‘Bioethics still has important work to do in helping to secure status equality for LGBT people’ writes Timothy F. Murphy in a recent Bioethics editorial. The focus of his piece, however, is much narrower than human rights, medical care for LGBT people, or ending the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Rather, he is primarily concerned with sexuality and gender identity, and the medical intersections thereof. It is the objective of this response to provide an alternate account of bioethics from a Queer perspective. (...) I will situate Queer bioethics within Queer studies, and offer three ‘lessons’ that bioethics can derive from this perspective. These are not definitive rules for Queer bioethics, since it is a field which fundamentally opposes categorizations, favoring pastiche over principles. These lessons are exploratory examples, which both complement and contradict LGBT bioethics. My latter two lessons – on environmental bioethics and disability – overlap with some of Murphy's concerns, as well as other conceptions of LGBT bioethics. However, the first lesson takes an antithetical stance to Murphy's primary focus by resisting all forms of heteroconformity and disavowing reproduction as consonant with Queer objectives and theory. The first lesson, which doubles as a primer in Queer theory, does heavy philosophical lifting for the remainder of the essay. This response to Timothy F. Murphy, whose work is certainly a legacy in bioethics, reveals the multiplicity of discourses in LGBT/Queer studies, many of which are advantageous – even essential – to other disciplines like bioethics. (shrink)
In their paper “Members First: The Ethics of Donating Organs and Tissues to Groups,” Timothy Murphy and Robert Veatch question the ethical underpinnings of LifeSharers, a grass-roots effort to increase the supply of organs by giving organ donors preferred access to organs.
Jean E. Chambers and Timothy F. Murphy responded to my article “Cloning and Infertility” and extended the debate over human cloning in interesting ways. I had argued that none of the objections to cloning by somatic cell nuclear transfer are successful in the context of infertile couples who use cloning to have genetically related children, assuming the issue of safety is overcome by scientific advances.
D. Micah Hester thinks the residency match system helps sustain the divide between the haves and the have-nots in healthcare. He believes that the match system channels talent away from the have-nots in a more or less systematic way, damaging moral values in physicians as it goes. As a way of making inroads against these effects, he has asked whether assigning medical school graduates to residencies at random would distribute talent and educational opportunity more broadly and promote desirable moral values. (...) I pointed out what I think are serious limitations of this proposal, and Hester has extended me the courtesy of a reply. Yet with that reply, I find that he has made it even more difficult to defend a lottery approach to residency assignment. (shrink)
According to an almost axiomatic standard in bioethics, moral commitment should ground parents’ relationship with their children, rather than biogenetic relatedness. This standard has been used lately to express skepticism about extending existing assisted reproductive treatments (ARTs) to same‐sex couples and to research into novel fertility interventions for those couples, but this skepticism is misplaced on several grounds. As a matter of access and equity, same‐sex couples seem presumptively entitled to genetic relatedness to their children as far as possible both (...) in regard to existing ARTs and to novel ARTs under investigation. For those worried about the effects of trying to secure biogenetic relatedness for same‐sex couples, it may be noted that same‐sex couples will only ever be a fraction of the parents implicated in propping up “biologism,” as the expectation of biogenetic relatedness it is sometimes called. The cultural force of biologism would survive almost intact even if no same‐sex couples were ever to have genetically related children. It is therefore hard to see why same‐sex couples should forfeit aspirations to biogenetic relationships with their children or enjoy less subsidy for ARTs than the subsidy given to different‐sex couples. As matter of moral consistency, the full implications of the biologism critique have yet to be evaluated relative to different‐sex couples. (shrink)
This book delivers a definitive contribution to the understanding of Habermas's oeuvre as it applies to education. The authors examine Habermas's contribution to pedagogy, learning and classroom interaction; the relation between education, civil society and the state; forms of democracy, reason and critical thinking; and performativity, audit cultures and accountability.
Some commentators maintain that gestational surrogates are not ‘mothers’ in a way capable of grounding a claim to motherhood. These commentators find that the practices that constitute motherhood do not extend to gestational surrogates. We argue that gestational surrogates should be construed as mothers of the children they bear, even if they fully intend to surrender those children at birth to the care of others. These women stand in a certain relationship to the expected children: they live in changed moral (...) circumstances by reason of their pregnancy, and they engage in the practices said to define motherhood in the post‐birth context. By contrast, ovum donors and embryo donors are not similarly ‘mothers’ because they do not find themselves involved in these circumstances. Not all women involved in three‐parent in vitro fertilization qualify as mothers either. Given this analysis of mothering, we note that transmen who gestate children are engaged in mothering activity even if they otherwise function as a father to those children. By itself, this defence of the maternity of gestational surrogates does not confer moral title to the children they bear; gestation would not by itself override the contractual arrangements gestational surrogates have made regarding the disposition of their children. This interpretation of gestational surrogates as mothers does, however, undercut cultural understandings of these women as mere ‘vessels’, devoid of entitlement to respect as persons and parents. We also consider the meaning of mothering for ‘brain‐dead’ women kept alive to give birth and for the prospect of extracorporeal gestation. (shrink)
Nancey Murphy has been influential in the religion‐and‐science field through her espousal of the work of Imre Lakatos, more recently developed into a three‐tier approach to the joint epistemology of scientific and religious thought incorporating also the ideas of Hempel and MacIntyre. She has proposed a substantial influence of the radical reformed tradition on science and has demonstrated the nature of social influences on the form of Darwinism. She has developed important links between ethics and the science‐theology debate and (...) has examined in depth ideas associated with hierarchical structuring, supervenience, and the nature of the soul. Together these form a unique and sharply focused contribution to the understanding of the relation between science and religion. (shrink)
For centuries, philosophers, political scientists, and jurists have struggled to understand the possibilities for justice and peace among a multiplicity of sovereign states. Like Dante, who sought to organize the world under the authority of the Holy Roman Empire, many theorists have tried to explain how sovereign states should be governed to ensure stability and peace in the absence of any established higher authority. Theories of World Governance traces the various conceptual approaches to world harmony from the close of the (...) Middle Ages to today. Considering the immediate problems of order in a decentralized world community, Cornelius F. Murphy, Jr., outlines what he believes are the essential long-term conditions for world peace. Covering a wide range of disciplines -- from theology and philosophy to jurisprudence, ethics, and sociology -- Murphy explores how theorists have reflected upon the necessary components of an effective global order. At the outset, the thought of Christian Europe was shaped by a belief in a natural order established by the Creator of the universe. However, with the advent of the Enlightenment, the connections between the human and the transcendent were severed. There was a movement from a theocentric understanding of the powers of the human mind to an intellectual outlook that blurred the distinctions between the divine and human. This study in the history of ideas examines the profound effects of the fundamental shift from transcendence to immanence upon the development of international theory. Murphy discusses the thought of Leibniz, Wolff, Kant, Hegel, and Phillip Allott, among others. The study concludes with an extended reflection on the importanceof a sound political philosophy to the future well-being of the global community. Possible improvements in the existing arrangements, such as reform of the United Nations, are discussed. Murphy suggests that in order for a society of sovereign states to be transformed into a world political community, human rights and self-governance within states must first be strengthened and, at the same time, individuals of all states must begin to realize their responsibilities toward the whole human family. (shrink)
ABSTRACT In this essay the argument set forth by Michael Levin regarding the abnormality of homosexual behaviour is reviewed and criticized. Against his argument which holds that homosexual behaviour is abnormal because it constitutes an evolutionary aberration, I argue that Levin's and all similarly constructed arguments fail to show that evolutionary origins of sexual behaviour have any significant normative force. I contend that his notion of homosexuality is confused and that he fails to consider alternative methods of how homosexuality might (...) have indeed served evolutionary adaptive purposes or been the result of surplus adaptations. I argue, too, that Levin's linking of unhappiness with homosexual behaviour is spurious and ill‐supported. Consequently, I reject Levin's claims that public policy ought to do what it can to minimize the incidence of such behaviour. I argue by contrast that if happiness is the end of public policy decisions, then society ought to take what measures it can to protect persons in respect of their homosexual behaviour and identities. (shrink)
Reports about possible genetic bases of homoerotic sexual orientation in adults have received a kind of schizophrenic social reception. On the one hand, these reports have been welcomed by some gay men and lesbians as biological confirmation of the commonly held view that sexual orientation is an involuntary trait, that sexual orientation is not in any meaningful sense chosen. Simon LeVay has received mail from thankful correspondents who welcomed his 1991 report about the possible neuroanatomical basis for male homoerotic sexual (...) orientation, and some legal analysts see important implications of biological studies for the ways in which civil rights are recognized, especially those that depend on an immutable characteristic like race or gender. (shrink)
Medical residency—specialty training after the completion of medical school—is an essential component of medical education and is required in order to be a licensed, independent medical practitioner in most jurisdictions. As things currently stand in the United States, the match between medical school graduates and residency programs is governed by a match between rank-order lists prepared by candidates and residencies alike. An applicant picks a number of residency programs and ranks them according to order of interest. The residency program prepares (...) a similar list, ranking the candidates it most wants in its program. A computer program compares the rankings and makes assignments according to a certain algorithm. Using these lists, the match system assigns approximately 24,000 applicants to approximately 21,000 training positions in pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, internal medicine, and the rest. These assignments are then announced to all parties on specific days. The system has been in place since 1952 and is overseen by the National Residency Match Program, a nonprofit organization. This system has several advantages. First of all, it standardizes the timetable for decisions, and applicants are in no position to tie up offers while waiting to hear from other institutions. Institutions are not held captive, either, in making assignments while waiting to hear from particular parties. (shrink)
For many commentators in bioethics and the law, safety is the fulcrum for evaluating the ethics of human reproductive cloning. Carson Strong has argued that if cloning were effective and safe it should be available to married couples who have tried to have children through various assisted reproductive technologies but been unable to do so. On his view, cloning should be available only as reproductive last resort. I challenged that limited use by trying to show that the arguments Strong adduces (...) in favor of reproductive somatic nuclear transfer for married couples extend to same-sex couples as well, who face a different kind of infertility. I also went on to argue that his justifications would in fact extend the legitimate use of SNT to any couples regardless of whether they had fertility difficulties or not. (shrink)
"In my view, [Murphy] has written the most incisive general critical essay on the Human Genome Project yet to appear."--Troy Duster, Director, Institute for the Study of Social Change, University of California, Berkeley "In my view, [Murphy] has written the most incisive general critical essay on the Human Genome Project yet to appear."--Troy Duster, Director, Institute for the Study of Social Change, University of California, Berkeley.
Carson Strong has argued that if human cloning were safe it should be available to some infertile couples as a matter of ethics and law. He holds that cloning by somatic cell nuclear transfer should be available as a reproductive option for infertile couples who could not otherwise have a child genetically related to one member of the couple. In this analysis, Strong overlooks an important category of people to whom his argument might apply, couples he has not failed to (...) consider elsewhere. In this discussion, however, Strong refers exclusively to opposite sex couples facing obstacles such as surgically removed ovaries and the inability to produce sperm. In fact, however, there are many adult couples who, while fertile in and of themselves, are not fertile as couples. This group includes not only opposite sex couples but coupled same sex partners as well. I believe the defenses Strong offers regarding the use of SCNT by opposite sex infertile couples would extend to same sex couples for two reasons. First, some same sex couples might face the inability to have a genetically related child, and second, Strong's arguments ultimately ground a general defense of SCNT independent of the question of a couple's fertility. (shrink)
Background: There is a growing interest in using cognitive behavioural therapy with people who have Asperger Syndrome and comorbid mental health problems. Aims: To examine whether modified group CBT for clinically significant anxiety in an AS population is feasible and likely to be efficacious. Method: Using a randomised assessor-blind trial, 52 individuals with AS were randomised into a treatment arm or a waiting-list control arm. After 24 weeks, those in the waiting-list control arm received treatment, while those initially randomised to (...) treatment were followed-up for 24 weeks. Results: The conversion rate for this trial was high, while attrition was 13%. After 24 weeks, there was no significant difference between those randomised to the treatment arm compared to those randomised to the waiting-list control arm on the primary outcome measure, the Hamilton Rating Scale for Anxiety. Conclusions: Trials of psychological therapies with this population are feasible. Larger definitive trials are now needed. Declaration of Interest: None Trial Registration: ISRCTN 30265294, UKCRN 8370. (shrink)
Some parents have taken steps to ensure that they have deaf children, a choice that contrasts with the interest that other parents have in enhancing the traits of their children. Julian Savulescu has argued that, morally speaking, parents have a duty to use assisted reproductive technologies to give their children the best opportunity of the best life. This view extends beyond that which is actually required of parents, which is only that they give children reasonable opportunities to form and act (...) on a conception of a life that is good for them. Does the selection of deaf children violate that responsibility? Morally speaking, parents should refrain from using assisted reproductive treatments or prenatal interventions in order to have a child with a disability. Deafness and other disabilities represent intrinsic disadvantages that cannot be offset by other advantages that families and society can offer to people. By the same token, neither should parents seek enhancements of intelligence or physical traits that would undercut intrinsic goods of human life in similar ways. These moral arguments do not, however, sustain the judgment that the law should necessarily interfere with parents' decisions in these matters, even if those choices are morally unwise. (shrink)
There are no technologies at the present time that would allow parents to select the sexual orientation of their children. But what if there were? Some commentators believe that parents should be able to use those techniques so long as they are effective and safe. Others believe that these techniques are unethical because of the dangers they pose to homosexual men and women in general. Both sides point to motives and consequences when trying to analyse the ethics of this question. (...) These arguments are reviewed, and it is concluded that opponents of these technologies have not shown good reason why the law or policy should override parental choice in this matter. In general, therefore, if technologies become available to choose the sexual orientation of children, parents should be allowed to use them, provided they are safe and disrupt no interest of the child. This use will, at the very least, protect homosexual children from parents who do not want them, but it will also allow parents who want homosexual children to make that choice as well. (shrink)
Some commentators argue that conception constitutes the onset of human personhood in a metaphysical sense. This threshold is usually invoked as the basis both for protecting zygotes and embryos from exposure to risks of death in clinical research and fertility medicine and for objecting to abortion, but it also has consequences for certain religious perspectives, including Catholicism whose doctrines directly engage questions of personhood and its meanings. Since more human zygotes and embryos are lost than survive to birth, conferral of (...) personhood on them would mean – for those believing in personal immortality – that these persons constitute the majority of people living immortally despite having had only the shortest of earthly lives. For those believing in resurrection, zygotes and embryos would also be restored to physical lives. These outcomes do not mean that conception cannot function as a metaphysical threshold of personhood, but this interpretation carries costs that others do not. For example, treating conception as a moral threshold of respect for human life in general, rather than as a metaphysical threshold of personhood, would obviate the prospect of the afterlife being populated in the main by persons who have never lived more than a few hours or days. (shrink)
Some commentators have criticized bioethics as failing to engage religion both as a matter of theory and practice. Bioethics should work toward understanding the influence of religion as it represents people's beliefs and practices, but bioethics should nevertheless observe limits in regard to religion as it does its normative work. Irreligious skepticism toward religious views about health, healthcare practices and institutions, and responses to biomedical innovations can yield important benefits to the field. Irreligious skepticism makes it possible to raise questions (...) that otherwise go unasked and to protect against the overreach of religion. In this sense, bioethics needs a vigorous irreligious outlook every bit as much as it needs descriptive understandings of religion. (shrink)
The marginality of poetry in American culture has been taken for granted at least since the dawn of the modernist period, when Walt Whitman printed his first volume of poetry at his own expense. More recently, it has become an article of faith that there is a real popular audience for poetry, but somewhere else-in the East. Literary journals, the popular press, and publishers have made household names of a handful of Eastern European writers: Czeslaw Milosz, Joseph Brodsky, Zbigniew Herbert. (...) One is regaled with chestnuts about ordinary people in the Eastern bloc who care about "the Word," manuscripts passed from hand to hand, even poems preserved orally. Inevitably, the questions are revived: Where are the great American poets? Has American poetry been reduced to private confessions and personal trivia? Why is it that our poetry lacks that public, political relevance? The answer to such questions is often that we do not have the weight of History on our backs, the state oppression under which, as Milosz says, "poetry is no longer alienated," no longer "a foreigner in society," and can become more important than bread.1 But what has not surfaced in the vaunted "poetry and politics" debate is the extent to which our homage to victims of censorship everywhere has become a fetishization of totalitarianism, and a self-serving one at that. The mythology of our freedom, unbounded and unmediated, depends precisely on this other world, on what happens over there. 1. Czeslaw Milosz, The Witness of Poetry , p. 95; hereafter abbreviated WP. Bruce F. Murphy's work has appeared in the Paris Review, Pequod, and An Gael. He has completed a manuscript of poems and with Friedrich Ulfers is writing a study of Friedrich Nietzsche. (shrink)
Review of: War Surgery in Afghanistan and Iraq: A Series of Cases, 2003–2007. Falls Church, VA: Office of the Surgeon General, United States Army; Washington, DC: Borden Institute: Walter Reed Army Medical Center; 2008.