Photo via freedigitalphotos.net.
By: Michael S. Dauber
“In order to study blood-spatter patterns, a group of researchers in New Zealand strapped pigs to a surgical table and shot them in the head. Some of these animals were alive. Nasty, for sure, but apparently humane. The study has been justified by the government-funded Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR), one of the collaborators, because if translatable to humans, the findings might have use in solving crimes involving gunshot wounds.”
Research ethics has been a hot subject in recent years, especially when it relates to experiments involving harm towards animals. Many object to the practice entirely, citing the fact that they believe killing is always wrong, the notion that our treatment of non-human animal subjects is speciesist (meaning discrimination based on species), and that it is wrong to use animals for experiments that have no way to consent to research participation.
Considering the study referenced above, I will evaluate whether or not killing the pigs for criminology research was permissible.
The primary ethical principle behind research involves the significance of the benefit we would derive from the experiments balanced against the quantity and type of harm we do to the creatures involved, and whether or not we have moral restrictions against doing certain things at all. In a way, the ethical principles relevant to research ethics bear a resemblance to Thomas Aquinas’s Just War Theory. Aquinas argued, among other things, that we could only engage in what was considered a “just war” if (1) one had “just cause,” or an adequate, compelling reason, (2) one had a high probability of success, and (3) one had no other options.
In advance of our regular monthly journal round-up, here are two special issues to check out! First, the brand new June 2016 issue of East Asian Science, Technology and Society is titled Transnational Psy Sciences in East and Southeast Asia. Next, a special double issue of Eä – Journal of Medical Humanities & Social Studies of Science and Technology (open access) is titled Healthism & Self-Care: Reconfiguring Body & Life through Science & Technology. Enjoy!
East Asian Science, Technology and Society
Transnational Psy Sciences in East and Southeast Asia
From the 1970s onward, the psy sciences were witness to blustering confrontations from a New Age movement heavily informed by Asian philosophy. Nowadays, yoga practices and mindfulness training have been integrated into mainstream psychotherapy. Nevertheless, such trends toward East-West admixing are in fact not at all new. Through four case studies, this special issue provides empirical data complementing the abundance of new scholarship on the history of psy sciences in East and Southeast Asia.
Making and Mapping Psy Sciences in East and Southeast Asia (open access)
Harry Yi-Jui Wu, Wen-Ji Wang
The rich history of psy disciplines or psy sciences (psychology, psychiatry, psychotherapy, psychoanalysis) in modern society has been subject to different and sometimes conflicting interpretations. Major events, theories, and figures have been recorded and the meaning of their contributions explored to illustrate the ways in which various forms of psychological knowledge become important sources of self-understanding and self-actualization. Insights into the social and cultural history of psy sciences enable us to understand the interconnection between forms of knowledge and the social order to which they relate (Eghigian et al.
Michael Orsini and Jennifer Kilty discuss the criminalization of failure to disclose HIV status.
“Calculating and ruthless.” That is how a judge described an HIV-positive man who, on March 9, was found guilty of attempted murder and aggravated assault for failing to disclose his HIV status to sexual partners. For this, the man was sentenced to 14 years in prison – a harsh sentence consistent with Canada’s dubious record as one of the most aggressive countries in prosecuting people for failing to disclose their HIV status.
In an age of anxiety about sexual risk-taking and HIV, the courts appear to be in the business of channeling a range of emotions, notably anger, disgust, and fear. Scholars refer to this process as “the emotionalization of law.”
Judge Bonnie Warkentin’s decision casts the defendant as a veritable “AIDS monster” intent on terrorizing innocent victims with a noxious substance (his semen). His victims are portrayed as being forced to live in an “environment where many countries still stigmatize and discriminate against those living with HIV.” While Judge Warkentin laments that the victim “will live in the shadow of this infection in all aspects of life,” no such sympathy is extended to the defendant. Meanwhile, he faces considerable stigma as the very public face of criminal sexual conduct.
Model of HIV virus – Smithsonian Museum of Natural History (Photo Credit: Tim Evanson, 2012)
In handing down her decision, Judge Warkentin also ordered that the defendant, Steven Boone, be supervised for five years following his release.
This essay, by Oxford graduate student C’zar Bernstein, is one of the six shortlisted essays in the graduate category of the inaugural Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics.
Arguing About Guns
In this paper, I’ll argue, first, that people have a prima facie right to own guns. Second, that it is far more controversial than people usually suppose that gun ownership does more harm than good, given the extant criminological evidence.
Rights are trumps that are supposed to hold in the face of negative consequences. Prima facie rights are rights that admit to being outweighed by countervailing considerations. However, because rights are supposed to trump negative consequences, one cannot merely point out that there are negative consequences as a reason to suppose that the right is overridden. She must establish that the negative consequences outweigh the trump-value of the right. Thus, if there is a prima facie right to own guns, anti-gun philosophers must show (i) that gun ownership does more harm than good, and (ii) that the negative consequences are sufficient to override the right to own guns. I’ll argue that there is a lot of good evidence to doubt that (i) is true. I shan’t, however, argue that (i) is probably false, which would require a much more extensive examination of the evidence.
Why should we suppose that there is a prima facie right to own guns? Some philosophers argue that the right to own a gun is grounded in the right of self-defence. The argument goes like this. The right of self-defence entails the right to be allowed to have access to reasonable means of individual self-defence, and because firearms are a particularly effective reasonable means of self-defence, people have a prima facie right to own guns. More details will have to be filled in, but this is the basic idea.
This list of topical resources is collated and maintained by the Bioethics Research Library of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University, as part of a growing collection intended to help beginning scholars and researchers explore bioethics.
Bioethics Research Library staff have developed information resources to support persons interested in feminism and bioethics. The following links will retrieve citations from the library’s databases on selected topics. Many citations will have links to tables of contents, abstracts, or even full text. Use your web browser to save the citation lists for personal use.
Overview: “Feminist Ethics” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Information from Bioethics Research Library Databases
- Animal Rights
- Death and Dying
- Environmental Ethics
- Ethic of Care
- Genetics (from the GenETHX database)
- Health Care for Women
- International Issues
- Mental Health
- Occupational Health
- Organ and Tissue Transplantation
- Patient Relationships
- Philosophical Ethics
- Reproductive Issues
- Research on Women
- Science and Society
National Library of Medicine Databases
In the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s PubMed database, enter the following search strategy in the query box:
(feminism [mh] AND (empathy [mh] OR ethics [mh:noexp] OR ethics, professional [mh] OR ethics, medical [mh] OR bioethics))
In the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s Book Catalog database, enter the following search strategy in the query box:
(feminism [mh] AND (empathy [mh] OR ethics [mh:noexp] OR ethics, professional [mh] OR ethics, medical [mh] OR bioethics)) AND (ethics OR KIE))
Harry Critchley argues that laws and policies can contribute to the spread or reduction of HIV infections.
The International AIDS Conference has returned to Durban, South Africa for the first time in nearly two decades. When the conference was last held there in 2000, President Thabo Mbeki shocked attendees by publicly questioning the causal link between HIV and AIDS and walking out during an impassioned keynote address by a young boy born with HIV. In a recent op-ed, South Africa’s health minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, noted that the conference in 2000 marked a low point in the country’s official attitude towards HIV/AIDS—a failure on the government’s part that is estimated to have led to nearly 330,000 premature deaths between 2000 and 2005.
In the intervening years, however, South Africa has experienced a sea change in its approach to HIV, in large part because of greater synergy between government policy makers and the scientific community. The country now operates the world’s largest drug treatment initiative and has seen significant improvements in its life expectancy and newborn infection rates. South Africa is also at the forefront of new prevention, testing, and treatment programs for HIV. The country still faces steep challenges, however. It has the largest population with HIV in the world and struggles with high rates of infection amongst young women aged 15 to 24. Nonetheless, the ambitious ’90-90-90’ UNAIDS global targets for 2020—90% of persons with HIV diagnosed, 90% of those diagnosed receiving treatment, and 90% of those receiving treatment virally suppressed—appear for the first time to be within reach.
|Baby Markets: Money and the New Politics of Creating Families (Cambridge University Press 2010, 1st ed., ed. Michele Goodwin)
“We can only assess the justice of baby markets by stripping away the veneer of ‘freedom,’” said Dorothy Roberts at the Baby Markets International Congress, which met April 1-3 in Southern California. The meeting celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Baby Markets Roundtables series founded by Michele Goodwin, Chancellor’s Professor at UC Irvine Law School, author of Baby Markets (2010), and founder of the Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy.
For three days, panelists and participants engaged with assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs), reproductive justice, contractual parentage and procreation relationships, genetic testing and selection of embryos, gestational and transnational surrogacy, in vitro fertilization, abortion laws, constitutional rights to procreation and assisted reproduction, LGBT access to adoption and ARTs, selective reduction, and fertility professional negligence.
@DorothyERoberts “baby markets aren’t free” keynote address at #BabyMarkets2016 @UCILaw @UCIrvine @Penn pic.twitter.com/7K9AC45Joo
The keynote address by Dorothy Roberts, professor of law and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania and CGS advisory board member, painted a rich picture of the complex systems of oppression that backdrop free trade reproduction. Roberts highlighted the wide-ranging reproductive injustices of abortion bans, neoliberal public healthcare disinvestment in the United States, dependency courts and disruptions of families of color, and centuries of ongoing racism that make it impossible for baby markets to be “liberating” for women of color.
Roberts also reflected on the “new eugenics” that pressures parents to make “the right genetic decisions,” leading to the widespread use of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis to select against disability, and the support of a few enthusiasts to attempt next-generation genetic engineering with CRISPR-Cas9 to “edit” the traits of future children.
As part of the BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative, President Obama asked the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission) to “identify proactively a set of core ethical standards – both to guide neuroscience research and to address some of the ethical dilemmas that may be raised by the application of neuroscience research findings.” As the Bioethics Commission resumes its consideration of these ethical issues, it turned this morning to the ethical implications of cognitive enhancement specifically.
The session featured Peter Reiner, V.M.D., Ph.D., from the University of British Columbia’s National Core for Neuroethics, Kinsmen Laboratory of Neurological Research, and Brain Research Centre; Rear Admiral Peter J. Delany, Ph.D., LCSW-C, Director of the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA); Adrian Raine, Ph.D., the Richard Perry University Professor of Criminology, Psychiatry, and Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania; and Nick Bostrom, Ph.D. a professor in the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Oxford and founding Director of the Future of Humanity Institute.
Starting off the conversation with a presentation titled, “Cognitive Enhancement Past, Present and Future,” Reiner discussed the definition of cognitive enhancement. In doing so, he explained both the historic understanding and looked forward to how this definition is evolving.
“Cognitive enhancement is more complicated than it seems at first blush,” explained Reiner. “We’re already well on our way to enhancing ourselves with all sorts of drugs, devices and more.”
“I’d submit as we move forward we need to give a fair hearing to the public’s enthusiasms and fears, their utilitarian dreams and their visions for societal harmony for these are the norms to which our policies should hew,” Reiner concluded.