Tuesday, March 25, 2008

We are meeting tomorrow (Wed.) in biology dept.,-- Nabrit-Mapp-McBay, I believe -- 2nd floor because Dr. Jenkins is going to be leading our class for a while on human experimentation. No reading assignments yet, although you can start looking at the relevant Pence chapter if you'd like.

See you tomorrow AM!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

For Monday after Easter:

Pence Ch. 4. on Abortion. Jamal presents.

Starting Wed. for a week, Dr. Bill Jenkins on human experimentation.

Brief Notes on Judith Thompson’s “A Defense of Abortion”


Thinks early fetuses are not persons, but will assume they are for the sake of argument. How does it follow that abortion is (typically) wrong?

Standard “personhood” argument against abortion:

Persons have a right to life. Yes, women have the right to decide what will happen in and to their bodies. But fetuses are persons, and their right to life is stronger than women’s rights to their bodies. So fetuses may not be killed, so abortion is wrong. (p. 98)

Violinist case:

Persons have a right to life. Yes, people have the right to decide what will happen in and to their bodies. But the violinist is a person, and his right to life is stronger than people’s rights to their bodies. So the violinist may not be unplugged and killed. He must stay plugged into you. (p. 98)

Main Argument:

  1. If the standard personhood argument against abortion is sound, then the argument in the violinist case is sound too (and so it would be wrong for you to unplug).
  2. But the argument in the violinist case is not sound (since it would be permissible for you to unplug.
  3. So the standard personhood argument against abortion is not sound also.

Rape? Rape is irrelevant to what rights you have. (99)

Part 1. On the “extreme view” that abortion is impermissible even to save the pregnant woman’s life.

If the both have a right to life, why not flip a coin? Or mother’s right to life + her bodily rights outweigh fetus’s rights?

Theses 1-4 (p. 100), that direct killing is always wrong / murder / a stringent duty, etc.

If 1-4 were true, unplugging from violinist would (always) be wrong. But it’s not, so 1-4 are false.

1-4 are also false because they imply self-defense is wrong. TINY HOUSE CASE (p. 101)

Thus, the extreme view is false.

Part 2.

“The mother owns the house”. A third party, not just the mother, can intervene. (This is in response to some claims in part 2 that 3rd parties couldn’t defend the mother, but the mother surely can defend herself in the TINY HOUSE).

Part 3.

What is entailed by a “right to life” anyway?

Does a right to life entail everything that’s needed for a life to continue? (103)

HENRY FONDA CASE: If I needed a visit by a famous actor to keep on living, would I have a right to that actor’s visit? Would my friends have a right to kidnap him so he visits? [no]

VIOLINIST CASE: Does he have a right to the use of my kidneys? [no]

Does a right to life entail a right to not be killed by anyone?


Thompson: “a right to life does not guarantee having either a right to be given the use of or a right to be allowed continued use of another person’s body – even if one needs it for life itself. So the right to life will not serve the opponents of abortion in the very simple and clear way in which they seem to have thought it would.” (p. 104)

Part 4.

BOYS BOTH GIVEN CHOCOLATE CASE: both boys are given chocolates to share. (p. 104). If one brother takes them all, he treats the other unjustly.

Unplugging the violinist would not be unjust, because you did not give him the right to use your kidneys.

A right to life is the right to not be killed unjustly. (p. 104).

(p. 105): raped woman does not give fetus the right to her body for food and shelter.

But she is (partially) responsible: she knew what a possible consequence of sex would be.

BURGLAR BARS example (p. 106)

PEOPLE SEEDS EXAMPLE – No right to the use of your house (even) if you took reasonable steps to keep them out.

There’s still a chance of pregnancy! (Remove risk by getting a hysterectomy or never leaving home w/o an army!)

Part 5. “Ought to do X” does not imply someone has a right to X

CHOCOLATE CASE 2: Only one boy is given the chocolates. He ought to share, but the other boy does not have a right to the chocolate.

Even if something is easy (e.g., saving a life), one does not have a right to that save. (HENRY FONDA CASE) (p. 108)

Part 6. Good Samaritan versus the Minimally Decent Samaritan

No laws compel Good Samaritanism, except in the case of abortion. (p. 110)

Part 7.

Part 8.

Some abortions might be indecent.

The details of the case matter.

Of course, early fetuses aren’t persons anyway!

Friday, March 7, 2008

The week after spring break

Today we discussed some initial arguments against abortion, arguments from fetuses being biologically human, having unique genetic codes, being biologically alive, being human beings (see below), and fetuses being (biologically human) persons.

There is a bit more to say about personhood: we need to observe that being biologically human is neither logically sufficient nor necessary for being a person.

And we will discuss arguments from potential. These arguments (and the others) clearly have implications for embryo research, stem cells, and some of the other issues we've looked at recently.
For Monday when we return, here's what and who is on desk. And there are OPS writing assignments due on ALL the readings, so that we are all well prepared!


Lawrence will be presenting Marquis's arguments on abortion. I have you a xerox of an article by Marquis. I've left additional copies in my box. It's also available here somewhere. An OPS writing assignment is due on Marquis that day.


Darryl will present Judith Thompson's article on abortion. I have you a xerox of an article by Marquis. I've left additional copies in my box. It's also available here somewhere. An OPS writing assignment is due on Thompson that day.


Jamal will present Pence Ch. 4 on abortion. An OPS writing assignment is due on Pence that day.

On "human beings":

Today we attempted to figure out what "beings" are or what it is for something (a being?) to be a "being," so that we could try to figure out whether fetus are human beings, i.e., (on one way of unpacking that term), beings that are biologically human. (Another idea would be that human beings are beings that are human, in the sense of being persons, but since persons are clearly beings, that would be a redundant way of understanding the term).

I guess I am in favor of a pretty broad understanding of what "beings" are; I'm ok calling just about any existing entity a "being." I suspect however, that this really is too broad. While I haven't settled this issue, here are few definitions from an online dictionary:


be·ing [bee-ing] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation –noun
1.the fact of existing; existence (as opposed to nonexistence).
2.conscious, mortal existence; life: Our being is as an instantaneous flash of light in the midst of eternal night.
3.substance or nature: of such a being as to arouse fear.
4.something that exists: inanimate beings.
5.a living thing: strange, exotic beings that live in the depths of the sea.
6.a human being; person: the most beautiful being you could imagine.
7.(initial capital letter) God.
a.that which has actuality either materially or in idea.
b.absolute existence in a complete or perfect state, lacking no essential characteristic; essence.
9.Nonstandard. since; because; considering that (often fol. by as, as how, or that): Being it's midnight, let's go home. Being as how you cooked supper, I'll do the dishes.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Gregory Pence's Ethics Program Lecture, "Why Not Enhance Humans?" has been rescheduled for Monday, March 10, at 7:30 p.m. on the Agnes Scott College campus in Evans Hall, rooms ABC. The talk is free and open to the public.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

For Friday we will continue our introductory discussion of the morality of various abortions. We will discuss many of the arguments from the assigned Singer selections. There was an OPS writing assignment on those that was due today.

I gave this handout:

And we looked at a few slides from this Powerpoint:

We will soon talk about Don Marquis's article "Why Abortion is Immoral" -- which will be presented by Lawrence Young -- and we will take a look at some published responses to that article as well. We will then read one of the most famous philosophical articles ever by Judith Thompson on abortion. We will conclude with Pence. That will all take about 3 to 5 classes, I suspect, after the break.

Our next topic will be human experimentation, which will be covered by Dr. Jenkins. We'll read the Pence chapter and he'll have some assigned readings for us. He will be in charge for about a week! :)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

An alternative way of teaching a bioethics class is with an anthology or collection (which tend to have readings that are harder, i.e., just more "technical," and often more "argumentative" than Pence's book). Here is one that I recently got an email about:

ETHICAL ISSUES IN MODERN MEDICINE: Contemporary Readings in Bioethics, Seventh Edition

Bonnie Steinbock, University at Albany
Alex John London, Carnegie Mellon University
John D. Arras, University of Virginia---Charlottesville

Table of Contents

(* indicates new to 7th edition)

The Contributers
Introduction: Moral Reasoning in the Medical Context
Bioethics: Nature and Scope
Sources of Bioethical Problems and Concerns
Challenges to Ethical Theory
Moral Theories and Perspectives
Religious Ethics
"Rights-Based" Approaches
Communitarian Ethics
Virtue Ethics
Nonmoral Considerations
Modes of Moral Reasoning

PART ONE: Foundations of the Health Professional-Patient Relationship
Section 1: Autonomy, Paternalism, and Medical Models
The Hippocratic Oath
Alan Goldman, "The Refutation of Medical Paternalism"
Beneficience Today, or Autonomy (Maybe) Tomorrow?
Bernice S. Elger, Commentary
Jean-Claude Chevrolet, Commentary

*Terrence F. Ackerman, "Why Doctors Should Intervene"
Ezekiel J. Emanuel and Linda L. Emanuel, "Four Models of the Physician-Patient Relationship"

Section 2: Informed Consent & Truth Telling
John D. Arras, "Antihypertensives and the Risk of Temporary Impotence: A Case Study in Informed Consent"
Jay Katz, "Informed Consent--Must it Remain a Fairy Tale?"
Francoise Baylis, "Error in Medicine: Nurturing Truthfulness"
*Leslie J. Blackhall, Gelya Frank, Sheila Murphy and Vicki Mitchel, "Bioethics In a Different Tongue: The Case of Truth-Telling"
Benjamin Freedman, "Offering Truth"

Section 3: Conflicting Professional Roles and Responsibilities
Tarasoff v. Regents of the University of California
Len Fleck and Marcia Angell, "Please Don't Tell"
Lainie Friedman Ross, "Disclosing Misattributed Paternity"
*Dessmon YH Tai, "SARS Plague: Duty to Care or Medical Heroism"
*Ezekiel J. Emanuel, "The Lessons of SARS"
*Gregory L. Eastwood, Daniel Fu-Chang Tsai, Ding-Shinn Chenn and James Dwyer, "What Should the Dean Do?"
*Julie Cantor and Ken Baum, "The Limits of Conscientious Objections--May Pharmacists Refuse to Fill Prescriptions for Emergency Contraception"
*Atul Gawande, "When Law and Ethics Collide--Why Physicians Participate in Executions"
*Ken Baum, "'To Comfort Always: Physician Participation in Executions"
*Daniel Zupan, Gary Solis, Richard Schoonhoven and George Annas, "Dialysis for a Prisoner of War?"

PART TWO: Allocation, Social Justice, and Health Policy
Section 1: Justice, Health, and Health Care
President's Commission for the Study of Ethical Problems in Medicine and Biomedical and Behavioral Research, "An Ethical Framework for Securing Access to Health Care"
Norman Daniels, "Equal Opportunity and Health Care"
H. Tristram Engelhardt, Jr., "Freedom and Moral Diversity: The Moral Failures of Health Care in the Welfare State"
*Richard Wilkinson and Michael Marmot, eds. for the World Health Organization, "The Social Determinants of Health: The Solid Facts"
*Ichiro Kawachi, "Why the United States Is Not Number One in Health"
*Norman Daniels, "Justice, Health, and Health Care"
*Gopal Sreenivasan, "Opportunity Is Not the Key"

Section 2: Allocating Scarce Resources
Alex John London, "Bone Marrow Transplants for Advanced Breast Cancer: The Story of Christine deMeurers"
*Ronald Dworkin, "Justice and the High Cost of Health"
*Robert Steinbrook, "Imposing Personal Responsibility for Health"
*Alexander W. Cappellen and Ole Frithjof Norheim, "Responsibility in Health Care: A Liberal Egalitarian Approach"
Norman Daniels and James Sabin, "Last-Chance Therapies and Managed Care: Pluralism, Fair Procedures, and Legitimacy"
*James Dwyer, "Illegal Immigrants, Health Care, and Social Responsibility"
*John D. Arras, "Rationing Vaccine During an Avian Influenza Pandemic: Why It Won't Be Easy"
*Ezekiel J. Emanuel and Alan Wertheimer, "Who Should Get Flu Vaccine When Not All Can?"

Section 3: Organ Transplantation: Gifts vs. Markets
*Janet Radcliffe-Richards, Abdallah S. Daar, Ronald D. Guttman, Raymond Hoffenberg, Ian Kennedy, Margaret Lock, Robert A. Sells, Nicholas L. Tilney, for the International Forum for Transplant Ethics, "The Case for Allowing Kidney Sales"
*Charles A. Erin and John Harris, "An Ethical Market in Human Organs"
*Donald Joralemon and Phil Cox, "Body Values: The Case Against Compensating for Transplant Organs"

Section 4: Poverty, Health, and Justice Beyond National Borders
*Thomas A. Pogge, "Responsibilities for Poverty-Related Ill Health"
*Mathias Risse, "Do We Owe the Global Poor Assistance or Rectification?"

PART THREE: Defining Death, Forgoing Life-Sustaining Treatment, and Euthanasia
Section 1: The Definition of Death
President's Commission for the Study of Ethical Problems in Medicine and Biomedical and Behavioral Research, "Defining Death"
*James L. Bernat, "The Whole-Brain Concept of Death Remains Optimum Public Policy"
*Jeff McMahan, "An Alternative to Brain Death"

Section 2: Decisional Capacity and the Right to Refuse Treatment
State of Tennessee Department of Human Services v. Mary C. Northern: Transcript of Proceedings, Testimony of Mary C. Northern
Allen Buchanan and Dan W. Brock, "Deciding for Others: Competency"
Keith Burton, "A Chronicle: Dax's Case as it Happened"
Robert B. White, Commentary
H. Tristram Engelhardt, Commentary

Section 3: Advance Directives
George J. Annas, "The Health Care Proxy and the Living Will"
*Angela Fagerlin and Carl E. Schneider, "Enough: The Failure of the Living Will"
Norman L. Cantor, "Testing the Limits of Precedent Autonomy: Five Scenarios"

Section 4: Choosing for the Once-Competent
*Jay Wolfson, "Erring on the Side of Theresa Schiavo: Reflections of the Special Guardian Ad Litem"
*Wesley J. Smith, "'Human Non-Person'Terri Schiavo, Bioethics, and Our Future"
In the Matter of Claire C. Conroy
John D. Arras, "The Severely Demented, Minimally Functional Patient: An Ethical Analysis"
U.S. Bishops Pro-Life Committee, "Nutrition and Hydration: Moral and Pastoral Reflections"
Rebecca S. Dresser and John A. Robertson, "Quality of Life and Non-Treatment Decisions for Incompetent Patients: A Critique of the Orthodox Approach"
Nancy K. Rhoden, "The Limits of Legal Objectivity"

*Section 5: Choosing for the Never-Competent
*Alicia Ouellette, "Termination of Life-Support for a Never-Competent Patient: the Sheila Pouliot Case"
*John Robertson, "Extreme Prematurity and Parental Rights After Baby Doe"
*John Paris, Michael D. Schreiber and Alun Elias-Jones, "Resuscitation of the Preterm Infant Against Parental Wishes"

Section 6: Physician-Assisted Death
Timothy E. Quill, "Death and Dignity: A Case of Individualized Decision Making"
John D. Arras, "Physician-Assisted Suicide: A Tragic View"
Assisted Suicide: an Amicus Curiae Brief
Ronald Dworkin, "Introduction"
Ronald Dworkin, Thomas Nagel, Robert Nozick, John Rawls, Thomas Scanlon, and Judith Jarvis Thomson, "The Philosophers' Brief"

Margaret Battin, "Euthanasia: The Way We Do It, The Way They Do It" (updates for the new edition)
John Hardwig, "Is There A Duty to Die?"
Felicia Nimue Ackerman, "'For Now Have I My Death':the 'Duty to Die' versus the Duty to Help the Ill Stay Alive"

PART FOUR: Reproduction
Section 1: The Morality of Abortion
Pope John Paul II, "The Unspeakable Crime of Abortion"
Don Marquis, "Why Abortion is Immoral"
Bonnie Steinbock, "Why Most Abortions Are Not Wrong"
Judith Jarvis Thomson, "A Defense of Abortion"
Margaret Olivia Little, "The Morality of Abortion"

Section 2: Obligations to the Not-Yet-Born
*Howard Minkoff and Lynn M. Paltrow, "The Rights of 'Unborn Children' and the Value of Pregnant Women"
Allen Buchanan, Dam Brock, Norman Daniels and Daniel Wikler, "Reproductive Freedom and the Prevention of Genetically Transmitted Harmful Conditions"
*Richard J. Hull, "Cheap Listening?--Reflections on the Concept of Wrongful Disability"

Section 3: Assisted Reproduction
John A. Robertson, "The Presumptive Primacy of Procreative Liberty"
Vatican, "Instruction on Respect for Human Life in Its Origin and on the Dignity of Procreation"
*Thomas H. Murray, "What are Families for? Getting to an Ethics of Reproductive Technology"
*Jessica Cohen, "Grade A: The Market for a Yale Woman's Eggs"
*Bonnie Steinbock, "Payment for Egg Donation"

Section 4: Reproductive Cloning
*The President's Council on Bioethics, "The Case Against Cloning-to-Produce-Children"
*Bonnie Steinbock, "Reproductive Cloning: Another Look"
Thomas H. Murray, "Even If It Worked, Cloning Wouldn't Bring Her Back"

PART FIVE: Genetics
Section 1: Prenatal Genetic Testing
Adrienne Asch, "Prenatal Diagnosis and Selective Abortion: A Challenge to Practice and Policy"
*Bonnie Steinbock, "Disability, Prenatal Testing and Selective Abortion"
Jeffrey R. Botkin, "Ethical Issues and Practical Problems in Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis"
Bonnie Steinbock, "Case Study on Molly and Adam Nash"

Section 2: Therapeutic Cloning and Stem Cell Research
*Michael Sandel, "Embryo Ethics--The Moral Logic of Stem-Cell Research"
*Robert George and Patrick Lee, "Acorns and Embryos"
*William FitzPatrick, "Surplus Embryos, Nonreproductive Cloning, and the Intend/Foresee Distinction"

PART SIX: Experimentation on Human Subjects
Section 1: Born in Scandal: The Origins of US Research Ethics
The Nuremburg Code
John D. Arras, "The Jewish Chronic Disease Hospital Case"
David J. Rothman and Sheila M. Rothman, "The Willowbrook Hepatitis Studies"
Allan M. Brandt, "Racism and Research: The Case of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study"
The National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research, "The Belmont Report"

Section 2: The Ethics of Randomized Clinical Trials
Maurie Markman, "Ethical Difficulties with Randomized Clinical Trials Involving Cancer Patients: Examples from the Field of Gynecologic Oncology"
Samuel Hellman and Deborah S. Hellman, "Of Mice but Not Men: Problems of the Randomized Clinical Trial"
Benjamin Freedman, "A Response to a Purported Ethical Difficulty with Randomized Clinical Trials Involving Cancer Patients"

Section 3: Ethical Issues in International Research
Peter Lurie and Sidney M. Wolfe, "Unethical Trials of Interventions to Reduce Perinatal Transmission of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus in Developing Countries"
Robert A. Crouch and John D. Arras, "AZT Trials and Tribulations"
Alex John London, "The Ambiguity and the Exigency: Clarifying 'Standard of Care' Arguments in International Research"
Leonard H. Glanz, George J. Annas, Michael A Grodin, and Wendy K. Mariner, "Reasearch in Developing Countries: Taking 'Benefit' Seriously"
*Participants in the 2001 Conference on Ethical Aspects of Research in Developing Countries, "Fair Benefits for Research in Developing Countries"

Section 4: Research on Children
Alex John London, "Children and 'Minimal Risk' Research: The Kennedy-Krieger Lead Paint Study"
Thomas H. Murray, "Research on Children and the Scope of Responsible Parenthood"
Benjamin Freedman, Abraham Fuks, and Charles Weijer, "In Loco Parentis: Minimal Risk as an Ethical Threshold for Research upon Children"

PART SEVEN: Emerging Technologies and Perennial Issues
Section 1: Emerging Technologies
*Steven Pinker, "Designer Baby Myth"
*Mark A. Rothstein, "Applications of Behavioral Genetics: Outpacing the Science"
*Walter Glannon, "Neuroethics"

Section 2: Enhancement
*David B. Allen, "Growth Hormone Therapy for the Disability of Short Stature"
Norman Daniels, "The Genome Project, Individual Differences, and Just Health Care"
*Julian Savulescu, "Genetic Interventions and the Ethics of Enhancement of Human Beings"
*Michael Sandel, "The Case Against Perfection: What's Wrong with Designer Children, Bionic Athletes, and Genetic Engineering"
*Ronald Bailey, "Anyone for Tennis, at the Age of 150??"

Section 3: Free Will and Responsibility
*Walter Glannon, "Neurobiology, Neuroimaging, and Free Will"

Appendix: Resources in Bioethics