The ethics of care still appeals to many in spite of penetrating criticisms of it which have been presented over the past 15 years or so. This paper tries to offer an explanation for this, and then to critically engage with three versions of an ethics of care. The explanation consists firstly in the close affinities between nursing and care. The three versions identified below are by Gilligan (1982 ), a second by Tronto (1993 ), and a third by Gastmans (...) (2006 ), see also Little (1998 ). Each version is described and then subjected to criticism. It is concluded that where the ethics of care is presented in a distinctive way, it is at its least plausible; where it is stated in more plausible forms, it is not sufficiently distinct from nor superior to at least one other common approach to nursing ethics, namely the much-maligned 'four principles' approach. What is added by this paper to what is already known: as the article tries to explain, in spite of its being subjected to sustained criticism the ethics of care retains its appeal to many scholars. The paper tries to explain why, partly by distinguishing three different versions of an ethics of care. It is also shown that all three versions are beset with problems the least serious of which is distinctiveness from other approaches to moral problems in health care. (shrink)
Is it true that an ethics of care offers something distinct from other approaches to ethical problems in nursing, especially principlism? In this article an attempt is made to clarify an ethics of care and then to argue that there need be no substantial difference between principlism and an ethics of care when the latter is considered in the context of nursing. The article begins by considering the question of how one could in fact differentiate moral theories. As is explained, (...) this cannot be done merely in light of the moral judgements they defend, nor their ontological commitments (e.g. their view of the nature of persons). Following these methodological beginnings, care-based ethics is described and critically discussed. It is shown that ontological commitments embraced within care ethics do not themselves show that care ethics is distinct from other approaches. The idea of ‘psychological care’ is also discussed, which stems from the work of Margaret Little. Her claim that the ‘gestalts’ of justice and care cannot be combined is rejected in favour of an approach that does just that and which has been developed by Joan Tronto. It is then claimed that the moral commitments of principlism are certainly not incompatible with those of an ethics of care in the nursing context. A challenge to the idea that principlism and ethics of care might be compatible is anticipated in the work of Eva Feder Kittay. This challenge is responded to and it is concluded that care considered as a moral orientation and the moral values embedded in principlism are best combined in the nursing context. Care provides a moral orientation over which the obligations referred to in principlism can be laid. (shrink)
This paper has three main aims. The first is to provide a critical assessment of two rival concepts of suffering, that proposed by Cassell and that proposed in this journal by van Hooft. The second aim of the paper is to sketch a more plausible concept of suffering, one which derives from a Wittgensteinian view of linguistic meaning. This more plausible concept is labeled an âintuitive conceptâ. The third aim is to assess the prospects for scientific understanding of suffering.
This paper is prompted by the charge that the prevailing Western paradigm of medical knowledge is essentially Cartesian. Hence, illness, disease, disability, etc. are said to be conceived of in Cartesian terms. The paper attempts to make use of the critique of Cartesianism in medicine developed by certain commentators, notably Leder (1992), in order to expose Cartesian commitments in conceptions of disability. The paper also attempts to sketch an alternative conception of disability â one partly inspired by the work of (...) Merleau-Ponty. In particular, three key Cartesian claims are identified and subjected to criticism. These are as follows: (a) The claim that the body is an object, (b) what is termed here âthe modularity thesisâ, and (c) the claim that the body cannot be constitutive of the self (i.e. since the soul/mind/brain is). In opposition to these claims, it is argued that the body is properly viewed as a subject; that there are neither purely mental, nor purely physical disabilities; and that selves are constituted, at least in part, by their bodies. (shrink)
Sports Medicine as an apparent sub-class of medicine has developed apace over the past 30 years. Its recent trajectory has been evidenced by the emergence of specialist international research journals, standard texts, annual conferences, academic appointments and postgraduate courses. Although this field of enquiry and practice lays claim to the title ‘sports medicine’ this paper queries the legitimacy of that claim. Depending upon how ‘sports medicine’ and ‘medicine’ are defined, a plausible-sounding case can be made to show that sports medicine (...) is not in fact a branch of medicine. Rather, it is sometimes closer to practices such as non-therapeutic cosmetic surgery. The argument of the paper is as follows. It begins with a brief statement concerning methodology. We then identify and subscribe to a plausible defining goal of medicine taken from a recognised authority in the field. Then two representative, authoritative, definitions of sports medicine are discussed. It is then shown that acceptance of these definitions of sports medicine generates a problem in that if they are accepted, no necessary commitment to the defining goal of medicine is present within sports medicine. It seems to follow that sports medicine is not medicine. In the final part of the paper a critical response to that conclusion is presented and rebutted. The response is one which rejects the identification of the defining goal of medicine upon which our argument rests. (shrink)
This paper is an attempt to provide a critical evaluation of the theory of disability put forward by Lennart Nordenfelt. The paper is in five sections. The first sets out the main elements of Nordenfelt's theory. The second section elaborates the theory further, identifies a tension in the theory, and three kinds of problems for it. The tension derives from Nordenfelt's attempt to respect two important but conflicting constraints on a theory of health. The problems derive from characterisation of the (...) goals of persons; the difficulty which Nordenfelt has in respecting the plausible view that there is a distinction between illness and disability; and the presence in the theory of other strongly counter-intuitive implications. In section three a defence of Nordenfelt is attempted from within the resources available within his own theory. This defence seeks to exploit his distinctions between a person who is ill and one who is generally disabled and that between first- and second-order disabilities. However, it is concluded that there are insufficient resources within Nordenfelt's theory to fend off the criticisms developed in section two. The fourth section of the paper attempts a defence of Nordenfelt. It is claimed that introduction of the concept of capacity helps to explain differences between problem cases in the theory. Finally, it is shown that at least two important constraints on any theory of disability emerge from the preceding discussion. (shrink)
It was reported in 2006 that a regime of ‘supervised self harm’ had been implemented at St George’s Hospital, Stafford. This involves patients with a history of self-harming behaviour being offered both emotional and practical support to enable them to do so. This support can extend to the provision of knives or razors to enable them to self-harm while they are being supervised by a nurse. This article discusses, and evaluates from an ethical perspective, three competing responses to self-harming behaviours: (...) to prevent it; to allow it; and to make provision for supervised self-harm. It is argued that of these three options the prevention strategy is the least plausible. A tentative conclusion is offered in support of supervised self-harm. (shrink)
In the UK and elsewhere suicide presents a major cause of death. In 2008 in the UK the topic of suicide rarely left the news. Controversy surrounding Daniel James and Debbie Purdy ensured that the problem of assisted suicide received frequent media discussion. This was fuelled also by reports of a higher than usual number of suicides by young people in South Wales. Attention attracted by cases such as that of Daniel James and Debbie Purdy can lead to a neglect (...) of the problem of how to respond to the vast majority of suicides, in which there is no obvious accompanying health problem. This paper seeks to redress that balance to some degree. Its focus is primarily on the provision of assisted suicide when the person seeking such assistance has no accompanying health problem. It is argued that a network of suicide centres (SCs) should be established, the purpose which in certain circumstances, will extend to assisting suicide in cases where a competent person has a definite, sustained intention to end their own life. Arguments in support of this proposal are provided, focusing on respect for autonomy, relief of suffering and respect for the ‘life-plan’ of a person. Considerations relating to reduction of harms to third parties are also recruited. Eight responses to the proposal are considered. But none is found compelling, nor are they found jointly compelling. (shrink)
The appropriateness of economic valuations of the natural environment is defended on the basis of an objective analysis of individuals’ preferences. The egoistic model of “economic man” substantiates economic valuations of instrumental values even when markets do not exist and when consumption and use are not involved. However, “altruistic man’s” genuine commitment to the well-being of others, particularly wildlife and future generations, challenges economic valuations at a fundamental level. In this case, self-interest and an indifference between states of the world (...) are secondary and undefined respectively, since preferences are not based on tradeoffs between the welfare of others and self. The appropriateness of economic valuations rests solely with the empirical validity of the assumptions that give rise to economic man. (shrink)
This research was motivated by the author’s personal experiences with various breathing methods as well as meaningful breathing experiences reported by clients, colleagues and friends. The meaning of breathing is discussed in relation to consciousness, bodiliness, spirituality, illness prevention and health promotion. Experiencing the meaning of breathing is to experience more meaning in life itself. Experiential vignettes confirm that breathing skills may be regarded as an original method of survival, energy control, improving quality of life, preventing illness and promoting health. (...) Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology , Volume 6, Edition 1 May 2006. (shrink)
The HeartMath system refers to various methods, tools and techniques developed by the HeartMath Institute, a global research and educational organization. Working from an interdisciplinary, scientific foundation, the institute has adopted a coherence model to promote its vision and mission of education and health. This model is based on empirical, predominantly natural scientific foundations. Although many, rigorous studies have provided a substantial evidence base of the science and praxis of personal, social and global coherence, the actual coherence experience has not (...) yet been investigated. To address this gap in the HeartMath research evidence, this heuristic phenomenological investigation was organized into three phases, with the goal of eliciting the essential structure of the coherence experience. The first phase consisted of a quantitatively orientated review of the author’s personal HeartMath practice records, with special focus on examples of highest coherence levels and achievement scores, as measured on HeartMath instruments, and as available on Heart Cloud records. In the second qualitatively orientated phase, ten selected descriptions, perceived to be good examples of coherence experiences, were synthesized into an essential review summary. The third, pilot study, phase explored the actual coherence experience of ten consecutive HeartMath sessions, varying with regard to context, duration, time, place and manner of practice. Essential summary findings of the coherence experience are discussed with regard to personal, social and global implications for research, education and health promotion. (shrink)
A number of commentators claim their disability to be a part of their identity. This claim can be labelled ‘the identity claim’. It is the claim that disabling characteristics of persons can be identity-constituting. According to a central constraint on traditional discussions of personal identity over time, only essential properties can count as identity-constituting properties. By this constraint, contingent properties of persons (those they might not have instanced) cannot be identity-constituting. Viewed through the lens of traditional approaches to the problem (...) of personal identity over time, disablement is most likely to be regarded as a contingent property of a person and not an essential one. Hence, on traditional approaches, the identity claim must be false. An alternative account of identity is sketched here. It is one which exploits the idea of narrative identity, and points to five basic features of personal existence. When accounts of identity are structured in relation to these five features, it is argued, disablement can be shown to be identity-constituting, and hence the identity claim can be accepted. (shrink)
This work is a response to a request from the phenomenology group at Edith Cowan University. The paper is based on seminar discussions, experiences and ideas that have been contextualized within phenomenological literature. The notion of phenomenology as intervention has become increasingly apparent owing to the value of its practical applications in the human and social sciences. The paper explores the theme with special reference to research and psychotherapeutic interventions. Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology , Volume 1, Edition 2 September 2001.
This article sets out to explore the essential meaning of the experience of exercise through obtaining descriptions of the experience of exercise in relation to various questions about the nature of this experience. The paper proceeds to discuss contemporary research related to aspects of the exercise experience and uses poetry as a vehicle to sensitize readers to the subtleties of the experiences associated with exercise. Using a qualitative methodology, forty three culturally-diverse postgraduate students were given a questionnaire that examined their (...) communal and personal experiences of exercise. Participants were divided into five focus groups, each participating in discussions regarding exercise and its effects. The research outcomes indicate that exercise was generally viewed positively by individuals, and that exercise was felt to be a shared communal experience that fostered cooperation and interaction. The paper concludes by discussing how exercise facilitates an appreciation of the world, and reminds readers that exercise is more than just physical activity, and importantly is a "celebration of the human spirit". (shrink)