cohen’s conservatism is not sufficient to fully revive the (...) bioconservative objection, we argue that it can be supplemented by an account of reasonable partiality for humanity in a way that provides further support to the bioconservative position in a manner congruous with broader conservatism. We propose that the idea of partiality to humanity can buttress the bioconservative objection into its strongest possible form. However, we conclude by arguing that, even in this form, the objection cannot do all the work that bioconservatives expect of it. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that deceptive placebo use can be morally permissible, on the grounds that the deception involved in the prescription of deceptive placebos can differ in kind to the sorts of deception that undermine personal autonomy. In order to argue this, I shall first delineate two accounts of why deception is inimical to autonomy. On these accounts, deception is understood to be inimical to the deceived agent’s autonomy because it either involves subjugating the deceived agent’s will to (...) another’s authority or because it precludes the agent from acting effectively in pursuit of their ends. I shall argue that providing an agent with false beliefs is not inimical to their autonomy if they are only able to effectively pursue their autonomously chosen ends by virtue of holding those particular false beliefs. Finally, I show that deceptive placebo use need only involve this latter sort of deception. (shrink)
It is argued that instrumentalizing the value of art does an injustice to artistic appreciation and provides a hostage to fortune. Whilst aestheticism offers an intellectual bulwark against such an approach, it focuses on what is distinctive of art at the expense of broader artistic values. It is argued that artistic appreciation and creativity involve not just skills but excellences of character. The nature of particular artistic or appreciative virtues and vices are briefly explored, such as snobbery, aestheticism and creativity, (...) in order to motivate a virtue theoretic approach. Artistic virtues are intrinsically valuable excellences of character that enable us to create or appreciate all sorts of things from everyday recipes to the finest achievements of humankind. Such an approach offers a new way to resist the age old temptation to instrumentalize the values of art. (shrink)
In this response piece, I argue that the ‘coercive paternalism’ that Sarah Conly endorses in her book Against Autonomy veers towards a back-door perfectionism. Although Conly points out that coercive paternalism does not mandate the imposition of alien values upon us in the same way that perfectionism does, I argue that coercive paternalism might yet impose an alien weighting of our own values; this, I suggest, means that coercive paternalism remains perfectionist in spirit, if not in letter. I go on (...) to concede to Conly that coercive paternalism might be warranted in preventing actions that threaten health and that are only carried out on the basis of cognitive error. However, I conclude by claiming that we must take great care about what we presume that people are consuming only on the basis of cognitive error. More specifically, I suggest that it is crucial that we avoid defining our terms in such a manner that it becomes impossible for agents to choose some action that poses a risk to their health without them being accused of making a cognitive error in weighing their values in that way. (shrink)
Mosquito-borne diseases represent a significant global disease burden, and recent outbreaks of such diseases have led to calls to reduce mosquito populations. Furthermore, advances in ‘gene-drive’ technology have raised the prospect of eradicating certain species of mosquito via genetic modification. This technology has attracted a great deal of media attention, and the idea of using gene-drive technology to eradicate mosquitoes has been met with criticism in the public domain. In this paper, I shall dispel two moral objections that have been (...) raised in the public domain against the use of gene-drive technologies to eradicate mosquitoes. The first objection invokes the concept of the ‘sanctity of life’ in order to claim that we should not drive an animal to extinction. In response, I follow Peter Singer in raising doubts about general appeals to the sanctity of life, and argue that neither individual mosquitoes nor mosquitoes species considered holistically are appropriately described as bearing a significant degree of moral status. The second objection claims that seeking to eradicate mosquitoes amounts to displaying unacceptable degrees of hubris. Although I argue that this objection also fails, I conclude by claiming that it raises the important point that we need to acquire more empirical data about, inter alia, the likely effects of mosquito eradication on the ecosystem, and the likelihood of gene-drive technology successfully eradicating the intended mosquito species, in order to adequately inform our moral analysis of gene-drive technologies in this context. (shrink)
There is preliminary evidence, from case reports and investigational studies, to suggest that Deep Brain Stimulation could be used to treat some patients with Anorexia Nervosa. Although this research is at an early stage, the invasive nature of the intervention and the vulnerability of the potential patients are such that anticipatory ethical analysis is warranted. In this paper, we first show how different treatment mechanisms raise different philosophical and ethical questions. We distinguish three potential mechanisms alluded to in the neuroscientific (...) literature, relating to desire, control, and emotion, respectively. We explain why the precise nature of the mechanism has important implications for the patient’s autonomy and personal identity. In the second part of the paper, we consider practical dimensions of offering DBS to patients with AN in certain cases. We first discuss some limited circumstances where the mere offering of the intervention might be perceived as exerting a degree of coercive pressure that could serve to undermine the validity of the patient’s consent. Finally, we consider the implications of potential effects of DBS for the authenticity of the patient’s choice to continue using stimulation to ameliorate their condition. (shrink)
The publication of the first study to use gene editing techniques in human embryos (Liang et al., 2015) has drawn outrage from many in the scientific community. The prestigious scientific journals Nature and Science have published commentaries which call for this research to be strongly discouraged or halted all together (Lanphier et al., 2015; Baltimore et al., 2015). We believe this should be questioned. There is a moral imperative to continue this research.
Jurgen Habermas has argued that carrying out pre-natal germline enhancements would be inimical to the future child's autonomy. In this article, I suggest that many of the objections that have been made against Habermas' arguments by liberals in the enhancement debate misconstrue his claims. To explain why, I begin by explaining how Habermas' view of personal autonomy confers particular importance to the agent's embodiment and social environment. In view of this, I explain that it is possible to draw two arguments (...) against germline enhancements from Habermas' thought. I call these arguments ‘the argument from negative freedom’ and ‘the argument from natality’. Although I argue that many of the common liberal objections to Habermas are not applicable when his arguments are properly understood, I go on to suggest ways in which supporters of enhancement might appropriately respond to Habermas' arguments. (shrink)
In his discussion of in vitrogametogenesis, Rob Sparrow claims that an ethical barrier to development of this technology is that many jurisdictions currently prohibit the practice of creating embryos solely for the purpose of research. However, he suggests that this ethical barrier will soon be eroded, in view of the fact that in vitro gametogenesis could serve as a powerful new technology to overcome infertility. In this commentary, I argue that Sparrow is being overly optimistic in his analysis here. I (...) claim that the debate over so-called compromise positions in the human embryonic stem cell debate suggests that the purpose of the research for which a research embryo is created is unlikely to be considered as having any significant bearing on the moral permissibility of the practice for those who oppose it. Even though in vitro gametogenesis could serve as a powerful new technology to overcome infertility, I argue that opponents of the practice of creating embryos solely for research purposes would still view the creation of research embryos that the development of in vitro gametogenesis would require, as being incompatible with affording the embryo proper moral respect. I conclude by suggesting that Sparrow's analysis of the potential benefits of in vitro gametogenesis provides us with further reasons to scrutinise the unconvincing arguments that are often cited in favour of prohibiting the practice of creating embryos solely for research purposes. (shrink)
Emotions play an important part in moral life. Within clinical ethics support (CES), one should take into account the crucial role of emotions in moral cases in clinical practice. In this paper, we present an Aristotelian approach to emotions. We argue that CES can help participants deal with emotions by fostering a joint process of investigation of the role of emotions in a case. This investigation goes beyond empathy with and moral judgment of the emotions of the case presenter. In (...) a moral case deliberation, the participants are invited to place themselves in the position of the case presenter and to investigate their own emotions in the situation. It is about critically assessing the facts in the case that cause the emotion and the related (moral) thoughts that accompany the emotion. It is also about finding the right emotion in a given situation and finding the right balance in dealing with that emotion. These steps in the moral inquiry give rise to group learning. It is a process of becoming open towards the perspectives of others, leading to new insights into what is an appropriate emotion in the specific situation. We show how this approach works in moral case deliberation. A physician presents a situation in which he is faced with a pregnant woman who is about to deliver multiple extremely premature infants at the threshold of viability. The moral deliberation of the case and the emotions therein leads to the participants’ conclusion that “compassion” is a more adequate emotion than “sadness”. The emotion “sadness” is pointed towards the tragedy that is happening to the woman. The emotion “compassion” is pointed towards the woman; it combines consideration and professional responsibility. Through the shift towards compassion, participants experienced more creativity and freedom to deal with the sad situation and to support the woman. The paper ends with an analysis and reflection on the deliberation process. In the conclusion we argue for more attention to emotions in clinical ethics support and offer some directions for doing this in the right way. (shrink)
Experiences of Depression is a philosophical exploration of what it is like to be depressed. In this important new book, Matthew Ratcliffe develops a detailed account of depression experiences by drawing on work in phenomenology, philosophy of mind and psychology, and several other disciplines.
Violence risk assessment tools are increasingly used within criminal justice and forensic psychiatry, however there is little relevant, reliable and unbiased data regarding their predictive accuracy. We argue that such data are needed to (i) prevent excessive reliance on risk assessment scores, (ii) allow matching of different risk assessment tools to different contexts of application, (iii) protect against problematic forms of discrimination and stigmatisation, and (iv) ensure that contentious demographic variables are not prematurely removed from risk assessment tools.
In recent years, many non-consequentialists such as Frances Kamm and Thomas Scanlon have been puzzling over what has come to be known as the Number Problem, which is how to show that the greater number in a rescue situation should be saved without aggregating the claims of the many, a typical kind of consequentialist move that seems to violate the separateness of persons. In this article, I argue that these non-consequentialists may be making the task more difficult than necessary, because (...) allowing aggregation does not prevent one from being a non-consequentialist. I shall explain how a non-consequentialist can still respect the separateness of persons while allowing for aggregation. (shrink)
At what age should children acquire adult rights? To what extent are parents morally permitted to shape the beliefs of their children? How should childbearing rights and resources be distributed? Matthew Clayton provides a controversial set of answers to these and related issues in this pivotal new work.