Tag: casuistry

Bioethics Blogs

LA LA LAND and BIOETHICS: Aspiration, Casuistry and Musical Mimetics

La La Land Opening Night Mill Valley Film Festival 2016
Mark Fiskin(CFI/MVFF), Damien Chazelle (director), 
Justin Hurwitz (composer), Emma Stone (actor) 
The opening and closing films of the 39th Mill Valley Film Festival were both romances, different from one another as night and day. The starting film was about elusive love. Written and directed by Damien Chazelle, LA LA LAND is a romantic musical whose comedic elements facilitate the dramatic. It feels like a cross between Preston Sturges’ Sullivan’s Travels and Singing in the Rain. LA LA LAND’s enduring impression is a sensibility for people defined by creative aspirations.

The title, LA LA LAND, is a double entendre. The more concrete allusion calls up the musical note ‘La,’ as in the Rogers and Hammerstein’s Sound of Music, “La is just to follow so.” What marks the feature as a high concept film is the other meaning— the rarely attainable, though ubiquitous, high hopes for creative success in the unreal Los Angeles — while moving into the developmental stage of adult intimacy.

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone act (and dance) in subtle ways. Their performances are beyond being the coat hangers for music, choreography, and the exquisite mostly on location scenery. Complexity of the main characters is clarified by the arrival of the co-star, John Legend, at the mid-point of the film. He draws the arrow telling Gosling’s character, a musician, that there is only one path to follow. That way pushes him away from his lover, Stone, a writer.


The opening scene of La La Land is set squarely in one of the plagues of Los Angeles life.

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 ASSASSIN AND BIOETHICS: Death and Destruction vs. Peonies and Silk

The Assassin was one of  the three opening night films at the 2015 Mill Valley Film Festival. Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao Hsien is no stranger to the Cannes festival awards. This film won him the Cannes 2015 Best Director. Attraction to the screen narratives of ‘assassins’ raises clear bioethical concern during pervasive aggression at home and abroad. The Assassin differs from others in its genre. It does not titillate with the brutality of cold blooded murder. Instead, The Assassin may demonstrate a filmic antidote for the desensitization of screen violence.

The original assassins are thought, by some, to have been mercenaries, in Persia, from the sect of Shia Islam, in the period between the 9th and 10th century. This sect worked against the Sunni Islam who controlled that empire. Assassins were tools of barons who held no independent army.

Though set in the Chinese context, and created by a man, The Assassin has a profoundly feminist sensibility. The assassin of this film’s interest is a woman born in a ninth century imperial court. It is a profoundly feminist approach to story telling. Her mother rejects imperial control and escapes, knowing the action will likely cost her life and that of her daughter. Before her death, the fleeing mother arranges her daughter’s care by an aunt and uncle. The imperial powers eventually wish to conquer the geographical region where the child has been fostered, again risking her death. For the child’s protection her surrogate parents place her in the care of a ‘nun.’ The Nun’s machinations train the child as an assassin.

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

Spinal cord regeneration – a step forward

Spinal cord regeneration. There is a casuistry in each patient who suffers a spinal cord injury, because a combined therapy that is successful in one patient is not transferrable to the rest.

This week, both the national and international press have reported on an article in medical journal Cell Transplantation (CT-1239 Cell Transplantation Early Epub), which published the outcome of a clinical trial where it was shown that a 38-year-old Bulgarian man whose spinal cord was severed after being stabbed in the back could now walk again with the aid of a walker only.

While this is undoubtedly encouraging news, we must be cautious in its regarding.

Spinal cord injury is a condition that very dramatically disrupts not only the life of the person, whether suffered congenitally or suddenly, but that of his or her family and friends who witness firsthand the difficulties experienced by the person not only in the physical environment, but also psychological and even social difficulties. For this reason, any news related with spinal cord injury always generates great social impact that can lead us to prematurely think that “it’s cured at last”.

We must be cautious and investigate a little further. When a spinal injury occurs, it causes an interruption in the communication pathway between the muscles and the brain, so that the information sent by the brain to produce a movement is interrupted as if it were an electrical connection. This particular case reported the results of a treatment applied to a single patient, combining transplant of nerve tissue from the ankle with cells from the olfactory ensheathing glia.

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

Just Published Hastings Center Report Highlights “Teaching Bioethics”

(This post also appears on Bioethics Forum.)

The topic “teaching bioethics” is highlighted and explored in the newly published issue of the Hastings Center Report, which contains a set of essays developed collaboratively by the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues and The Hastings Center. The set’s introductory essay acknowledges that basic bioethics literacy and training lag. But what are the best educational practices to prepare our scientists, health care providers – even those of us who are not in science or healthcare – who will most assuredly wrestle with bioethical issues at some point in our careers or our family lives?

The Bioethics Commission has made several recommendations since 2010 to improve bioethics education in the science and health professions, and The Hastings Center has also made bioethics education one of its strategic priorities. The collection of papers in the Sept.-Oct. issue of the Report and to be published across several future issues highlights the current status of best practices in bioethics education, describes the gaps that exist, and suggests approaches to fill them. Mildred Solomon, EdD, president and CEO of The Hastings Center, and Lisa M. Lee, PhD, MS, executive director of the Bioethics Commission, served as guest editors for the issue.

Last fall, the Bioethics Commission and the Center invited papers on several broad topics including: assessing the state of bioethics education (What work has been done? How do we evaluate it? What are potential measures? What is the research agenda?); incorporating professional, clinical, research, and public health ethics education into medical and STEM education at secondary, undergraduate, and graduate levels; methods for bioethics instruction (casuistry, decision-making frameworks, pedagogical innovations, interpreting the role of history); and best practices in bioethics education.

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.