Tag: humanism

Bioethics Blogs

Human Contamination: The Infectious Border Crossings of Jeff VanderMeer’s Area X by Sophia Booth Magnone

“What if an infection was a message, a brightness a kind of symphony? As a defense? An odd form of communication? If so, the message had not been received, would probably never be received” (Acceptance 490).

“What if containment is a joke?” (Acceptance 576).

It all begins with a thorn: the delicate, glittering prickle of an unidentified plant growing at the base of a lighthouse in a sleepy coastal town. On a peaceful sunny day, the thorn pricks a man’s thumb, an act of violence so mild, so mundane, it scarcely attracts notice. Yet the end of the world starts there, where one organism pierces the skin of another. That tiny rift swells to a full-fledged invasion; the man and his lighthouse become the first targets of an inexplicable transformative force. When the initial cataclysm subsides, the coast has been purged of all human life, its inhabitants dead or transformed beyond recognition. The rest of the world is left only with questions. What exactly happened at the lighthouse? What lies dormant in that lonely landscape? Most importantly, how can whatever remains there be contained?

This nebulous, quietly sinister premise forms the foundation of Jeff VanderMeer’s novels Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance, collectively known as the Southern Reach trilogy. The novels take place, for the most part, thirty years after the mysterious event at the lighthouse, which has been officially categorized an “environmental disaster” and, by most people, forgotten about entirely. Only the government organization known as the Southern Reach continues to investigate the cordoned-off region now designated “Area X”: from the byzantine depths of its crumbling bureaucracy, the Southern Reach dispatches research expeditions, interprets findings, and scrabbles desperately at the possibility of defensive action.

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

Participants’ Testimonials: GBI Summer School a Smashing Success, (June 19-30), 2017

The GBI Summer School proved to be even better than anticipated or described. As a newcomer to the discipline, I had expected the course to provide a broad overview of topics and speakers. Indeed, while broad, the degree of expertise and timely subject material provided an excellent and comprehensive survey of the discipline in global and local settings. Moreover, the students provided another dimension of diversity, both in nationalities and areas of expertise. The speakers made their presentation materials readily available, answered questions, and were willing to address topics of interest offline. I would strongly recommend the course to both novices and subject matter experts alike. The course especially demonstrated the need, relevance, and desirability for global bioethics to be better incorporated into public policy formulation.

Geoffrey Pack, Prevention and Protection Officer, Office of Homeland and Security, City of San Diego, M.A.L.D., Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University in Cooperation with Harvard University

The GBI Summer School, in the heart of NYC’s Pace University Campus, is a fantastic opportunity! International scholars and professionals from all over the world attended the program, contributing their experiences and engaging with bioethics experts. The City of New York – with the nearby Pace University Campus, Brooklyn Bridge, City Hall, and 9/11 Memorial – provided the perfect setting to discuss the global ethical challenges in technology and medicine. Discussions ranged from law and politics to culture and psychology, encompassing the ethical dilemmas that define the 21st century. I have immensely enjoyed not just the internationally known faculty but also hearing from the learners who come from all over the world representing diverse fields.

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

GBI Summer School on Global Bioethics, Human Rights and Public Policy

GBI Summer School on Global Bioethics, Human Rights and Public Policy –  Our First Educational Field Trips

by Anaeke Paschal Chinonye

I am a Ph.D. in Philosophy, at the University of Lagos, Nigeria. I am the winner of a partial scholarship which gave me the possibility to attend this unique and very interesting program hosted by GBI.

Friday, June, 23, was a day for field trips. First to the United Nations Headquarters and then to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre. Initially, I thought field trips would be mere social outings and sightseeing with opportunities to take a lot of pictures. The trips proved far more than that; it was rather educational trips loaded with significance. As I got to the main entrance, some basic facts about the UN which I learnt during my Master of International Law and Diplomacy class in the University of Lagos, Nigeria began to flash in my mind. Chiefly, a commitment to international peace and security.

One of my colleagues called me across the road to take pictures, immediately I crossed the road, my eyes went straight to an inscription from the Prophet Isaiah: They shall beat their swords into plough-shares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall no longer lift up sword against nation. Neither shall they learn war anymore. At this point, though the world is still ravaged by wars, terrorism, and insecurity, I felt the UN has a divine mandate which thus must be commended and supported.

Now, after the security check, as I walked into the compound, still lost in wondering contemplation of the critical need for global peace and security, I spotted the statue of a gun with a tied barrel…signaling no more wars.

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

Transhumanism: the abolition of man?

Transhumanist goal intends to free human beings from their human condition with technological support

What is transhumanism? What is the meaning of this concept? When we hear the word transhumanism, the idea may come to mind that it is possible to improve human nature, to go beyond the cultural and social present in which human societies find themselves right now. That is essentially the claim. Transhumanism seeks to improve the human condition, to perfect it, to take it beyond the present moment to overcome its limitations through technology.

Viewed thus, the transhumanist goal seems legitimate, for when has man not sought to perfect himself, to find new cultural situations that offer him a better way of life commensurate with his dignity? Perhaps this is not the right question, though, to find the supposed legitimacy of transhumanism to perfect the human being.

This word must be examined more closely: trans-humanism. It seeks to go beyond the human. Perhaps because the human is seen as a problem. It can undoubtedly be said here that this is the case: the trans is sought – because the human should be eradicated. In itself, the nature of the human being is his condemnation. We can thus see in the transhumanist position the pursuit of European Enlightenment culture, which holds the belief that the human being must be removed from nature in order to be free. Human freedom must be withdrawn from the order of nature in order to be fully realised. In a certain way, herein lies the ideal of scientific progress of modernity.

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

A Lesson in Humanism to Medical Students Prompted by a Mass Casualty Event

by Sergio Salazar, MD, MBE

The purpose of this editorial is to reveal how one of the most tragic events in our nation’s history helped teach future medical providers the influence that humanistic actions can have on relieving suffering and forward healing.

On June 12, 2016 the largest mass shooting incident in our nation’s history claimed the lives of forty-nine innocent victims at the Pulse night club in Orlando. The Pulse night club was frequented by the Latino LGBTQ community. The shooter was identified as a terrorist with extremist religious beliefs adding intolerance for alternative lifestyles and race to the massive loss of life.    Due to the emotional turmoil experienced by everyone in the community, a session was prepared to provide a platform for discussion and closure for our students. Some students had been directly or indirectly involved in the care of the victims. The majority were like the rest of us, bystanders trying to come to grips with the senseless loss of life.

The longitudinal curricular themes (LCT) at the University Of Central Florida College Of Medicine include Ethics and Humanities. As with other aspects of medicine, learning becomes enhanced when the context of a lesson is presented as a real life scenario. After the mass casualty event known as the “Pulse” event, it was evident to everyone that the student body needed the opportunity to express their feeling regarding this tragedy.  To meet this need, the faculty devoted one of the ethics and humanities LCT sessions to facilitate discussion using an expert panel format.

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

ICYMI: The Best of Reflective MedEd

With the holidays upon us, we are taking this opportunity to showcase a few excellent posts from the year gone by.  We invite you to check out these highly popular posts.


Darrell G. Kirch, MD, “Educating for Resilience and Humanism in an Uncertain Time.”

https://reflectivemeded.org/2016/09/27/educating-for-resilience-and-humanism-in-an-uncertain-time/

wald-b2
Hedy Wald, PhD, “Becoming Zusha: Reflecting on Potential in Medical Education and Practice.”

https://reflectivemeded.org/2016/03/09/becoming-zusha-reflecting/

nakae-b2
Sunny Nakae, PhD, “Presence and Vulnerability in Medical Education.” 

https://reflectivemeded.org/2016/02/02/presence-and-vulnerability-in-medical-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.

Bioethics Blogs

Educating for Resilience and Humanism in an Uncertain Time

By Darrell G. Kirch We face a crisis of well-being in medicine. From the acceleration of science to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, rapid change has become the “new normal” for our profession.  While many of the changes have the potential to revolutionize health care, they also create stress and uncertainty within our […]

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

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and Humanity

By Ethan Morris

This post was written as part of a class assignment from students who took a neuroethics course with Dr. Rommelfanger in Paris of Summer 2016.

Ethan Morris is a rising undergraduate senior at Emory University, majoring in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology with a minor in History. Ethan is a member of the Dilks Lab at Emory and is a legislator on the Emory University Student Government Association. Ethan is from Denver, Colorado and loves to ski.

Do you ever want to turn your brain off, even just for a moment? Most of us have probably wanted to get away from the daily stressors and concerns that plague our lives. But aside from a vacation, how can we truly get away? Some people are beginning to turn this hypothetical question into reality.

One man, Thomas Thwaites, decided he would live as a goat for a few days, choosing to forego life as a human in favor of four-legged prosthetics and an all-grass diet. To achieve goat-hood, Thwaites used an increasingly prominent technology called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) that uses electromagnetic induction to temporarily alter brain function. Thwaites applied TMS to the temporal lobe of his brain, namely his speech areas of cortex, thus electromagnetically impairing his ability to speak like a human so he could become more like a goat.


Thwaites quite literally took a vacation from his brain in order to become a goat. This application of TMS has been in the making for decades. For example, studies have shown that TMS over our prefrontal cortex can seriously (albeit temporarily) impair our ability to make strategic decisions.

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.