Tag: dehumanization

Bioethics Blogs

Refugees, Narratives, or How To Do Bad Things with Words

By Anna Gotlib

ABSTRACT. This paper addresses and critiques the anti-refugee rhetoric and policies, as well as their uncritical uptake, which developed around the candidacy of Donald Trump. My intent is to examine some of this election’s cruelest, most violent, and most racist rhetoric, reserved for Syrian (and other) refugees, and to consider some possible responses to such speech in the future. To that end, I problematize the representations and treatment of refugees within the United States from three distinct groups: European Jewish refugees of the Second World War; the Eastern Bloc refugees of the mid- and late twentieth century; and the current Syrian, largely Muslim refugees. I begin by defining the concepts of homelessness and moral luck. Second, I examine the three varying histories of refugee policies in the context of these two notions. Finally, I conclude with a combination of despair and hope: First, I offer a few observations about the role of language in the recent presidential election; second, I propose alternatives to the resulting linguistic and political violence by extending Hilde Lindemann’s notion of “holding” into sociopolitical contexts.

“How odd I can have all this inside me and to you it’s just words.”
― David Foster Wallace, The Pale King

I.  Introduction

The American election of 2016 was, in its vitriol, polarization, and outcome, unlike any in recent memory. This paper addresses and critiques the anti-refugee rhetoric and policies, as well as their uncritical uptake, which developed around the candidacy of Donald Trump. My intent is to examine and confront the fact that some of this election cycle’s cruelest, most violent, and most racist rhetoric was reserved for Syrian (and other) refugees, and to consider some possible responses to such speech in the future.

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

Mari Mikkola, The Wrongs of Injustice: Dehumanization and its Role in Feminist Philosophy, Oxford University Press, 2016

Mari Mikkola identifies three primary forms of social injustice—oppression, domination, and discrimination—and asks what makes them wrong. She argues that feminist philosophy has thus far focused heavily on gender as a lens or anchor through which to understand and respond to injustice. In Mikkola’s view, this orientation around gender (and what she terms “the gender controversy”) is limiting feminist philosophers’ theoretical engagement with the roots of injustice. To remedy this problem, she builds a case for moving toward a more broadly humanist conception of injustice. The humanist feminism that she puts forth centers dehumanization as a way to theorize injustice; dehumanization, for Mikkola, is the very foundation of injustice.

Following an introductory chapter that frames Mikkola’s approach and argument, the book is divided into two parts. The first part of the book is dedicated to articulating Mikkola’s argument for moving beyond the “gender controversy” in feminist philosophy. She explains that the perspectives debated in the gender controversy produce two kinds of puzzles: one semantic, the other ontological. The semantic puzzle asks: “Given that ordinary language users tend not to distinguish sex and gender (treating ‘woman’ largely as a sex term, or a mixture of social and biological features), what precisely are feminists talking about when they talk about ‘women’? What are the necessary and sufficient conditions that the concept woman encodes, if any such conditions exist to begin with?” (28). The ontological puzzle, by contrast, is concerned with: “How should we understand the category of women that is meant to undergird feminist political solidarity, if there are no necessary and sufficient conceptual conditions underlying our gender talk?

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–March 2017, Part I by Julia Kowalski

Here is Part I of our March article round-up.

American Anthropologist

A Dog’s Life: Suffering Humanitarianism in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Greg Beckett

In the Bel Air neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, most residents are dependent on humanitarian and foreign assistance for food, services, aid, and jobs. Yet, some residents feel that the conditions under which such aid is provided actively blocks their ability to live a life they find meaningful. In this article, I explore how some Haitians theorize this humanitarian condition through the figure of the dog, an animal that exemplifies, for Haitians, the deep history of violence, dehumanization, and degradation associated with foreign rule. I then contrast this with how foreign aid workers invoke the figure of the dog to illustrate their compassionate care for suffering others. Drawing on research among Bel Air residents and foreign aid workers in the years after a devastating earthquake destroyed much of Port-au-Prince, I show how the figure of the dog is central both to Haitian critiques of humanitarian aid and to the international humanitarian imaginary that responds to forms of suffering it deems cruel.

Biosocieties

“Let’s pull these technologies out of the ivory tower”: The politics, ethos, and ironies of participant-driven genomic research

Michelle L. McGowan, Suparna Choudhury, Eric T. Juengst, Marcie Lambrix, Richard A. Settersten Jr., Jennifer R. Fishman

This paper investigates how groups of ‘citizen scientists’ in non-traditional settings and primarily online networks claim to be challenging conventional genomic research processes and norms. Although these groups are highly diverse, they all distinguish their efforts from traditional university- or industry-based genomic research as being ‘participant-driven’ in one way or another.

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

Handbook of the Philosophy of Medicine

Now available – Handbook of the Philosophy of Medicine – 68 chapters spanning over 1000 pages.


This is the first wide-ranging, multi-authored handbook in the field of philosophy of medicine, covering the underlying conceptual issues of many important social, political and ethical issues in health care. It introduces and develops over 70 topics, concepts, and issues in the field. It is written by distinguished specialists from multiple disciplines, including philosophy, health sciences, nursing, sociology, political theory, and medicine. 


Many difficult social and ethical issues in health care are based on conceptual problems, most prominently on the definitions of health and disease, or on epistemological issues regarding causality or diagnosis. Philosophy is the discipline that deals with such conceptual, metaphysical, epistemological, methodological, and axiological matters. 


This handbook covers all the central concepts in medicine, such as ageing, death, disease, mental disorder, and well-being. It is an invaluable source for laypeople, academics with an interest in medicine, and health care specialists who want be informed and up to date with the relevant discussions. The text also advances these debates and will set the agenda for years to come.


Philosophy of Medicine and Bioethics
Schramme, Thomas

Normality as Convention and as Scientific Fact
Chadwick, Ruth

On Concepts of Positive Health
Nordenfelt, Lennart

Disease as Scientific and as Value-Laden Concept
Kingma, Elselijn

Mental Disorders as Genuine Medical Conditions
Wakefield, Jerome C.

Curing and Healing: Two Goals of Medicine
Szawarska, Dorota

Illness and Its Experience: The Patient Perspective
Carel, Havi

Nursing as Caring
Sellman, Derek

Goals of Medicine
Schramme, Thomas

Suffering: Harm to Bodies, Minds, and Persons
Hofmann, Bjørn

Disability as Medical and as Social Category
Edwards, Steven

Subjective and Objective Accounts of Well-Being and Quality of Life
Schramme, Thomas

Pain as a Subjective and Objective Phenomenon
Dekkers, Wim

Death as Biological Category
Holland, Stephen

Suicide
Edwards, Steven

Enhancing Human Abilities and Characteristics Beyond Normality
Bloodworth, Andrew

How Can Aging Be Thought of as Anything Other Than a Disease?

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

Debate forum: BDS and the American Anthropological Association by Editorial Collaborative

Starting April 15, members of the American Anthropological Association will be able to vote on a resolution which proposes a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. In this “debate forum,” we present two pieces, one arguing for the boycott, one against, both written by and addressed to medical anthropologists. We encourage readers to join the debate or air their views in the comments sections of either piece, or this introduction.

 

Acknowledging the Palestinian Public Health Crisis: Why Signing onto the Academic Boycott Makes Sense for Medical Anthropologists

Sherine Hamdy, Shirley Lindenbaum, Julie Livingston, Margaret Lock, Eileen Moyer, Vinh-Kim Nguyen, Elizabeth Roberts, Michael Montoya, Kristin Peterson, Miriam Ticktin

 

Israeli Writers and Anthropologists on Health and Trauma: A Critical Lens on Dehumanization and Healing

Michele Rivkin-Fish

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 FIRST-rate Oversight, and Other Problems with Studies of Medical Residents’ Work Hours

The rigors of medical and surgical training require long hours dedicated to providing clinical care. While long hours are necessary to obtain the experience to eventually practice independently, performing too many hours of continuous duty promotes fatigue, which can result in medical errors, adverse patient outcomes, and risks of personal harm for trainees.

Given these concerns, in 2003 the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), the private accrediting organization that oversees American graduate medical education programs, imposed limits for the first time on resident physician work hours. One key requirement was that resident physicians’ work shifts be limited to no more than 30 hours of continuous patient care duty. However, many patient safety advocates argued that the 2003 ACGME requirements fell short in preventing fatigue-related harms to both resident physicians and their patients.

In 2008, at the request of Congress, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published a report outlining the increased risks of work shifts up to 30 hours in duration for trainees–including increased risks of motor vehicle accidents, exposure to blood-borne pathogens (for example, from needle sticks), and depression—and the risks to their patients as a result of medical errors. The IOM report recommended that trainee work shifts, regardless of level of training, be limited to no more than 16 consecutive hours of patient care duty, after which a protected sleep period of at least five hours was recommended. As a result, in 2011 the ACGME imposed additional restrictions to limit trainee duty hours. According to the current requirements, first-year trainees are limited to performing no more than 16 continuous duty hours; upper level residents are limited to 28-hour shifts, during which “strategic napping” is encouraged.

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

Is There A Happily Ever After For Medical Humanities & Bioethics?

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

I attended my very first academic conference in 1997, which happened to be the Combined Meeting of the Society for Health and Human Values, American Association of Bioethics, and Society of Bioethics Consultants. I was also in Houston the next year at the very first meeting of the American Society of Bioethics & Humanities. Bioethics and Medical Humanities had married and that was their reception.

This has not been an easy marriage. Some medical humanities scholars have expressed feelings of being slighted, minimized in programs, and not always having a seat at the table. A few in bioethics have expressed concerns that the humanities scholars do not want to play with others and have their own agenda. In this marriage, the couple sleeps in separate bedrooms.

As someone with a doctorate in medical humanities and who was trained in medical anthropology (narrative phenomenology) and bioethics, I never understood why the parents seemed to bicker. From my perspective both clearly had contributions to make to the other. I have published in both bioethics and medical humanities journals as well as have presented at meetings of both. I use films, stories, and writing in my bioethics courses; and discuss issues of ethics and professionalism in my medical humanities class.

In the last few years, some in medical humanities have been in an open marriage, having their own meetings (Health Humanities conference) and linking with other like-minded organizations (MLA). Still, I did not understand why our parents fought. Was it merely a question who got top billing?

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

Integration without reduction: What the philosophy of empathy can learn from mirror neurons

by Georgina Campelia

Georgina Campelia is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in Philosophy at the Graduate Center, CUNY, working under the supervision of Virginia Held. Her dissertation, “Virtue’s Web: The Virtue of Empathic Attunement and the Need for a Relational Foundation,” develops an account of empathic attunement, defends its status as a virtue, and sketches a relational ontology of virtue that would better accommodate the relationality of this and other important virtues.
Georgina is currently an affiliate instructor at the Montefiore Einstein Center for Bioethics, where she teaches in their Certificate and Masters Programs. She also serves on the Steering Committee at the New York Society for Women and Philosophy (NYSWIP) and is a co-organizer of SWIPshop (a workshop for feminist philosophy).
As the lack of empathy in the world has become particularly apparent and troubling in light of the resistance to offering asylum for Muslim refugees (see this recent article from The Guardian), perhaps it makes sense that the study of empathy is booming (Coplan, 2014; Decety, 2012; de Waal, 2009). Philosophers question and defend its moral worth (Bloom, 2014), psychologists and primatologists consider its nature and origin (Hoffman, 2000; Waal, 2012), and neuroscientists explore its metaphysical structure (Singer, 2009; Zaki & Ochsner, 2012). Empathy offers a distinctive ground for interdisciplinary work and, yet, little has been done to advance cross-field communication. While some popular work offers broadly incorporated perspectives (de Waal, 2009), and there are some anthologies that include multiple disciplines (Coplan & Goldie, 2014; Decety, 2012), there is room for more robustly integrated research.

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

Forgotten Stories of the Eugenic Age #4, Part 3: The Blurry Boundaries of Eugenic Infanticide

The Black Stork movie poster, 1917. Source: The Disability History Museum (with permission).

[Forgotten Stories of the Eugenic Age is a blog series exploring the lesser-known ways that eugenics affected and engaged American lives during the first half of the twentieth century.]

[Parts 1 and 2 tell the story of Dr. Harry Haiselden’s refusal of life-saving surgery for a baby with disabilities, whom he believed would be a burden on society, and the ensuing controversy.]

While public debate about the Baby Bollinger case subsided, Harry Haiselden continued to work as a physician. He diversified his eugenic medical practices to include sterilizations, and claimed to have personally sterilized nearly 400 patients in Chicago by late 1915.

In addition to sterilizations, Haiselden was called to consult on cases throughout the country to decide whether “defective” infants should receive operations or be allowed to die. Sometimes Haiselden decreed that a baby’s health issues could be corrected satisfactorily through surgery, especially if the baby appeared to be of “bright” intellect. At other times, as Haiselden told news reporters, if he found a child to be a “hopeless idiot,” he would “unhesitatingly advise that it be permitted to die.”

In July 1917, Haiselden once again approached newspapers, this time to report his recommendation that another three children be permitted to die. He explained that Baby Meter, who had already died at one day old by the time stories went to print, had been missing part of her upper skull case and had what appeared to be a small, malformed brain.

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

Sport hatred redux: Hating arch-rivals

I am a Tottenham fan. (I accept your condolences.) One duty of a Tottenham fan is to hate Arsenal. And I am nothing if not a dutiful lad. Is such hatred justified?

 

I wrote about this some time ago on this blog. I suggested that sport-hatred was sometimes justified, and that it was when the reasons for sport-hatred mirrored reasons that justify strong emotions such as hatred in non-sports contexts. Here is what I said about hatred for arch-rivals.

 

. . . we often come to sport-hate arch-rivals. This might seem to be motivated by biases, and thus obviously unjustified. But maybe not. Conflicts between rivals resemble certain kinds of very rare moral conflicts, between good and evil. I say such moral conflicts are rare because it seems to me that transporting the good vs. evil dynamic outside of sports is usually ill-advised (the world is not so clear-cut). But sport, as many have argued, does seem to provide a training ground of sorts – one in which we can identify with one side in a contest, and thereby experience all sorts of emotions and attitudes (including sport-hatred) directed to the other side. Sometimes there exist moralized conflicts in life in which hatred of the opposing side is morally justified, and in which hatred plausibly motivates morally praiseworthy actions (exhibitions of courage, for example). If the reasons for sport-hating another team (because they are your team’s arch-rival, for example) legitimately mirror these conflicts, I would say that sport-hatred of the arch-rival is thereby justified.

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.