Tag: benevolence

Bioethics Blogs

Teaching Disability Studies in the Era of Trump by Pamela Block

In spring semester of 2017 we (Pam Block and Michele Friedner) co-taught the graduate course “Conceptual Foundations of Disability Studies.” Though the readings were the same as in previous iterations of the course, the emphasis and tone of the class shifted, not just because of the co-teaching but because we were now teaching in a context in which the rights and lives of disabled people are at increased risk. This essay will focus on one class session devoted to a discussion of how disability studies and eugenics are strikingly intertwined in some ways, and why it is salient and important to think about eugenics in the present moment, especially in relation to the current United States presidency.

Eugenics opens up a way to talk about immigration; traits and qualities of and in people; desirability; deservedness; “good” and “bad” science; and the making of facts. Eugenics comes to mind when we think of silencing and containing nasty women and ejecting bad hombres. While we are not arguing that Trump himself advocates eugenics, we argue that a study of the history of eugenics offers an entry point to considering the emergence of past and present norms and normals, especially in relation to perspectives on bodily variation. We also think that a discussion of eugenics affords different ways of conceptualizing what disability studies scholars Snyder and Mitchell (2010) call “able-nationalism,” (riffing off of Puar’s (2007) work on homonationalism). That is, a discussion of eugenics allows for consideration of how disability—and the values attached to it– is mobilized in different time periods, in the service to the nation.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

The Campaign Trail as a Carnival of Virtues

by Andreas Kappes

@AnKappes

Imagine you are asked to evaluate candidates who apply for a job. The person who gets the job will interact with you a lot. What would be more important to you, that the person is friendly, honest, and overall a good person or that the person is competent, educated, and good at what they are doing?

Or imagine your adult child is bringing home a new partner, would you rather have that person to be honest and trustworthy or have a great job and a great salary?

Now, consider the next prime minster of Britain. Do you want to give the job to a person that has good intentions toward you and people you like, or do you want somebody who is fantastically efficient in implementing their policies?

Ideally, you want each of the people mentioned so far to have both but that is not how life often works. If you have to choose, then, what do you feel is the lesser evil (or the greater good)?

If you are like most people, the choice is easy: you strongly prefer a person that is benevolent toward you and yours over a person who lacks such compassion but is highly competent. And this is also true when we evaluate political candidates. Sure, both morality and competence are important, but morality dominates the picture. Morality here refers to whether you perceive the political candidate to be partial towards the well-being of you and others you care about. Just imagine how devastating it would be to have an evil, yet brilliant leader, and you will happily live with a nice, yet dull mind at the helm.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Cross Post: Our political beliefs predict how we feel about climate change

Written by Prof Neil Levy

Originally published on The Conversation

The man who called global warming a fabrication invented by the Chinese to make US manufacturing less competitive is now president-elect of the US. His followers expect him to withdraw the US from the Paris climate change agreement and eliminate the environmental regulations introduced by his predecessor.

But recently, Donald Trump has shown a few signs that he might be open to being convinced that climate change is a real problem requiring action. In discussion with journalists at the New York Times, he expressed the view that there is “some connectivity” between human activity and climate change, adding that he’s keeping an open mind about it.

Will his commitments on climate change go the way of his vow to prosecute Hillary Clinton? I doubt it. I suspect that in the end, the words of his close advisers will be more persuasive than those of climate scientists. He will retain only a figleaf of regulation, at best.

Trump often boasts of his intelligence. Many people might take his scepticism about climate change as evidence against his inflated sense of his own abilities. I don’t think it is. I have no high opinion of Trump’s intelligence, but scepticism about climate change is not the result of a lack of mental capacity or of rationality. The minds of sceptics are not working any less well than those who accept the consensus. They are more victims of bad luck than of bad thinking.

Left-right divide

In fact, there is little relationship between intelligence and knowledge and beliefs on climate change (or other hot button issues, such as evolution).

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

In the Journals May 2016 Part I by Melanie Boeckmann

Following Anna’s post on current special issues, here are abstracts from this month’s journal outputs.

American Ethnologist

Skill and masculinity in Olympic weightlifting: Training cues and cultivated craziness in Georgia

Perry Sherouse

At the Georgian Weightlifting Federation in Tbilisi, Georgia, a mainstay of coaching is the training cue, a shouted word or phrase that coaches use to prompt weightlifters to perform in a certain psychological, physical, or technical way. In this practice, coaches cultivate and naturalize dimensions of physiology and psychology, aligning masculinity with animality, lack of restraint, and emotional surfeit, and femininity with gracefulness, control, and good technique. Although Olympic weightlifting remains stereotypically hypermasculine, coaches compliment female weightlifters’ technique as superior to men’s and train their athletes to integrate masculine “nature” and feminine “culture” in the expression of physical strength. In doing so, coaches do not instill fully formed subjectivities but manage embodied forms, using exclamatory cues to disaggregate the athlete into action, affect, and anatomy. 

“I am a radioactive mutant”: Emergent biological subjectivities at Kazakhstan’s Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site

Magdalena E. Stawskowski

The Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site in Kazakhstan was conceived as an experimental landscape where science, technology, Soviet Cold War militarism, and human biology intersected. As of 2015, thousands of people continue to live in rural communities in the immediate vicinity of this polluted landscape. Lacking good economic options, many of them claim to be “mutants” adapted to radiation, while outsiders see them as genetically tainted. In such a setting, how do post-Soviet social, political, and economic transformations operate with radioactivity to co-constitute a “mutant” subjectivity?

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Disability as Diversity: A New Biopolitics by Michele Friedner

We’re a medical anthropologist and a literary critic, and while our research interests seemingly have little overlap, we found ourselves engaged in a series of conversations about how the language of diversity shapes representations of disability and reproductive politics, and how this representation stems from the biopolitical management of life in the twenty-first century. In the short essay that follows, we’ll reflect on the ways that diversity discourses have become an organizing concept for some disability and deaf scholars and activists. We’ll show how in conversations about prenatal testing for disability, in political claims made about the value of deafness and disability in international arenas, and in popular media representations of deafness and disability, deafness and disability are often (re)presented as forms of diversity. In particular, we’re interested in the ways that a focus on disability or deafness as diversity works to erase difference, or to present difference as easily surmountable through a rhetoric that erases the actual difficult work of what Wendy Brown has called, “making a world with others.”[1]

Sociologists and critical race and feminist theorists, among others, have long critiqued diversity as a tool in neoliberal political economies that works to promote the status quo through “feel good” politics (see, for example, Ahmed 2012; Brown 1995; Faist 2009; Vertovec 2012); we’d like to extend this critique to look at how appeals to diversity are employed in disability discourses. We believe that this move from disability to diversity functions as a form of biopolitics because it works simultaneously to enable and obscure the means by which the state manages life in an increasingly neoliberal world.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Fordham Panel to Address Questions about Human Rights in Age of Fear, Violence and Scarce Resources 

By: Michael Aprea       

Few realities have shaken the foundation of human rights and the inherent liberties viewed common to all as profoundly as fear. Human rights, the set of rights believed to be intrinsic to the human person, are the cornerstone of modern society. They are the very building blocks of our nation and of the free world.

On April 5th, the Fordham Center for Religion and Culture and the Fordham Center for Ethics Education will hold an interdisciplinary forum to address questions about the endurance of human rights in the wake of society’s struggle to maintain both justice and compassion in world torn by violence, injustice, hatred and limited resources. This symposium, titled “In Good Conscience: Human Rights in an age of Terrorism, Violence, and Limited Resources,” will feature distinguished speakers:

Ivan Šimonović: Assistant Secretary-General, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Consolee Nishimwe: Rwandan genocide survivor and author of Tested to the Limit: A Genocide Survivor’s Story of Pain, Resilience, and Hope.

Celia B. Fisher, PhD: Marie Ward Doty University Endowed Chair and Professor of Psychology, Director Center for Ethics Education, Fordham University

Matthew C. Waxman: Liviu Librescu Professor of Law; Faculty Chair, Roger Hertog Program on Law and National Security, Columbia University

Andrea Bartoli, PhD: Dean of the School of Diplomacy and International Relations at Seton Hall University

The panel will address questions at the core of human rights. Historically, through an undertone of fear, rhetoric has been a call to see the other not as human with needs and rights common to self; rather fear has been manipulated to shape the other into a threat to one’s own needs and rights.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

Unlicensed British Sperm Donor Fathers 800 Children

By Princess Chukwuneke
In a time where egg and sperm donations face rigorous screening, Simon Watson, 41, appears to have found a way around it.
Watson has been an unlicensed sperm donor for 16 years, claiming dual benevolence for his actions. On one hand, he hopes to save prospective mothers from paying exorbitant treatment prices at licensed fertility clinics, which could go up to £1000 per treatment cycle. He charges only £50. …

The post Unlicensed British Sperm Donor Fathers 800 Children appeared first on Global Bioethics Initiative.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

Sperm Donor Claims to Have fathered 800 Children

By Princess Chukwuneke
In a time where egg and sperm donations face rigorous screening, Simon Watson, 41, appears to have found a way around it.
Watson has been an unlicensed sperm donor for 16 years, claiming dual benevolence for his actions. On one hand, he hopes to save prospective mothers from paying exorbitant treatment prices at licensed fertility clinics, which could go up to £1000 per treatment cycle. He charges only £50. …

The post Sperm Donor Claims to Have fathered 800 Children appeared first on Global Bioethics Initiative.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

The Humane and the Ethical in Animal Research

A recent article by Marc Bekoff, written for the website The Dodo, asks whether it might be true that researchers who currently test on animals are less humane than their predecessors. Bekoff thinks it is. His reasons for that belief seem to be something like the following: We know considerably more about the cognitive and emotional faculties of animals now than we did in the past. That is, we know that even smaller mammals and birds can be quite cognitively sophisticated and emotionally developed. In the face of this knowledge, our continued use of those animals for the purpose of conducting research is less humane than it was at a time when we believed animals to not possess any such faculties. Bekoff uses this belief to cast doubt on the ethical status of continued research on animals. If we are being less humane in our research now than we used to be, then we are also being less ethical. It’s not clear to me that this inference is correct.

 Here are two definitions of ‘humane’:

 Humane |hjʊˈmeɪn|

adjective

1 Characterized by such behaviour or disposition towards others as benefits man; civil, courteous, obliging -1784; kind, benevolent -1603. b. Applied to certain implements, etc. which inflict less pain than others of the same kind- 1904…

– Shorter OED, 1947

1. Having or showing compassion or benevolence: regulations ensuring the humane treatment of animals.

• inflicting the minimum of pain: humane methods of killing.

– New Oxford American Dictionary

Both of these definitions (but the first especially) seem to offer two conditions that are individually necessary and jointly sufficient for an action’s being humane: a minimal harm condition, and a compassion condition.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.