Tag: boxing

Bioethics Blogs

Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics: What Makes Discrimination Wrong? Written by Paul de Font-Reaulx

This essay was the winner in the Undergraduate Category of the Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics 2017

Written by University of Oxford student, Paul de Font-Reaulx

 

The question of this essay is this: What makes discrimination wrong? Most of us intuitively take discrimination based on gender or ethnicity to be impermissible because we have strong rights to be treated on the basis of merit and capacity rather than e.g. ethnicity or gender. I argue that this suggestion is indefensible. I show that well-informed discrimination can sometimes be permissible, and even morally required, meaning we cannot have absolute rights not to be discriminated against. In the last part I suggest an alternative account, arguing that acts of discrimination are wrong because they violate individuals’ weak right to be treated fairly and create negative externalities which – analogously to pollution – there is a collective responsibility to minimize. These results are counterintuitive, and require further attention.

1.     What is Discrimination?

I take discrimination to be to treat someone very differently based on an irrelevant trait. A trait is relevant if and only if it by itself provides reasons for different treatment in some instance, such as constituting a difference in merit or capacity. Otherwise it is irrelevant. For example, in the case of boxing the trait of weighing 70kg is relevant for finding opponents, while as the trait of hair colour is not. Of the two, only different treatment on the basis of the latter would constitute discrimination[1].

Discrimination based on bigotry such as racism is often indefensible simply because it rests on ungrounded beliefs about the relevance of traits such as ethnicity.

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

Projection NOT Promotion: Why the Violence of Sports is Ethical in Society

Image via

STUDENT VOICES

By Maria Trivelpiece

It is quite difficult to get through a day without hearing or seeing some mention of sports or athletics in our world. They practically dominate society. Professional athletes are some of the highest paid people on the planet. They are the epitome of what children aspire to be, fans fawn over and television networks profit from. Yet, in the midst of all the glory of these games, the evident violence that accompanies them seems to be conveniently overlooked. But is it okay to simply ignore that the most watched event on television is a game of grown men tackling each other, beating each other and then celebrating the fact that they physically harmed another human being? Is it ethical to teach our children that the most exciting moment in ice hockey is when the defensemen drop their gloves and fist fight? I am here to say that it is. The violence of sports, in technicality, is ethical because sports are not promoting violence, but rather mimicking and projecting the society that we live in.

We want to rationalize and determine if an action is ethical. Just recently we have seen Colin Kaepernick kneel during the national anthem and cannot imagine why anyone would even condemn him for expressing his freedom of speech. But then, we see the war veteran without legs who so bravely defended our country and does not have the privilege to stand for the flag he fought for and our ‘ethical’ minds question, what is right and what is wrong?

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

Projection NOT Promotion: Why the Violence of Sports is Ethical in Society

Image via

STUDENT VOICES

By Maria Trivelpiece

It is quite difficult to get through a day without hearing or seeing some mention of sports or athletics in our world. They practically dominate society. Professional athletes are some of the highest paid people on the planet. They are the epitome of what children aspire to be, fans fawn over and television networks profit from. Yet, in the midst of all the glory of these games, the evident violence that accompanies them seems to be conveniently overlooked. But is it okay to simply ignore that the most watched event on television is a game of grown men tackling each other, beating each other and then celebrating the fact that they physically harmed another human being? Is it ethical to teach our children that the most exciting moment in ice hockey is when the defensemen drop their gloves and fist fight? I am here to say that it is. The violence of sports, in technicality, is ethical because sports are not promoting violence, but rather mimicking and projecting the society that we live in.

We want to rationalize and determine if an action is ethical. Just recently we have seen Colin Kaepernick kneel during the national anthem and cannot imagine why anyone would even condemn him for expressing his freedom of speech. But then, we see the war veteran without legs who so bravely defended our country and does not have the privilege to stand for the flag he fought for and our ‘ethical’ minds question, what is right and what is wrong?

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

A New Hope for Mental Illness January 3, 2017 Both Carrie Fisher and George Michael – just l…

January 03, 2017

by Sean Philpott-Jones, Chair, Bioethics Program of Clarkson University & Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

A New Hope for Mental Illness

Every year, my husband and I throw a big New Year’s Eve party. Most of the time, we celebrate the coming of a new year with food, champagne and the company of good friends. This weekend’s party will be particularly poignant for me. I will be toasting not to the coming of 2017 but, rather, to the end of 2016.

This year has been particularly tumultuous for me, characterized by significant professional challenges and two recent hospitalizations. This year was also capped off by the passing of my mother, who recently succumbed to the very health problem that I have been struggling with for the past three months. The only positive thing to say about 2016 is that I have a new found appreciation for all that I have, and a plan to achieve better work-life balance in the coming year.

Of course, I am not the only person who has faced personal and professional challenges this year. In fact, my own struggles cannot compare to those whose lives have been irreparably changed by the war in Syria, the gun violence in Chicago, or the terror attacks in Belgium, Florida, France, Germany and elsewhere.

We’ve also lost what seems to be an extremely long list of political figures, sports legends, and celebrated entertainers in 2016, including Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro, boxing champion and political activist Muhammad Ali, and award-winning artist Prince.

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 social framing of diagnoses and empathetic listening by Aaron J. Jackson

The account that follows depicts a visit with my neurologist. The visit was one of many within a five-month period of navigating various medical spaces to get to the bottom of the illness that was ailing me. It speaks to the systemic and cultural dimensions of illness that threaten to undermine medical understandings, diagnosis and treatment, alongside personal narratives of suffering.

I need a body to live and my current one is harbouring a ghost. To medical professionals, its idiopathic guise makes it seemingly innocuous. But it’s not. How do I know? Because it’s already stripped me of valuable time with my children. Because I’m the one embodying these curious ailments. My muscles twitch. My hands ache. There’s an old guy sitting to my right in the waiting room, plaid shirt and jeans, who’s called in for his appointment. He has more bounce in his step than I do. I feel like I’m living an 80’s body swap comedy. But my body hasn’t been swapped. It’s the same white body I’ve always had. It just feels different. I’m envious of his seventy-five-year-old vitality.

Finally, Professor Mead – let’s call him that for purposes of anonymity – calls my name. The office atmosphere feels stiff and lifeless. He tells me to lie down on the bed. My shorts and t-shirt provide unencumbered access to my body’s flesh. A needle electrode is inserted into my muscles to record the electrical activity at rest. The monitor declares the electrodes findings through a series of wavy and spiky lines.

Small fasciculations are recorded in my left foot.

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

Vale Muhammed Ali

Ali defeated Sonny Liston in 1964  

The death of Muhammed Ali at the age of 74 is reminder of the uneasy ethical status of boxing. Only in boxing is the brain the target. Ali’s Parkinson’s disease was probably a result of punishing blows to the head over the course of his career. Gloves probably make the problem worse, as they increase the weight and the force of impact. Headgear may not protect boxers from rotational acceleration.

John Hardy, a neuroscientist at University College London, wrote a couple years ago: “nothing can be more killing of joy than personality changes, violence, substance abuse and dementia. I also think it is demeaning as a society for people to get pleasure out of watching others fight and that we should consign this public spectacle, as we have done public executions, to the dustbin of history.”

What do you think? Should professional boxing be banned? It seems hard to justify a sport which, in the words of Joe Frazier, who beat Ali in the brutal “fight of the century” in 1971, “boxing is the only sport you can get your brain shook, your money took and your name in the undertaker book.”

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

A Smack Upside the Head December 3, 2015 Concussions are one of the most frequent traumatic …

December 03, 2015

By Sean Philpott-Jones, Director of the Bioethics Program

Like many Americans, my in-laws have a Thanksgiving Day tradition of watching football and a Black Friday tradition of going shopping. Both of these are full contact sports, but only one of them will prove to be deadly for thousands of people.

That is because concussions — known clinically as mild traumatic brain injury (or MTBI) — are common in football. They are also common in other contact sports like soccer, hockey, boxing and martial arts.

Concussions are one of the most frequent traumatic brain injuries, occurring more than 1.5 million times a year in the United States alone. They happen when a blow to the head or body, a fall, or some other impact causes the brain to smash into the skull.

Symptoms of a concussion can range from a mild headache, blurred vision and disorientation to a loss of consciousness, convulsions and even memory loss. These symptoms usually subside within a few hours, but can last for days, weeks and even months. Unfortunately, there is no real treatment for a concussion other than physical and cognitive rest.

For most people who suffer a concussion, there are thankfully no lingering or long-term effects. But that is not the case for many athletes. Repeated concussions can result in a condition known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive neurodegenerative disease characterized by impaired speech, deafness, amnesia, depression, anger and dementia. We now know that a significant percentage of amateur and professional athletes are likely to be suffering from CTE.

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, June 2015 — Part II by Aaron Seaman

Starting off the second half of June’s journal roundup, we have some special issues. Two have been highlighted on Somatosphere: BioSocieties, “Alimentary Uncertainties: From Contested Evidence to Policy“; and Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, “Conceptualizing Autism Around the Globe“. A third, from Medical Humanities on critical medical humanities, also will be posted in the coming days.

Anthropology and Aging Quarterly (Open Access)

Tokens of trauma: The ageing experience of Shoah survivors in a Jewish support centre.
Ben Kasstan

This paper explores the traumatic memories of ageing Shoah survivors who attend a Jewish social and therapeutic support facility in London (UK). The study investigates the perceived differences in trauma within a diverse group of members who partake in the day centre. The difference in Shoah experience contextualises how survivors of ghettos and concentration camps possess a salient relationship with food, notably bread which acts as an enduring symbol of catastrophe for participants. The meanings that underlie death amongst camp survivors are evaluated, where decisions regarding the end of life stage can be interpreted as a shared experience with those who perished during the Shoah. Results exemplify how religious and cultural elements of Judaism mediate the trauma that has become thoroughly embodied for participants. survival is steeped in intersubjective acts of remembrance, offering a novel contribution to the anthropological study of genocide.

Slowing Down Medicine: The Plural Worlds of Hospice Care
Lilly Lerer

This ethnography reflects on a non-profit hospice care organization in the Midwestern US where caregivers “slow down” medical care by acknowledging the plurality of forces that constitute the illness experience, philosophically departing from their biomedical, non-hospice counterparts.

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

Guest Post: Prostitution, harm, and disability: Should only people with disabilities be allowed to pay for sex?

* Note that this entry is being cross-posted at the Journal of Medical Ethics blog.

By Brian D. Earp

Introduction

Is prostitution harmful? And if it is harmful, should it be illegal to buy (or sell) sexual services? And if so, should there ever be any exceptions? What about for people with certain disabilities—say—who might find it difficult or even impossible to find a sexual partner if they weren’t allowed to exchange money for sex? Do people have a “right” to sexual fulfillment?

In a recent issue of the Journal of Medical Ethics, Frej Klem Thomsen[1] explores these and other controversial questions. His focus is on the issue of exceptions—specifically for those with certain disabilities. According to Thomsen, a person is “relevantly disabled” (for the sake of this discussion) if and only if:

(1) she has sexual needs, and desires to exercise her sexuality, and

(2) she has an anomalous physical or mental condition that, given her social circumstances, sufficiently limits her possibilities of exercising her sexuality, including fulfilling her sexual needs. (p. 455)

There is a lot to say here. First, in order to figure out the merits of making an exception to a general ban on prostitution (for people with disabilities or for anyone else), we have to start by deciding what to think about the advisability of such a ban in the first place. For, if we don’t think it’s a good idea to begin with (spoiler alert: this is my own view), then we can skip all the talk about making exemptions, and just argue against the ban.

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

Prostitution, Harm, and Disability: Should Only People with Disabilities be Allowed to Pay for Sex?

By Brian D. Earp

Introduction

Is prostitution harmful? And if it is harmful, should it be illegal to buy (or sell) sexual services? And if so, should there ever be any exceptions? What about for people with certain disabilities—say—who might find it difficult or even impossible to find a sexual partner if they weren’t allowed to exchange money for sex? Do people have a “right” to sexual fulfillment?

In a recent issue of the Journal of Medical Ethics, Frej Klem Thomsen[1] explores these and other controversial questions. His focus is on the issue of exceptions—specifically for those with certain disabilities. According to Thomsen, a person is “relevantly disabled” (for the sake of this discussion) if and only if:

(1) she has sexual needs, and desires to exercise her sexuality, and

(2) she has an anomalous physical or mental condition that, given her social circumstances, sufficiently limits her possibilities of exercising her sexuality, including fulfilling her sexual needs. (p. 455)

There is a lot to say here. First, in order to figure out the merits of making an exception to a general ban on prostitution (for people with disabilities or for anyone else), we have to start by deciding what to think about the advisability of such a ban in the first place. For, if we don’t think it’s a good idea to begin with (spoiler alert: this is my own view), then we can skip all the talk about making exemptions, and just argue against the ban.

But Thomsen doesn’t pursue that route.

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.