BackgroundBiobanks are considered to be key infrastructures for research development and have generated a lot of debate about their ethical, legal and social implications. While the focus has been on human genomic research, rapid advances in human microbiome research further complicate the debate.DiscussionWe draw on two cystic fibrosis biobanks in Toronto, Canada, to illustrate our points. The biobanks have been established to facilitate sample and data sharing for research into the link between disease progression and microbial dynamics in the lungs (...) of pediatric and adult patients. We begin by providing an overview of some of the ELSI associated with human microbiome research, particularly on the implications for the broader society. We then discuss ethical considerations regarding the identifiability of samples biobanked for human microbiome research, and examine the issue of return of results and incidental findings. We argue that, for the purposes of research ethics oversight, human microbiome research samples should be treated with the same privacy considerations as human tissues samples. We also suggest that returning individual microbiome-related findings could provide a powerful clinical tool for care management, but highlight the need for a more grounded understanding of contextual factors that may be unique to human microbiome research.ConclusionsWe revisit the ELSI of biobanking and consider the impact that human microbiome research might have. Our discussion focuses on identifiability of human microbiome research samples, and return of research results and incidental findings for clinical management. (shrink)
A simple exposition of Wittgenstein's two main works together with a brief discussion of Ryle, Strawson, Hart, and Urmson. This work does not enter into philosophically deep enough waters to interest the advanced student.--J. M.
This pamphlet contains essays by Will Herberg, C. Herman Pritchett, David Fellman, Valerie Earle and Sidney Hook on the principle of academic freedom, its implications, and its recognition by the courts. Will Herberg in the opening essay argues that the greatest threat to academic freedom is the politicization of the university, the pressure to convert the university into an agency of social and political action. Unless the university is thoroughly depoliticized and rededicated exclusively to the cause of learning and (...) scholarship, warns Herberg, it will be destroyed. C. H. Pritchett provides a useful summary of nearly all the Supreme Court's decisions bearing in some way on the academic freedom of teachers. Sidney Hook maintains that the Supreme Court has failed to make certain basic distinctions in its opinions, i.e., between the obligations of public employees and employees in private institutions; between those in professions of public trust and those who are not; and between membership in highly disciplined organizations with purposes antithetical to democratic values and membership in others which are broad in purpose and loosely bound together. From an analysis of the opinions of the Supreme Court and the nature and defense of academic freedom, Hook concludes that the court is a very uncertain protector and guide. In matters of professional ethics, it is the faculties themselves which must uphold and enforce standards of professional integrity. Their failure to do so has led to unnecessary and unwise legislative intervention. Recent events on many college and university campuses, and in particular the increasing resort to civil courts to adjudicate what are basically professional disputes, have emphasized the need for the type of discussion contained in this brief volume.--J. P. D. (shrink)
From 1998 to 2005, six elections took place in postcommunist Europe that had the surprising outcome of empowering the opposition and defeating authoritarian incumbents or their designated successors. Valerie J. Bunce and Sharon L. Wolchik compare these unexpected electoral breakthroughs. They draw three conclusions. First, the opposition was victorious because of the hard and creative work of a transnational network composed of local opposition and civil society groups, members of the international democracy assistance community and graduates of successful electoral (...) challenges to authoritarian rule in other countries. Second, the remarkable run of these upset elections reflected the ability of this network to diffuse an ensemble of innovative electoral strategies across state boundaries. Finally, elections can serve as a powerful mechanism for democratic change. This is especially the case when civil society is strong, the transfer of political power is through constitutional means, and opposition leaders win with small mandates. (shrink)
Muraskas et al. and Hefferman and Heilig present the painfully elusive ethical questions regarding decisionmaking in the care of the extremely low birth weight infants in the intensive care nursery. At what gestation or size do we resuscitate? Can we stop resuscitation after we have started? How much money is too much to spend? Is the distress of the parents of the ELBW infant, the anguish of their caregivers, and the moral and ethical uncertainty of the approach to these infants (...) too much to pay? Who speaks for the neonate: the parent, nurse, attorney, or physician? Ideally these questions should have been answered 30 years ago when modern neonatology embarked on a journey from where it could not return. A new breed of physician, called “neonatologist,” seduced by the high-tech lure and the promise of saving lives previously unsavable pioneered a lucrative and life-saving technological revolution in the care of premature newborns. This rapid advancement in neonatology occurred a few years after the death of a premature infant named Patrick Kennedy in 1963. While the country mourned, medical scientists vowed that this would not happen again. First continuous positive airway pressure, then mechanical ventilation, changed medical care of premature newborns forever. It began an era of euphoria and excitement. Neonatologists raced to push to the edge of newborn viability. What was the youngest salvageable gestational age? What was the smallest that could be saved? Yes, we dreamed, and still do dream of artificial placentas. Ethical questions took a back seat in the search for the edge because the waters were uncharted and the tough questions could not be answered without experience. What was to be the cost in dollars and in anguish to save the Patrick Kennedys of the world? Triumphs led to grave concerns as we approached the edge. However, no advancement in neonatology has ever changed the ultimate questions. (shrink)
In “Potential Subjects’ Responses to an Ethics Questionnaire in a Phase I Study of Deep-Brain Stimulation in Early Parkinson’s Disease,” Finder, Bliton, Gill, Davis, Konrad, and Charles undertake informed consent research on what they describe as a Phase I trial of deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s disease. We argue that the authors should have more carefully characterized the nature of the DBS study at the start of their clinical study.
Conservationists criticized the Walt Disney Company after word leaked out that shark fin soup would be served at Hong Kong Disneyland. Disney understood shark fin soup as a traditional item featured in Chinese wedding banquets and in sealing business deals. Eliminating the delicacy from the menu might undermine local customs and engender loss of “face”. Environmentalists argued that securing the shark fin involved a barbaric practice destroying the shark ecosystem, and that the soup represented an emerging status symbol rather than (...) an intrinsic feature of Chinese culture. Case study participants will gather together as Disney management executives to discuss the ethics of serving shark fin soup in light of environmental sensitivities, cultural factors, and existing stakeholder fiduciary responsibilities. Hong Kong Disneyland’s resolution surfaced after initial indecisiveness; their current corporate policy on social responsibility should not affect each management teams’ deliberation process and rationale for a recommendation regarding shark fin soup. (shrink)
It's very interesting to see neurophysiological evidence brought to bear on the puzzling question of conscious experience. Many have observed that information-processing models of cognition seem to leave consciousness untouched; it is natural to hope that turning to neurophysiology might lead us to the Holy Grail. Still, I think there are reasons to be skeptical. There are good reasons to suppose that neurophysiological investigation contributes to cognitive explanation at best in virtue of constraining the information-processing structure of cognition. Of course (...) this is a very large and significant role for it to play, but it may be over-optimistic to suppose that it can play some further explanatory role, taking us where information-processing theories cannot. If so, then neurophysiological accounts will be no more and no less successful at dealing with consciousness than information-processing accounts are. (shrink)
At the close of the recent Boston Symposium, a panel discussion was held on the general theme of the conference. The following are the remarks of Professor J. N. Findlay of Yale, recorded and transcribed here with his permission.