Aworkshop was held August 26–28, 2015, by the Earth- Life Science Institute (ELSI) Origins Network (EON, see Appendix I) at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. This meeting gathered a diverse group of around 40 scholars researching the origins of life (OoL) from various perspectives with the intent to find common ground, identify key questions and investigations for progress, and guide EON by suggesting a roadmap of activities. Specific challenges that the attendees were encouraged to address included the following: What key (...) questions, ideas, and investigations should the OoL research community address in the near and long term? How can this community better organize itself and prioritize its efforts? What roles can particular subfields play, and what can ELSI and EON do to facilitate research progress? (See also Appendix II.) The present document is a product of that workshop; a white paper that serves as a record of the discussion that took place and a guide and stimulus to the solution of the most urgent and important issues in the study of the OoL. This paper is not intended to be comprehensive or a balanced representation of the opinions of the entire OoL research community. It is intended to present a number of important position statements that contain many aspirational goals and suggestions as to how progress can be made in understanding the OoL. The key role played in the field by current societies and recurring meetings over the past many decades is fully acknowledged, including the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life (ISSOL) and its official journal Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres, as well as the International Society for Artificial Life (ISAL). (shrink)
Data documenting poor understanding among research participants and real-time efforts to assess comprehension in large-scale studies are focusing new attention on informed consent comprehension. Within the context of biobanking consent, we previously convened a multidisciplinary panel to reach consensus about what information must be understood for a prospective participant’s consent to be considered valid. Subsequently, we presented them with data from another study showing that many U.S. adults would fail to comprehend the information the panel had deemed essential. When asked (...) to evaluate the importance of the information again, panelists’ opinions shifted dramatically in the direction of requiring that less information be understood. Follow-up interviews indicated significant uncertainty about defining a threshold of understanding and what should happen when prospective participants are unable to grasp key information. These findings have important implications for urgently needed discussion of whether... (shrink)
Health policymakers employ utility measures to inform resource allocation decisions. They often rely on a conceptual tool called the quality-adjusted life year that discounts the value of years lived in a state of disability relative to years lived in full health. A representative sample of the general public is asked to place values on hypothetical health states as part of a standard gamble or time trade-off task. Policymakers use the resulting values to calculate the number of QALYs gained through particular (...) interventions. Utilitarian reasoning mandates that policymakers maximize QALYs gained per unit cost.Although many scholars have explored the problems of distributive justice that arise from this system... (shrink)
In qualitative interviews with a diverse group of experts, the vast majority believed unregulated researchers should seek out independent oversight. Reasons included the need for objectivity, protecting app users from research risks, and consistency in standards for the ethical conduct of research. Concerns included burdening minimal risk research and limitations in current systems of oversight. Literature and analysis supports the use of IRBs even when not required by regulations, and the need for evidence-based improvements in IRB processes.
Ecological restoration and native landscaping are increasing, particularly in the American Midwest, where they form part of the area's history and culture of conservation. But practitioners rarely pause to ask philosophical questions related to categories of native and invasive or human control and harmony with nature. This article brings philosophy into conversation with practice, using members of Wild Ones Native Landscaping, a non-profit headquartered in Neenah, WI, as a case study. Philosophers and ethicists who are studying Ecological Restoration and Native (...) Landscaping can learn valuable lessons - in practicality, aesthetics and flexibility - from practitioners such as the Wild Ones. (shrink)
Climate engineering is subject to the “playing God” critique, which charges that humans should not undertake to control nature in ways that seem to overstep the proper scope of human agency. This argument is easily discredited, and in fact the opposite—that we should “play God”—may be equally valid in some circumstances. To revive the playing God critique, I argue that it functions not on a logical but on a symbolic and emotional level to highlight nostalgia for functional dualisms in the (...) face of the bewildering problem of climate change. It also raises significant questions about the virtue of those who might engineer the climate. These two concerns point to questions about the proper role of human agency. I use the scholarship of Aldo Leopold and H. Richard Niebuhr to argue for a model of human agency based on contextual awareness and responsive, communal responsibility. I conclude with some implications of this view for decision-makers engaging the topic of climate engineering. (shrink)
I examine the dynamics of measure development using two case studies: temperature, and health-related quality of life. I argue, following Bas van Fraassen and Leah McClimans that in each case these dynamics have a hermeneutic structure. Measure development is plagued by epistemic circularity, as is the task of interpreting a text, and similar strategies can be used in both measure development and hermeneutics to overcome that circularity. I show that Hans Georg Gadamer’s philosophical hermeneutics in particular are an effective lens (...) through which to examine the development of the temperature standard as described by Hasok Chang. Despite similar grounding in hermeneutics, I note an important difference between measure development for temperature and for health-related quality of life. Namely, while the meaning of temperature can be standardized, the meaning of health-related quality of life cannot. This standardization of meaning for the temperature concept represents a limit to the analogy with hermeneutics. Finally, I argue that the indeterminacy we find in health-related quality of life measurement is a result not only of analogy with the hermeneutic task, but of full-fledged participation in it. (shrink)
Consumption--the flow of physical materials in human lives--is an important ethical issue. Be it fair trade coffee or foreign oil, North Americans' consumption choices affect the well-being of humans around the globe, in addition to impacting the natural world and consumers themselves. In this book, Laura Hartman seeks to formulate a coherent Christian ethic of consumption.
Feminist criticism of health care and ofbioethics has become increasingly rich andsophisticated in the last years of thetwentieth century. Nonetheless, this body ofwork remains quite marginalized. I believe thatthere are (at least) two reasons for this.First, many people are still confused aboutfeminism. Second, many people are unconvincedthat significant sexism still exists and aretherefore unreceptive to arguments that itshould be remedied if there is no largerbenefit. In this essay I argue for a thin,``core'' conception of feminism that is easy tounderstand and (...) difficult to reject. Corefeminism would render debate within feminismmore fruitful, clear the way for appropriaterecognition of differences among women andtheir circumstances, provide intellectuallycompelling reasons for current non-feminists toadopt a feminist outlook, and facilitatemutually beneficial cooperation betweenfeminism and other progressive socialmovements. This conception of feminism alsomakes it clear that feminism is part of alarger egalitarian moral and political agenda,and adopting it would help bioethics focus onthe most urgent moral priorities. In addition,integrating core feminism into bioethics wouldopen a gateway to the more speculative parts offeminist work where a wealth of creativethinking is occurring. Engaging with thisfeminist work would challenge and strengthenmainstream approaches; it should also motivatemainstream bioethicists to explore othercurrently marginalized parts of bioethics. (shrink)
The informed consent process for genetic testing does not commonly address preferences regarding disclosure of results in the event of the patient's death. Adults being tested for familial colorectal cancer were asked whether they want their exome sequencing results disclosed to another person in the event of their death prior to receiving the results. Of 78 participants, 92% designated an individual and 8% declined to. Further research will help refine practices for informed consent.
We surveyed IRB chairs' perspectives on offering individual genetic research results to participants and families, including family members of deceased participants, and the IRB's role in addressing these issues. Given a particular hypothetical scenario, respondents favored offering results to participants but not family members, giving choices at the time of initial consent, and honoring elicited choices. They felt IRBs should have authority regarding the process issues, but a more limited role in medical and scientific issues.
This article draws on in-depth case studies of 61 women and men of diverse sexual identities to show how gender, while apparently diminishing in significance, continues to shape interpretations and experiences of virginity loss in complex ways. Although women and men tended to assign different meanings to virginity, those who shared an interpretation reported similar virginity-loss encounters. Each interpretation of virginity—as a gift, stigma, or process—featured unequal roles for virgin and partner, which interacted with gender differences in power to produce (...) interpretation-specific patterns of gender subordination, only one of which consistently gave men power over women. (shrink)
Neither the range of potential results from genomic research that might be returned to participants nor future uses of stored data and biospecimens can be fully predicted at the outset of a study. Informed consent procedures require clear explanations about how and by whom decisions are made and what principles and criteria apply. To ensure trustworthy research governance, there is also a need for empirical studies incorporating public input to evaluate and strengthen these processes.
Despite this virtue's history as an instrument of women's oppression, modesty, at its most basic, means voluntary restraint of one's power, undertaken for the sake of others. It is a mechanism that modifies unequal power relationships and encourages greater compassion and fairness. I use a Christian perspective with influences from Jewish and Muslim sources to examine modesty. The modest person, I argue, must be in relationship with others, must be honestly aware of her impacts on others, must be sensitive to (...) those impacts, compassionate toward others, and willing to hold back for others' sakes. Moreover, modesty is not only a virtue that pertains to sexuality and clothing, but it also can promote virtuous environmental behavior, particularly as it leads to awareness of, and sensitivity to, the effects of everyday behaviors on vulnerable others. (shrink)
: In APo II 3-7 Aristotle discusses a series of difficulties concerning definition, deduction, and demonstration. In this paper I focus on two interrelated but distinct questions: firstly, what are exactly the difficulties emerging from or alluded to in the discussion in II 3-7; secondly, whether and in what sense the discussion in II 3-7 can be considered an aporetic discussion with a specific role to play in the development of the argument in APo II.
Recruiting research participants based on genetic information generated about them in a prior study is a potentially powerful way to study the functional significance of human genetic variation, but it also presents ethical challenges. To inform policy development on this issue, we conducted a survey of U.S. institutional review board chairs concerning the acceptability of recontacting genetic research participants about additional research and their views on the disclosure of individual genetic results as part of recruitment. Our findings suggest there is (...) unlikely to be a “one-size-fits-all” solution, but rather several ethically acceptable approaches to genotype-driven recruitment, depending on context. Disclosures made during the consent process for the original study and the clinical validity of the results are key considerations. Researchers must be prepared to communicate and answer questions in clear lay language about what is known and not known regarding the role of genetics in their proposed area of research. (shrink)
A worldwidemental health crisis is expected, as millions worldwide fear death and disease while being forced into repeated isolation. Thus, there is a need for new proactive approaches to improve mental resilience and prevent mental health conditions. Since the 1990s, art has emerged as an alternative mental health therapy in the United States and Europe, becoming part of the social care agenda. This article focuses on how visual esthetic experiences can create similar patterns of neuronal activity as those observed when (...) the reward system is activated. The activation of the reward structures could have a stress buffering effect, given the interdependence observed between the reward and stress systems. Therefore, could visual esthetic experiences stimulate mental resilience? And if this were the case, could art-based interventions be offered for mental health in the context of COVID-19 and beyond? (shrink)
GraphicalThe need to encourage individuals as active change agents for sustainability transitions has led researchers across disciplines to conceptualize over 70 constructs to assess relevant dispositions to environmental protection and green consumption behaviors. The generated knowledge is, however, fragmented by an unconsolidated set of constructs developed within parallel literature streams. We, hence, use an integrative review method to capture conceptual and operational similarities and distinctiveness of constructs across disciplines in the literature, attempting to unify the knowledge base. Thereby, we identify (...) 34 conceptually distinct constructs relevant for the thematic synthesis on individual-level constructs framing contributions to environmental measures and issues. We followingly propose a taxonomy, systemizing constructs based on their concept type and contextual scope of the environmental challenge addressed. We capture these dimensions in critically assessing relevant and salient conceptual and operational features. We thus create a consolidated picture of extant constructs capturing individual-level environmental sustainability by which we intend a three-fold contribution to the interdisciplinary field. First, the taxonomy and guiding framework for the choice of constructs should assist substantive researchers in identifying appropriate constructs of interest. Second, the systematic integration of similar concepts available in parallel literature streams should assist future endeavors aiming at integrating substantive findings with regard to antecedents, consequences, and other relevant variables. Finally, the taxonomy revealed that conceptualizations mainly scatter around specific combinations of types and scopes while others remain unaddressed. Based on our critical assessment of the relevant features and resulting taxonomy, we identify avenues for future research dedicated to enhancing conceptual rigor and measurement quality in the field and introducing concepts addressing missing but potentially valuable combinations of types and scopes. We conclude that researchers engaging in the proposed avenues with conceptual, methodological, or empirical contributions should consider four critical aspects to advance knowledge accumulation and prevent fragmentation in the interdisciplinary field. We thereby hope to pave the way for a collective, interdisciplinary knowledge base of concepts used to describe and assess individual’s pro-environmental dispositions and practices of green consumption. (shrink)
The vice of acedia deserves—and rewards—a closer reading than is implied in the old rendering ‘sloth’, or even in contemporary readings of ‘spiritual sloth’. Such is at least true in Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae, the subject of the following close reading of this enigmatic vice. Investigating the question on acedia and its grounding in portions of I-II, I first establish acedia’s basis not in a sovereign spiritual ‘choice’ but in the sensitive appetite and the passion of sorrow. This turns the portrait (...) of acedia’s ‘patients’ from those who avoid to those who embrace the labors of love, those who experience acedia’s sorrow in the very midst of pursuing divine joy. A third section steps back to show the entire problem of acedia, including its ‘slothful’ effects, in terms of this one fundamental sorrow that suppresses joy—real rest—in the Lord. I end with Thomas’s remedy, the hope-charged possibility of rising up in defense of the divine joy, turning back acedia’s sorrow at every point of its attack and reclaiming the pleasure of sharing in God’s life. (shrink)
Following press disclosures in 1993 that U.S. government agencies had been using human subjects in tests and trials involving radioactive isotopes since the mid-1940s, a major national initiative to locate and declassify records concerning these tests was initiated. The U.S. Department of Energy, which led the dedassification effort, pledged that a new "culture of openness" would attend the management of classified documents in the future. Following the attacks on the United States in September 2001, this momentum was reversed. Dedassification initiatives (...) were delayed or terminated, and a significant portion of the many thousands of records about "human radiation experiments" during the 1940s and 1950s were removed from both online access, which had been in place since the mid-1990s, and from the public domain altogether. (shrink)