Vaccination is a highly effective public health strategy that provides protection to both individuals and communities from a range of infectious diseases. Governments monitor vaccination rates carefully, as widespread use of a vaccine within a population is required to extend protection to the general population through “herd immunity,” which is important for protecting infants who are not yet fully vaccinated and others who are unable to undergo vaccination for medical or other reasons. Australia is unique in employing financial incentives to (...) increase vaccination uptake, mainly in the form of various childcare payments and tax benefits linked to timely, age-appropriate vaccination. Despite relatively high compliance with the childhood vaccination schedule, however, the Australian government has determined that rates should be higher and has recently introduced policy that includes removing certain tax and childcare benefits for non-vaccinators and formally disallowing conscientious objection to vaccination. In addition, it has raised the possibility of banning unvaccinated children from childcare centres. This article examines the impact of coercive approaches to childhood vaccination and raises the question of the ethical justification of health policy initiatives based on coercion. We consider the current evidence regarding childhood vaccination in Australia, the small but real risks associated with vaccination, the ethical requirement for consent for medical procedures, and the potential social harms of targeting non-vaccinators. We conclude that the evidence does not support a move to an increasingly mandatory approach that could only be delivered through paternalistic, coercive clinical practices. (shrink)
Recent discourses about the legitimacy of homeopathy have focused on its scientific plausibility, mechanism of action, and evidence base. These, frequently, conclude not only that homeopathy is scientifically baseless, but that it is “unethical.” They have also diminished patients’ perspectives, values, and preferences. We contend that these critics confuse epistemic questions with questions of ethics, misconstrue the moral status of homeopaths, and have an impoverished idea of ethics—one that fails to account either for the moral worth of care and of (...) relationships or for the perspectives, values, and preferences of patients. Utilitarian critics, in particular, endeavour to present an objective evaluation—a type of moral calculus—quantifying the utilities and disutilities of homeopathy as a justification for the exclusion of homeopathy from research and health care. But these critiques are built upon a narrow formulation of evidence and care and a diminished episteme that excludes the values and preferences of researchers, homeopaths, and patients engaged in the practice of homeopathy. We suggest that homeopathy is ethical as it fulfils the needs and expectations of many patients; may be practiced safely and prudentially; values care and the virtues of the therapeutic relationship; and provides important benefits for patients. (shrink)
Reconciliation and the Technics of Healing Content Type Journal Article Pages 235-237 DOI 10.1007/s11673-011-9318-y Authors Paul A. Komesaroff, Monash Centre for Ethics in Medicine and Society, Monash University, Melbourne, Vic., Australia Elizabeth Kath, Global Cities Institute, RMIT University, Melbourne, Vic., Australia Paul James, Global Cities Institute, RMIT University, Melbourne, Vic., Australia Journal Journal of Bioethical Inquiry Online ISSN 1872-4353 Print ISSN 1176-7529 Journal Volume Volume 8 Journal Issue Volume 8, Number 3.
Social, political, and economic environments play an active role in nurturing professional virtue. Yet, these environments can also lead to the erosion of virtue. As such, professional virtue is fragile and vulnerable to environmental shifts. While physicians are often considered to be among the most virtuous of professional groups, concern has also always existed about the impact of commercial arrangements on physicians’ willingness and capacity to enact their professional virtues. This article examines the ways in which commercial arrangements have been (...) negotiated to secure medical virtue from real or perceived threats of erosion. In particular, we focus on the concern surrounding conflicts of interest arising from commercial arrangements that have developed as a result of neoliberal economic and social policies. The deregulation of medical markets and privatization of services have produced new commercial relationships that are often misunderstood by patients, publics, and physicians themselves. ‘Conflicts of interest’ policies have been introduced in an attempt to safeguard ethical conduct and medical practice. However, a number of virtue ethicists have critiqued these policies as inadequate for securing virtue. We examine the ways in which commercial arrangements have been seen to impact upon medical virtue, both historically and in the context of modern medicine. We then describe and critique current efforts to restore clinical virtue through both conflict of interest policies and through virtue ethics. Finally, we suggest some possible ways of addressing the corrosive effects of neoliberalism on medical virtue. (shrink)
The Ebola virus disease epidemic in Western Africa has, in recent months, aroused growing alarm in Western countries. Attention has been drawn to the threat posed to the inhabitants of the region by what has undoubtedly become a major health emergency. As the death toll has mounted, increasingly strident calls for action have been voiced by nongovernmental organizations and international agencies active in the area, such as Médecins Sans Frontières and the World Health Organization and, more recently, even by the (...) U.S. president.Critics of the Western response have claimed that the newfound concern about EVD, which has been present in Africa for nearly 40 years, reflects a longstanding disregard of the needs of people living in the region. They point out that the difficulties in controlling the spread of the disease are in large part due to the lack of effective health infrastructure, which in turn reflects global disparities in wealth and opportunity. Despite the lack of m .. (shrink)
Originally published in 1986. This work remains of compelling interest to those concerned with the natural sciences and their social problems. It puts forward original and unorthodox ideas about the philosophy of and sociology of science, starting from the conviction that modern societies face deep problems arising from unresolved dilemmas about the meaning, content and technical applications of the theories of nature they employ. The book draws on insights developed within a variety of traditions to explore these problems, especially the (...) work of Edmund Husserl and modern critical theory. (shrink)
The secret worlds of life experience, culture, sexuality and emotions are often expressed through physical “symptoms”. The lived body becomes the entry point for professionals to enter the world of the patient. This article, arising out of a study of the experiences of Greek women at menopause, discusses the story of one woman and interprets the cultural and emotional inscriptions that are carried into the clinical setting. It illustrates the multiple layers of corporeal meaning engendered by menopause and the clinical (...) interactions surrounding it. It argues that the bodies that present themselves for consultation and examination are phenomenological memoirs of suffering, struggle and illness. Even in its most technical aspects medical practice cannot ignore the philosophies, values, goals and cultural experiences of those who seek its assistance. (shrink)