Tag: homicide

Bioethics Blogs

Fake News and Partisan Epistemology

by Regina Rini

ABSTRACT. This paper does four things: (1) It provides an analysis of the concept ‘fake news.’ (2) It identifies distinctive epistemic features of social media testimony. (3) It argues that partisanship-in-testimony-reception is not always epistemically vicious; in fact some forms of partisanship are consistent with individual epistemic virtue. (4) It argues that a solution to the problem of fake news will require changes to institutions, such as social media platforms, not just to individual epistemic practices.

Did you know that Hillary Clinton sold weapons to ISIS? Or that Mike Pence called Michelle Obama “the most vulgar First Lady we’ve ever had”? No, you didn’t know these things. You couldn’t know them, because these claims are false.[1] But many American voters believed them.

One of the most distinctive features of the 2016 campaign was the rise of “fake news,” factually false claims circulated on social media, usually via channels of partisan camaraderie. Media analysts and social scientists are still debating what role fake news played in Trump’s victory.[2] But whether or not it drove the outcome, fake news certainly affected the choices of some individual voters.

Why were people willing to believe easily dis-confirmable, often ridiculous, stories? In this paper I will suggest the following answer: people believe fake news because they acquire it through social media sharing, which is a peculiar sort of testimony. Social media sharing has features that reduce audience willingness to think critically or check facts. This effect is amplified when the testifier and audience share a partisan orientation.

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

New Zealand river declared a legal person

In the latest wrinkle in debates over personhood, a Māori iwi (tribe) in New Zealand has succeeded in getting Parliament to recognise the Whanganui River as a legal person.

“It’s not that we’ve changed our worldview, but people are catching up to seeing things the way that we see them,” Adrian Rurawhe, a Māori member of Parliament. The North Island river, New Zealand’s third longest, also known by its Māori name of Te Awa Tupua, will be represented by two legal guardians, one appointed by the iwi and the other by the government.

The settlement, which has been in dispute for at least 140 years, also includes NZ$80 million in financial redress and $30 million toward improving the environmental, social, cultural and economic health and wellbeing of Te Awa Tupua. 

Riverine personhood is an untested concept in a Western legal system. According to the government, Te Awa Tupua will now have its own legal personality with all the corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a legal person. Lawyers say that the river cannot vote and cannot be charged with homicide if people drown in it. But it will have to pay taxes, if liable. The gender of the river is unspecified at the moment.

“I know the initial inclination of some people will say it’s pretty strange to give a natural resource a legal personality,” said New Zealand’s Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson. “But it’s no stranger than family trusts, or companies or incorporated societies.”

As soon as the third reading of the bill passed, members of the gallery broke into a waiata (a song of celebration) which is well worth watching. 

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

Montana came SO close to closing the door to assisted suicide

The status of assisted suicide in the US state of Montana is curiously ambiguous. In 2009 the Montana Supreme Court ruled that “a terminally ill patient’s consent to physician aid in dying constitutes a statutory defense to a charge of homicide against the aiding physician”. This effectively permitted assisted suicide – without input from the Montana legislature.

Ever since then, opponents and supporters of assisted suicide have tried almost every year to introduce bills to regulate or to ban assisted suicide. None of them have succeeded.

The latest bill to ban assisted suicide almost succeeded but failed at the very last minute in a classic case of legislative comedy.

The bill, which declared that a patient’s consent would not be a defense for a doctor who assisted someone in ending their life, passed a second reading on a 52-48 vote on Tuesday. But on the third reading on Wednesday, four legislators changed their votes and the result was tied 50-50. Hence the bill was defeated.

What explained the change?

Two lawmakers changed their vote to support assisted suicide, making Wednesday’s vote 50-50. Then one decided not to support it, making it 51-49, and another, Peggy Webb, a Republican who opposes assisted suicide, made a mistake and voted for it, making it 50-50.

Such is life.

“It was a mistake,” said Ms Webb. “I hit yes and then thought, ‘No, I don’t want assisted suicide,’ and changed the vote. It was too late to change it back.”

She said that she remained opposed. “I think life is sacred from birth to death and I think it should be a natural death.

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

Dangerous Love and Anti-Love Drugs: Neuroethics & Public Health Problems

By Kelsey Drewry
Kelsey Drewry is a student in the Master of Arts in Bioethics program at the Emory University Center for Ethics where she works as a graduate assistant for the Healthcare Ethics Consortium. Her current research focuses on computational linguistic analysis of health narrative data, and the use of illness narrative for informing clinical practice of supportive care for patients with neurodegenerative disorders.
The half-priced heart-shaped boxes of chocolates lining grocery store shelves serve as an undeniable marker of the recent holiday. Replete with conceptions of idyllic romance, Valentine’s Day provides an opportunity to celebrate partnership, commitment, and love. However, for those experiencing heartbreak or unrequited love, Cupid may be a harbinger of suffering rather than giddy affection.

The transition from love to pain is an incredibly common experience, and one that is formative for many. The extent of character building in heartbreak and other negative affection experiences is bounded, though, by certain types of “dangerous love”. According to Brian Earp and colleagues, this classification might include domestic abuse, pedophilia, or even jealousy-induced homicide (Earp et al 2013). The suffering associated with these cases surpasses any beneficial emotional development, leading instead to potential enduring physical and psychological harms. Instances of “dangerous love” might become the targets for “drugs that manipulate brain systems at whim to enhance or diminish our love for one another” (Young 2009, 148), which seem to be a reasonable potential product of current trajectories of neuropharmocological research.
Image courtesy of Flikr

These “anti-love” drugs are certainly beneficently intended, and may indeed be of great value in some instances.

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

BioethicsTV: Mass Casualties & Triage

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

Chicago Med (Season 2; Episode 14). Over the last few years I have been working in the area of crisis standards of care. In fact, just today I presented the conclusion of 3 years of work on an ethics white paper to the state of Illinois crisis standards of care task force leadership. Serendipitously, tonight’s episode of Chicago Med dealt with a limited mass casualty situation: A multiple car pile-up on a freeway brings a large number of patients to the hospital. However, there is a major snowstorm and there is no chance of additional personnel or supplies coming to the hospital. How do they deal? First, they moved all able-bodied patients in the ED to the waiting room. Second, they canceled all non-emergency surgeries and reassigned staff to the ED. Both are good moves and follow what most crisis guidelines to prepare for the influx of crisis patient.

One of the patients brought to the ED suffered third degree burns over 90% of his body when his car caught on fire. Dr. Latham declares the patient to be “black tag.” In a mass casualty incidence, triage comes into play to determine which patients to treat and in what order. There are those who seem okay, those who need treatment but can wait, those who need treatment quickly and have a good chance of survival, and those who require massive resources in their intervention and have a low likelihood of survival. Patients are sorted into these categories and given tags with the color of their group.

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

Unseen: Kalief Browder & Solitary Confinement

Judah Adashi, DMA is a composer and professor at the Johns Hopkins Peabody Institute. He was awarded funding by the JHU Exploration of Practical Ethics Program for a project entitled Unseen: Kalief Browder and Solitary Confinement in America. This project will grapple with the ethical responsibility of artists operating within their sociopolitical context, as well as the ethics of solitary confinement and mass incarceration of African Americans.

 

Unseen is inspired by the story of Kalief Browder, a 16-year old black youth who was held in prison for three years without trial, two of them in solitary confinement. Browder committed suicide two years after his release, all the while struggling with psychological trauma. The project will result in a musical composition, part of which will be shared at the Practical Ethics Symposium in January 2017.

 

Unseen dovetails with Professor Adashi’s composition, Rise, a collaboration with poet Tameka Cage Conley, PhD, bearing witness to America’s civil rights journey from Selma to Ferguson. Rise debuted on April 19, 2015, the same day that Freddie Gray died while in Baltimore Police custody. Gray’s death, ruled a homicide, sparked the Baltimore Uprising.

 


 


 

Professor Adashi revisited Rise with the second full performance of the piece held on April 19, 2016 at Mt. Vernon Place United Methodist Church, to honor Freddie Gray. The evening included a panel conversation on art and activism in Baltimore, along with the premiere of a new piece by Professor Adashi, The Beauty of the Protest, performed by cellist and Peabody alumna Lavena Johanson.

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

Healing, Hate, and Solidarity

By Duncan Maru

“Non-violence is the highest spirituality”  Mahavir, Jain Spiritual Leader

“Lord, make me an instrument of your Peace, where there is hatred, let me sow love.”  St. Francis of Assisi

As a physician, it is my calling to heal. Healing goes far deeper than knowing the right science and prescribing the right medication.  It involves a deep and uncompromising feeling of compassion and love towards our patients.

How might a clinician think about the results of last week? President-elect Trump rose to power with a rhetoric of hate, division, and otherness.  Our country suffers deep income inequality and lack of opportunity. Our citizens suffer from the concentration of power and wealth and the resulting lack of education and opportunity.  Mr. Trump understood people’s anger and channeled it towards hate.  Yet hate is incapable of solving problems.  Believing this election was a referendum on America overcoming hate and fear, my family and I had supported and campaigned for Secretary Clinton…

The results engendered in me deep personal loss and disappointment.  Fear and hate had seemingly won. We would not elect America’s first woman president in time to celebrate the 100th year anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Ammendment in 2020.  Whatever his faults on foreign and domestic policy, we would sorely miss President Obama’s grace, his family values, his convictions rooted in spirituality, his commitment to science and rationality, and his ability to provide calm, firm, and compassionate solace in times of national tragedy and uncertainty.  In my heart, I had come to have feelings of hatred towards Mr.

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

Suppression of Necessary Gun Violence Research

STUDENT VOICES | CHYNN PRIZE SECOND-PLACE WINNER

By Colette Berg

Late in July 2015, my mother asked a surgeon friend of hers his opinion on gun control. He shook his head sadly and said, “I’ve operated on good guys shot by burglars, I’ve operated on parents accidentally shot by their children and children accidentally shot by their parents. But never have I once operated on a bad guy shot by a good guy.” He does not buy the popular notion that “good guys” with guns can defend themselves from “bad guys” with guns. Of course, this an anecdote from the life of one surgeon. However, most peoples’ opinions on gun control are based on intuition and personal experience rather than data. Good data about gun violence is hard to find, because Congress has refused to provide funding for gun violence research since 1996.

In 1993, a study in the New England Journal of Medicine found a strong correlation between gun ownership and homicide. The conclusions stated, “Rather than confer protection, guns kept in the home are associated with an increase in the risk of homicide by a family member or intimate acquaintance.”1 This study was funded by the Center for Disease Control. Immediately after its publication, the National Rifle Association began to lobby for the “elimination of the center that had funded the study, the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention.”2 Their efforts to shut down the Center for Injury prevention failed, but “the House of Representatives removed $2.6 million from the CDC’s budget—precisely the amount the agency had spent on firearm injury research the previous year.”3

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

Cost of Medical Assistance in Dying

Cristina Alarcon questions the social costs of legalizing medical assistance in dying.

__________________________________________

In June 2016, Bill C-14 (the legislation on medical assistance in dying) received royal and assent and a new medical service became available to Canadians. This legislation provides some Canadians (patients) with the legal option to request medical assistance in dying and other Canadians (physicians and nurse practitioners) with the legal authority to provide that assistance. But at what cost?

The financial costs related to medical assistance in dying are relatively inexpensive. Physician’s fees have not yet been determined, but an interim document lists the cost at $ 440.05 for a general practitioner and  $519.08 for a specialist. The drugs themselves will cost about $300. In British Columbia, for example, participating drug stores will charge a $60 to $100 “clinical services” fee for dispensing the oral or IV drug regimen plus a backup- in case the patient fails to die.

The social costs of medical assistance in dying might be higher.

First, much has already been said about safeguards that may never be. Already a BC court case seeks to “strike down” as unconstitutional the provision in C-14 that states a person’s “natural death must be reasonably foreseeable” to qualify for death by lethal injection. In time, treatable chronic illnesses may become eligible for this irreversible “treatment.”

Second, there are concerns about harm to vulnerable persons. For example, in 2004, a British nurse tried to murder four of her elderly patients in a ruthless drive to free up hospital beds. In April 2015, a Czech nurse admitted to killing six patients to decrease her workload. 

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

A New Edition of Medicine, Health Care, and Philosophy is Avaiable

Medicine, Health Care, and Philosophy (vol. 19, no. 2, 2016) is available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Measuring ‘Virtue’ in Medicine” by Ben Kotzee and Agnieszka Ignatowicz
  • “Questioning Engelhardt’s Assumptions in Bioethics and Secular Humanism” by Shahram Ahmadi Nasab Emran
  • “You Hoped We Would Sleep Walk Into Accepting the Collection of Our Data”: Controversies Surrounding the UK care.data Scheme and Their Wider Relevance for Biomedical Research” by Sigrid Sterckx, Vojin Rakic, Julian Cockbain, and Pascal Borry
  • “How do Researchers Decide Early Clinical Trials?” by Hannah Grankvist and Jonathan Kimmelman
  • “The Utility of Standardized Advance Directives: The General Practitioners’ Perspective” by Ina Carola Otte, Bernice Elger, Corinna Jung, and Klaus Walter Bally
  • “The Ethics of Killing Human/Great-Ape Chimeras for Their Organs: A Reply to Shaw et al.” by César Palacios-González
  • “Child Organ Trafficking: Global Reality and Inadequate International Response” by Alireza Bagheri
  • “Medicalization in Psychiatry: The Medical Model, Descriptive Diagnosis, and Lost Knowledge” by Mark J. Sedler
  • “Continuous Deep Sedation and Homicide: An Unsolved Problem in Law and Professional Morality” by Govert den Hartogh
  • “The Issue of Being Touched” by Betty-Ann Solvoll and Anders Lindseth
  • “Drinking in the Last Chance Saloon: Luck Egalitarianism, Alcohol Consumption, and the Organ Transplant Waiting List” by Andreas Albertsen

 

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.