From an ethical point of view, shared decision-making is preferable to either physician paternalism or patient sovereignty. The traditional model of doctor-patient communication is too directive and too unconcerned with the patient's values to support truly shared decision-making. The traditional distinction between rhetoric and sophistic can provide the basis for a new model of mutual persuasion that does not limit communication to information, and that avoids the spectre of manipulation.
The paper is a set of reflections on the moral culture of modern biology built around the author’s experience as a participant observer in two university laboratories. I draw parallels between laboratory culture and organized religion and point out practical problems in conducting scientific research. The notion that good biologists must be atheists is questioned and failures of organized religion are noted. The paper concludes with a suggestion that research ethics should be rooted in laboratory practice and must include vigorous (...) principles of honesty and justice. Those are not requirements imposed from outside but internal requirements of the research community. (shrink)
Religious traditions can be drawn on in a number of ways to illuminate discussions of the moral standing of animals and the ethical use of animals in scientific research. I begin with some general comments about relevant points in the history of major religions. I then briefly describe American civil religion, including the cult of health, and its relation to scientific research. Finally, I offer a critique of American civil religion from a Christian perspective.
Creativity is intrinsic to Humanities and STEM disciplines. In the activities of artists and engineers, for example, an attempt is made to bring something new into the world through counterfactual thinking. However, creativity in these disciplines is distinguished by differences in motivations and constraints. For example, engineers typically direct their creativity toward building solutions to practical problems, whereas the outcomes of artistic creativity, which are largely useless to practical purposes, aspire to enrich the world aesthetically and conceptually. In this essay, (...) an artist (DHS) and a roboticist (GS) engage in a cross-disciplinary conceptual analysis of the creative problem of artificial consciousness in a robot, expressing the counterfactual thinking necessitated by the problem, as well as disciplinary differences in motivations, constraints, and applications. We especially deal with the question of why one would build an artificial consciousness and we consider how an illusionist theory of consciousness alters prominent ethical debates on synthetic consciousness. We discuss theories of consciousness and their applicability to synthetic consciousness. We discuss practical approaches to implementing artificial consciousness in a robot and conclude by considering the role of creativity in the project of developing an artificial consciousness. (shrink)
In his own lifetime Confucius never attained real power and he died feeling that his life had been a failure; yet his teaching came to dominate the political and ritual life of China for thousands of years and to inspire many thinkers in the outside world. Howard Smith describes China in the sixth century B.C. and shows how its history of internal conflict, together with the cult of ancestor worship, gave rise to Confucius' central doctrines of order and 'piety'. He (...) relates how a few disciples kept this teaching alive after Confucius' death and how it came finally to be accepted throughout the huge Chinese empire as the basis for political, educational and ceremonial life. He describes also how Confucianism was slowly changed by the rival philosophies and religions with which it had to compete. This book is therefore not only a history of one of the world's greatest systems of belief but also a study of how such a system both creates and is created by the society in which it exists. -- From publisher's description. (shrink)
I have been a Daniel Callahan reader for over thirty years. My first published review was of Abortion: Law, Choice, and Morality. Callahan's latest book, The Five Horsemen of the Modern World: Climate, Food, Water, Disease, and Obesity, is a sustained and detailed explanation of a series of challenges facing humankind in this century. Callahan's prognosis is bleak, his analyses credible, and while hope is not lost, the moral of the story is that we had better get our act together (...) fast. Callahan argues that when we face challenges like these, rational persuasion is insufficient. Human emotions must be engaged. Without knowledgeable emotional engagement by millions of people, we are done for. It seems to me that he is really calling for a national cultural conversion experience, rather as, almost three hundred years ago, Jonathan Edwards declared that if there is a hell, it makes good sense to frighten people out of it! (shrink)
This article provides a friendly criticism of Meilaender’s positions on the beginning of life and decision making at the end of life. It is argued that his version of the self is narrowly physicalist and individualist with no room for the essentially social and psychological parts of identity or selfhood. That in turn leads to his rigoristic or tutioristic judgments on end of life care.
Many issues in medical ethics seem to turn on arguments about the moral status of some human beings. This essay criticizes attempts to make clear distinctions proposed by Engelhardt, Green/Wikler, Becker, and Brody. The author suggests that the theories discussed divert attention from more resolvable problems.