Tag: socialism

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 Human freedom must be withdrawn from the order of nature in order to be fully realised.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

The End Of The Affordable Care Act and Its Critics’ Hollow Moral Rhetoric

From the 1940’s to the present, it’s hard to think of a
major topic on the American political agenda that has been subjected to more
tortured language and ideological extremism than healthcare. By no means am I
saying that healthcare proposals to expand access to healthcare over the years
should not have been subjected to rational scrutiny and disagreement. But it
seems, by and large, disagreement over healthcare policy proposals have always
been about the opponents of progressive options to expand insurance coverage
tapping into a certain segment of voters’ deepest fears and biases to
predispose them against any alternative for change.

All progressive leaders who have attempted reform in
healthcare, like Earl Warren (Governor of California from 1943-53) and
President Harry Truman (mid-late 1040’s), to President John Kennedy and Lyndon
Johnson in the 1960’s, to the Clintons in the 1990’s, to Barack Obama in 2009,
have been met with fierce opposition from lobbying groups representing big
business, including insurance and pharmaceutical companies, and often physicians
through the American Medical Association. The essential line of attack has been
that government would become overly involved in medical decision-making and
overshadow the influence and judgment of physicians in the care of patients.
But to win this argument decisively, the hired consultants
devised plans
to associate expanded healthcare coverage or universal
healthcare with “socialized medicine” and even the “red scare”—clear demeaning
associations with undemocratic countries, unlike the United States, that
quickly appeal to irrational sentiments and undermine any consensus for reform.
These basic underhand, scare tactics continued to be effective against the
failed Clinton proposal in 1993 and, later, President Obama’s signature
achievement—the Affordable Care Act—which currently in the process of being
repealed and radically scaled down in terms of benefits.

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

Remembering the ‘Forgotten Victims’ of Nazi ‘Euthanasia’ Murders

January 27, 2017

(Deutsche Welle) – The mass murder of the supposed physically and mentally unfit was a project central to Hitler’s thinking and the ideology of National Socialism. The Nazi leader translated ideas from the international eugenics and Social Darwinist movements of the early 20th century into a homicidal urge to cleanse the corpus of the German people from ailments and weaknesses. This obsession would cost the lives of more than 70,000 people in Germany and many, many more in countries occupied by the Third Reich. But those murders would not have been possible without the active participation of doctors, judges, administrators, scientists and others.

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 – April Part II by Michelle Pentecost

Another set of great papers from the journals in April. Enjoy!

 

 Social Science & Medicine

‘I knew before I was told’: Breaches, cues and clues in the diagnostic assemblage

 Louise Locock, Sarah Nettleton, Susan Kirkpatrick, Sara Ryan and Sue Ziebland

Diagnosis can be both a ‘diagnostic moment’, but also a process over time. This paper uses secondary analysis of narrative interviews on ovarian cancer, antenatal screening and motor neurone disease to explore how people relate assembling procedural, spatial and interactional evidence before the formal diagnostic moment. We offer the idea of a diagnostic assemblage to capture the ways in which individuals connect to and re-order signs and events that come to be associated with their bodies. Building on the empirical work of Poole and Lyne (2000) in the field of breast cancer diagnosis, we identify how patients describe being alerted to their diagnosis, either through ‘clues’ they report picking up (often inadvertently) or through ‘cues’, perceived as a more intentional prompt given by a health professional, or an organisational process. For patients, these clues frequently represent a breach in the expected order of their encounter with healthcare. Even seemingly mundane episodes or behaviours take on meanings which health professionals may not themselves anticipate. Our findings speak to an emergent body of work demonstrating that experiences of formal healthcare during the lead-up to diagnosis shape patients’ expectations, degree of trust in professionals, and even health outcomes.

 

Socio-economic divergence in public opinions about preventive obesity regulations: Is the purpose to ‘make some things cheaper, more affordable’ or to ‘help them get over their own ignorance’?

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: Should you give to beggars? Yes, you should.

Written by Richard Christian.

 

In a stimulating and controversial post on this blog, and later in a paper published in Think, Ole Martin Moen has argued that you should not give to beggars. His argument is simple and familiar. It is that the beggar one encounters in the rich world is, in the scheme of things, doing very well for herself. The London beggar is hungry, ragged, addicted, and schizophrenic; but she is like unto a king in comparison to the starving Ethiopian. If she receives only a few pounds a day and falls asleep in a doorway, she is still much better off than the millions of people in the world now dying for lack of food or clean water. It follows that a pound put in the hand of that beggar is a pound wasted: it should have gone to the person whose need is most urgent. Moen counsels you to ignore the beggar as you pass her on the street, and to give all your spare pounds instead to charities that assist the world’s most needy. In general, in your action, you should aim to do the most good you can. I wish to say here a word in favour of the beggar, and to show what I think is wrong with this currently fashionable line of reasoning in applied ethics.

Let us put some initial objections aside in order to focus the argument. We assume that you, the rich passer-by, have a right to your money. We assume that it is possible to know that by donating your pound to charity you would send it to the most needy and would assist them.

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

Should Rhodes stay or should he go? On the ethics of removing controversial statues

This is an unedited version of an article originally published by The Conversation.

Picture this: it’s 20 April 2021 and the charming Austrian village of Braunau am Inn – Hitler’s birth place – reveals a new statue of Adolf Hitler on the main square. In his inauguration speech, the mayor stresses that although Hitler obviously did many immoral deeds, he also achieved some good things, such as building motorways and railroads, and advancing rocket science. With the new statue, the village wishes to commemorate Hitler’s valuable contributions to Germany and Austria, contributions from which many still reap benefits.

If this scenario were to occur,[1] it would cause a public outcry. It would be considered offensive and disrespectful towards Hitler’s victims and their families. It would also be seen as conveying implicit approval or tolerance of the atrocities that were committed in his name, perhaps making the village authorities complicit in the continuing stigmatisation of those same groups targeted by Hitler. In no time, the village would succumb to the pressure to take it down.

Removal of the Rhodes statue at the University of Cape Town

If there are good reasons not to erect a statue of Hitler, are there also good reasons to remove existing statues that some find problematic, such as that of the controversial British imperialist Cecil Rhodes?

In January, after months of heated debate and Rhodes Must Fall activism, Oxford University’s Oriel College decided to leave a statue of Rhodes on his pedestal at the front of the college. But protests are continuing against Oriel’s decision – mixed in with calls to remove statues of other controversial imperialist figures.

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

Summer Roundup: The Ethnographic Case, Part 2 by Deanna Day

In June, we debuted an extensive new series on Somatosphere, The Ethnographic Case. Edited by Emily Yates-Doerr and Christine Labuski, the series is organized on an expanding, virtual bookCASE, with each individual piece expanding our understanding of case studies — what they are, what they can teach us, and what work they do shaping both our objects of study and our academic fields.

 

“He didn’t blow us up”—routine violence and non-event as case

“This case is a story that a soldier told me. I call her Kelly, and she said it was ‘the craziest story I was gonna get’ from her. So for her it was an extreme, a worst case, but also a kind of telos of conditions she lived with and feelings she felt every day in occupied Iraq. It was a case of something not happening. As is fitting for those tensions of normalcy and emergency and rule and suspension that characterize state violence, it was both exceptional and part of a pattern: the pattern of soldiers’ embodied terror and vulnerability (even as they surely inspired terror in vulnerable others) and the pattern of the mechanisms that shaped their thought and action. It was a case of something that might have happened to Kelly but didn’t, that she might have done but didn’t do, and of things that were treated as if they were real even when they turned out not to be.” —Ken MacLeish

 

What’s in a name?

“‘You can write if you want,’ Estrella gestures to my notebook that sits on the table.

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

Making a Case for Reducing Pollution in China, or The Case of the Ugly Sperm by Janelle Lamoreaux

The Chinese film, Under the Dome, tells the story of a former CCTV news anchor’s struggle to understand and deal with smog in the wake of her pregnancy and motherhood. The filmmaker and narrator, Chai Jing, makes a case for reducing pollution in China by highlighting the potential correlation between Beijing’s smog and the tumor found in her developing fetus, diagnosed in utero. The film was released on video streaming websites in February of this year, and quickly went viral. According to China Dialogue, the video was viewed hundreds of millions of times before being removed from major streaming portals one week later. This viral appeal could be attributed to the film’s concentration on reproductive health, along with the ways environmental and personal narratives intersect at this critical juncture. Case in point: At a screening of Under the Dome that I attended in London, our host introduced the film by relating Chai’s story to her own struggle finding out she was pregnant while living in smog-filled Beijing. In her case, as in Chai’s, tackling pollution in China became more pressing when its potential consequences threatened future generations.

There are other, less personalized, less narrativized approaches to making a case for reducing pollution in China via reproductive health. One of these is developmental and reproductive toxicology. Since the mid-20th century, this branch of toxicology has focused on studying correlations between toxic exposures and reproductive ability, as well as congenital disorders in developing offspring. Among the group of toxicologists I researched while conducting fieldwork in Nanjing, China, who I refer to as the DeTox Lab, the case for reducing China’s pollution was initially made through male infertility.

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

Community Health Workers and Social Change: Global and Local Perspectives — A special issue of the Annals of Anthropological Practice by Aaron Seaman

The current issue of the Annals of Anthropological Practice is a special issue, entitled “Community Health Workers and Social Change: Global and Local Perspectives.” The issue comprises an introduction by Kenneth Maes and five articles, the abstracts of which are below. Enjoy!

Community health workers and social change: An introduction
Kenneth Maes

Major global health institutions, public and private, currently see community health workers (CHWs) as crucial resources. But the daily experiences and complex motives of CHWs, as well as their concerns and criticisms, remain poorly understood by the institutions that promote their value and draw on their labor. Donors, states, NGOs, and other public health institutions often approach the motivations and performance of CHWs as problems that can be solved with a mix of psychological, economic, and management theories; novel incentive packages and supervisory structures; and surveys, interviews, and randomized controlled trials. This special issue shifts the goal toward documenting power inequalities, labor relations, and interactions among CHWs, donors, health officials, supervisors, and care recipients. The articles in this issue offer valuable ethnographic accounts of CHWs in 21st-century Africa, Latin America, and Asia, and deliver a clear message: CHWs participate in important relationships and politics, seeking change in their own job conditions and roles, and other social, political, and economic changes. These forms of “participation” are variable, evolving, and shaped by unique local histories as well as transnational policies and norms. The articles here aim to demonstrate that ethnography and mixed methods can help bring about improvements in policy and practice by explaining and interpreting CHW practices and governance and by encouraging global health actors to treat CHWs not as magic bullets or human resources, but as people with multiple skills, desires, and perspectives.

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

Facebook and political polarization.

There has been a lot of concern expressed about the role that social media might play in political polarization. The worry is that social media users might only expose themselves to news stories with which they agree and have friends that reinforce their own views, and thereby become more extreme in their views and less understanding or tolerant of those who disagree with them. A recent paper seems to show that the phenomenon is real, but less extreme than we might have thought; at least among those people who identify their political orientation. This group is likely to be more politically aware than other users and may be thought to be more extreme in their exposure to self-reinforcing stories. On average, this group had about 23% of friends with an opposing political viewpoint, and about 29% of the stories they read presented views that were opposed to theirs.

One thing worth mentioning about the study is that it showed user choice – what people choose to click on – played a greater role in skewing exposure to stories that might reinforce pre-existing views than did the Facebook algorithm, which tailors stories to user behavior (history of clicking on links to sites, in the main). That’s worth noting because user choice can skew exposure in any medium: online newspapers, print publications, and so on. If skewed exposure is the problem, social media may not be especially to blame.

But I want to focus on another issue. What was the content and what were the effects of that 29% of stories to which users were exposed?

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.