Machine generated contents note: 1. Seven ways of making people better; 2. Rational approaches to the genetic challenge; 3. The best babies and parental responsibility; 4. Deaf embryos, morality, and the law; 5. Saviour siblings and treating people as a means; 6. Reproductive cloning and designing human beings; 7. Embryonic stem cells, vulnerability, and sanctity; 8. Gene therapies, hopes, and fears; 9. Considerable life extension and the meaning of life; 10. Taking the genetic challenge rationally.
Are there distinctly European values in bioethics, and if there are, what are they? Some Continental philosophers have argued that the principles of dignity, precaution, and solidarity reflect the European ethos better than the liberal concepts of autonomy, harm, and justice. These principles, so the argument goes, elevate prudence over hedonism, communality over individualism, and moral sense over pragmatism. Contrary to what their proponents often believe, however, dignity, precaution, and solidarity can be interpreted in many ways, and it is not (...) clear which reading would, or should, be favored by popular opinion. It is therefore dangerous to think that any one understanding of ``European'', or any other, values could be legitimately imposed on those who have different ideas about morality in health care and related fields. Bioethical principles should be employed to promote discussion, not to suppress it. (shrink)
Rights, autonomy, privacy, and confidentialityare concepts commonly used in discussionsconcerning genetic information. When theseconcepts are thought of as denoting absolutenorms and values which cannot be overriden byother considerations, conflicts among themnaturally occur.In this paper, these and related notions areexamined in terms of the duties and obligationsmedical professionals and their clients canhave regarding genetic knowledge. It issuggested that while the prevailing idea ofautonomy is unhelpful in the analysis of theseduties, and the ensuing rights, an alternativereading of personal self-determination canprovide a firmer (...) basis for ethical guidelinesand policies in this field. (shrink)
In a contribution to The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy , Professor Rosamond Rhodes argues that individuals sometimes have an obligation to know about their genetic disorders, because this is required by their status as autonomous persons. Her analysis, which is based on Kant's concept of autonomy and Aristotle's notion of friendship, is extended here to consequentialist concerns. These are of paramount importance if, as we believe and Professor Rhodes herself implies, the Kantian and Aristotelian doctrines can be helpful only (...) in the sphere of private morality, not in the public realm. Better tools for assessing the right to genetic ignorance as an issue of public policy can, we contend, be found in Mill's ideas concerning liberty and the prevention of harm. Our own conclusion, based on the Millian way of thinking, is that individuals probably do have the right to remain in ignorance in the cases Professor Rhodes presents as examples of a duty to know. (shrink)
In contemporary discussions on practical ethics, the concepts of autonomy and dignity have frequently been opposed. This tendency has been particularly visible in controversies regarding cloning, abortion, organ sales, and euthanasia. Freedom of research and freedom of choice, as instances of professional and personal autonomy, have been cited in arguments favouring these practices, while the dignity and sanctity of human life have been evoked in arguments against them. In the moral theory of Immanuel Kant, however, the concepts of autonomy and (...) dignity seem to coexist in mutual harmony. Respect for the freely chosen moral law and respect for the absolute value of humanity coincide, and give rise to a unified understanding of our duties toward ourselves and others. My question in this paper is, was Kant on to something here? Can autonomy and dignity, in the sense in which they are used in current debates, be brought together, and can the arguments be settled in a way that would satisfy both (or all) disagreeing parties? My answer to the question is, yes and no. Kant was definitely on to something in that he recognized two competing views in modern moral philosophy, and tried to consolidate them in an attempt to create a universal model of ethics. But in the end, he failed to fuse the two views together on equal terms. Instead, he sacrificed the modern idea of the self-governance of individuals on the altar of the premodern notion of the absolute inner worth of humanity. (shrink)
This book explores the many connections that bioethical thinking has with social reality. Bioethics, if it is to be effective, must engage with and address the actualities of modern life: policies, regulations, markets, opinions, and technological advances. In these original contributions fifteen notable scholars working in the North West of England take on this challenge.Values in Bioethics makes available original philosophical books in all areas of bioethics, including medical and nursing ethics, health care ethics, research ethics, environmental ethics, and global (...) bioethics. (shrink)
This paper shows how most modern theories of justice could require or at least condone international aid aimed at alleviating the ill effects of disability. Seen from the general viewpoint of liberal egalitarianism, this is moderately encouraging, since according to the creed people in bad positions should be aided, and disability tends to put people in such positions. The actual responses of many theories, including John Rawls's famous view of justice, remain, however, unclear. Communitarian, liberal egalitarian, and luck egalitarian thinkers (...) alike have to consider their attitude towards cosmopolitan ideals before they can extend their theories across national borders. The only view of justice that automatically rejects the obligation of international aid based on disability is libertarianism. This is significant for two reasons. Libertarianism is arguably the economic doctrine of globalisation; and its moral appeal to voluntary charity draws attention to the foundations of voluntary corporate social res.. (shrink)
Health care services are constantly assessed by their ability to accommodate values popular in contemporary societies. Autonomy, justice, and human dignity have for some time been among such values in the affluent West. Relative newcomers in the field are the notions of and which seem to attract, in particular, Continental European ethicists. a.
With the considerable attention given to UNESCO's Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights, the time has come to take another look at the concept of dignity, on which this document is morally founded. The term “dignity” now appears in many national constitutions and international bioethical statements. It has also become popular among Continental European ethicists, many of whom wish to challenge the particularly American and overtly individualistic principles of “autonomy,” “justice,” “beneficence,” and “nonmaleficence.” a.
Relativism is usually a derogatory word in philosophical bioethics in the West. If people make the mistake of trying to understand radically “different” points of view, an accusation of relativism is quickly forthcoming. But why should this be an accusation? My aim in this paper is to demonstrate that it should not.
Concepts that refer to trends like globalization and medicalization have, of late, become a hallmark of public debates. The logic of such concepts is that the same word can refer both to good and bad developments, partly depending on the chosen viewpoint. Hardly anyone opposes the global enforcement of human rights, but the global liberation of trade is sometimes viewed with suspicion. In a similar vein, advances in medicine are seldom seen as a bad thing, but medical solutions to social (...) issues can be seen as problematic. (shrink)
_Liberal Utilitarianism and Applied Ethics_ explores the foundations of early utilitarianism and, at the same time, the theoretical bases of social ethics and policy in modern Western welfare states. Matti Hayry sees the main reason for utilitarianism's growing disrepute among moral philosophers is that its principles cannot legitimately be extended to situations where the basic needs of the individuals involved are in conflict. He is able to formulate a solution to this fundamental problem by arguing convincingly that by combining a (...) limited version of liberal utilitarianism and the methods of applied ethics, we are able to define our moral duties and rights. _Liberal Utilitarianism and Applied Ethics_ will appeal to students and teachers of philosophy who are interested in the doctrine of utilitarianism or in ethical decison-making. (shrink)
This paper examines the logic and morality of the German Stem Cell Act of 2002. After a brief description of the law’s scope and intent, its ethical dimensions are analysed in terms of symbolic threats, indirect consequences, and the encouragement of immorality. The conclusions are twofold. For those who want to accept the law, the arguments for its rationality and morality can be sound. For others, the emphasis on the uniqueness of the German experience, the combination of absolute and qualified (...) value judgments, and the lingering questions of indirect encouragement of immoral activities will probably be too much. (shrink)
This paper explores the historical idea of improving humanity. Developments in genetics and political thought have during the last century contributed to eugenic policies which have sometimes had adverse effects on people's lives. But European philosophy has seen attempts to make better human beings long before the current scientific advances. The paper explores these attempts by an examination of the doctrines of Plato, Aristotle, Condorcet, Herder, and Mill, as well as the technological Romanticism of Mary Shelley, before moving on to (...) the more recent eugenic policies inspired by Darwin and Galton. (shrink)
Health care services are constantly assessed by their ability to accommodate values popular in contemporary societies. Autonomy, justice, and human dignity have for some time been among such values in the affluent West. Relative newcomers in the field are the notions of “precaution” and “solidarity,” which seem to attract, in particular, Continental European ethicists. a.
The idea of cloning adult human beings often gives rise to objections involving mad dictators producing copies of themselves, or deranged billionaires who want to live forever. But what about situations where we can more readily understand and accept the reasons for creating a clone? Consider, for instance, the case of parents who have simultaneously lost their newly born child and found out that they cannot have any more children of their own by other known methods. Would it be wrong (...) of them to want a new child, a genetic copy of the lost infant, if the child were healthy and could only be produced by cloning the infant who no longer lives? And would it be wrong of genetic engineers to assist them? (shrink)
In this paper three questions concerning quality of life in medicine and health care are analysed and discussed: the motives for measuring the quality of life, the methods used in assessing it, and the definition of the concept. The purposes of the study are to find an ethically acceptable motive for measuring the quality of life; to identify the methodological advantages and disadvantages of the most prevalent current methods of measurement; and to present an approach towards measuring and defining the (...) quality of life which evades the difficulties encountered and discussed. The analysis comprises measurements both in the clinical situation concerning individual patients and in research concerning whole populations.Three motives are found for evaluating the quality of human life: allocation of scarce medical resources, facilitating clinical decision making, and assisting patients towards autonomous decision making. It is argued that the third alternative is the only one which does not evoke ethical problems. (shrink)
According to what one might call ‘indirect” forms of utilitarian thinking, the proper end of all human action is the greatest happiness of the greatest number of individuals, but due to the fallibility of moral agents this end cannot, and must not, be directly pursued. Instead, according to at least one version of the indirect theory, moral agents have a duty to act in conformity with a set of general rules which, in their turn, have been designed to promote the (...) greatest happiness of humankind. But acts which conform to such general rules can under exceptional circumstances occasion more suffering than happiness. This is clearly problematical to indirect utilitarians. If they follow the rules regardless of the evil consequences, it can be argued that they have abandoned the basic principles of utilitarianism. If, on the other hand, they refuse to follow the rules which normally promote the general good, their view can be seen to collapse into the direct form of the creed. (shrink)
Rights can be founded in a variety of ethical systems—e.g., on natural law, on the duties postulated by deontological ethics, and on the consequences of our actions. The concept of risk we will outline supports a theory of rights which provides at least individual human beings with the entitlement not to be harmed by the environmental impacts of biotechnology. The analysis can, we believe, also be extended to the rights of animals as well as ecosystems, both of which can be (...) harmed by human actions. We argue that further examination of these harms and rights would be the best way to proceed from emotional moral objections to truly ethical analyses in the context of biotechnology and the environment. (shrink)
In this paper we shall show that structuralist constraints applied to moral idealizations, have applications in critical ethical argumentation. Moreover, we developed some systematic concepts which may be used to evaluate the relevance and adequacy of descriptions of moral problems relative to given idealizing moral perspectives. Finally, it is shown that any two moral perspectives are comparable via the Kemeny-Snell measure of distance of rankings.
This paper analyses the various effects of threats and offers on freedom. Both threats and offers are related to social power. Threats are part of coercion and they are constraints. We try to say why this is so. Offers are more problematic. We identify soft and hard offers, or offers that can be refused and those that cannot. Hard offers have several interesting features, especially in relation to individual preference orders and sets of action alternatives. This paper studies problems which (...) are implicit in Thomas Wartenberg's study of the various forms of social power in this issue of ANALYSE & KRITIK. (shrink)
Picture this. You are having your regular medical checkup, when, all of a sudden, the physician turns to you and says: “Oh, did I remember to mention that you can now live forever?” You look at the doctor enquiringly and she goes on: “Well, it’s not actual immortality, you know, but they’ve invented this treatment—I don’t have the full details—that stops aging, getting physically older. It might not be for everyone, but you seem to be a suitable candidate. You could (...) still die of accidents and illness, of course, but they’ve calculated that with care and any luck you should live to be a thousand, as opposed to the hundred or so that you would now have. And in a millennium, techniques will advance further, so there could be more in store for you after that.”. (shrink)
Except for the lines of argument we have sketched above, there are not many general conclusions that can be drawn from the ethical and philosophical AIDS discussion at the moment. It may happen that a medical research team comes forward tomorrow or next week with an effective cure for all immunodeficiency-related diseases, including full-blown AIDS, and most of our reflections turn out to be useless from the practical viewpoint. But the formulation of ethical guidelines for medical and social practice is (...) not all there is to moral philosophy. Even after each and every one of the problems dealt with in our study has lost all direct ordinary-life relevance, the principles and their application in new practical situatons remain. Therefore, let us hope that no moral philosopher will be reluctant to participate in the AIDS discussion out of the hopefully well-grounded but rather unethical fear that the problem in its primary medical form will cease to exist in the relatively near future. (shrink)
Philosophers sometimes think that philosophical ethics can be utilized in solving practical queries such as the abortion issue. They are most probably right, in principle. But they often tend to over-emphasize the importance of moral theories at the expense of the obvious diversity of ethics in practice. Practical or applied ethics cannot be reduced to the mere application of ready-made theories to practical problems.In the abortion issue the theoretical attitude leads many philosophers to think that there is one and only (...) one right solution in the matter. In the present paper it is argued that there are, in fact, many 'right-consistent and intuitive-solutions for this and for any other practical issue. Whether or not a solution will, ultimately, be the right one for us, is a matter of the intuitive acceptability of the rules the solution implies for our practical life as a whole. (shrink)
In commenting on our earlier article in IPhilosophiaD, J P Day raises four issues: those concerning (1) the correct interpretation of the concept of "conditional offers," (2) the relationship of hard conditional offers to liberty, (3) the role of preferences in distinguishing offers from threats, and (4) the moral wrongness of some forms of offering. Two of these points, the second and the third, give rise to some further argument.
Neuroethics addresses moral, legal, and social questions created or highlighted by theoretical and practical developments in neuroscience. Practices in need of scrutiny currently include at least brain imaging with new techniques, chemical attempts to shift exceptional brain function toward normality, chemical attempts to enhance ordinary brain function beyond normality, and brain manipulation by other methods.Matti H ja paha.