The Repugnant Conclusion served an important purpose in catalyzing and inspiring the pioneering stage of population ethics research. We believe, however, that the Repugnant Conclusion now receives too much focus. Avoiding the Repugnant Conclusion should no longer be the central goal driving population ethics research, despite its importance to the fundamental accomplishments of the existing literature.
Many states recognize a legal right to bodily integrity, understood as a right against significant, nonconsensual interference with one’s body. Recently, some have called for the recognition of an analogous legal right to mental integrity: a right against significant, nonconsensual interference with one’s mind. In this chapter, we describe and distinguish three different rationales for recognizing such a right. The first appeals to case-based intuitions to establish a distinctive duty not to interfere with others’ minds; the second holds that, if (...) we accept a legal right to bodily integrity, then we must, on pain of philosophical inconsistency, accept a case for an analogous right over the mind; and the third holds that recent technological developments create a need for a legal right to mental integrity. (shrink)
Would compulsory treatment or vaccination for Covid-19 be justified? In England, there would be significant legal barriers to it. However, we offer a conditional ethical argument in favour of allowing compulsory treatment and vaccination, drawing on an ethical comparison with external constraints—such as quarantine, isolation and ‘lockdown’—that have already been authorised to control the pandemic. We argue that, if the permissive English approach to external constraints for Covid-19 has been justified, then there is a case for a similarly permissive approach (...) to compulsory medical interventions. (shrink)
We engage with the nature and the value of achievement through a critical examination of an argument according to which biomedical “enhancement” of our capacities is impermissible because enhancing ourselves in this way would threaten our achievements. We call this the argument against enhancement from achievement. We assess three versions of it, each admitting to a strong or a weak reading. We argue that strong readings fail, and that weak readings, while in some cases successful in showing that enhancement interferes (...) with the nature or value of achievement, fail to establish that enhancement poses an unusual threat to achievement. (shrink)
Adolescents are routinely treated differently to adults, even when they possess similar capacities. In this article, we explore the justification for one case of differential treatment of adolescents. We attempt to make philosophical sense of the concurrent consents doctrine in law: adolescents found to have decision-making capacity have the power to consent to—and thereby, all else being equal, permit—their own medical treatment, but they lack the power always to refuse treatment and so render it impermissible. Other parties, that is, individuals (...) who exercise parental responsibility or a court, retain the authority to consent on an adolescent’s behalf. We explore four defences of the doctrine. We reject two attempts to defend the asymmetry in the power to consent to and refuse medical treatment by reference to transitional paternalism. We then consider and reject a stage of life justification. Finally, we articulate a justification based on the distinctiveness of adolescent well-being. (shrink)
We explore the ethics of using motivational interviewing, an evidence-based, client-centred and directional counselling method, in conversations with next of kin about deceased solid organ donation. After briefly introducing MI and providing some context around organ transplantation and next of kin consent, we describe how MI might be implemented in this setting, with the hypothesis that MI has the potential to bring about a modest yet significant increase in next of kin consent rates. We subsequently consider the objection that using (...) MI in this context would be manipulative. Although we cannot guarantee that MI would never be used in a problematically manipulative fashion, we conclude that its use would, nevertheless, be permissible as a potential means to increase next of kin consent to deceased solid organ donation. We propose that MI be trialled in consent situations with next of kin in nations where there is widespread public support for organ donation. (shrink)
This article is about the information relevant to decision-making capacity in refusal of life-prolonging medical treatment cases. We examine the degree to which the phenomenology of the options available to the agent—what the relevant states of affairs will feel like for them—forms part of the capacity-relevant information in the law of England and Wales, and how this informational basis varies across adolescent and adult medical treatment cases. We identify an important doctrinal phenomenon. In the leading authorities, the courts appear to (...) count the first-personal phenomenology of the available options among the information that adolescents seeking to refuse life-prolonging treatment must understand and appreciate in order to possess capacity; adults are not held to this (higher) standard. We evaluate this differential treatment in light of philosophical work on transformative choice—decisions involving options whose sensory character, and effect on our values and preferences, are grasped only through experience itself. (shrink)
Sex offenders are sometimes offered or required to undergo pharmacological interventions intended to diminish their sex drive (anti-libidinal interventions or ALIs). In this paper, we argue that much of the debate regarding the moral permissibility of ALIs has been founded on an inaccurate assumption regarding their intended purpose—namely, that ALIs are intended solely to realise medical purposes, not correctional goals. This assumption has made it plausible to assert that ALIs may only permissibly be administered to offenders with their valid consent, (...) in line with the approach taken to most other interventions with a medical aim. However, we argue that, contrary to this assumption, the state's intention in relation to at least some ALIs is, at least in part, to achieve correctional objectives. We evaluate two legal regimes for ALI provision—section 645 of the California Penal Code and the mental health regime in England and Wales. In each case, we identify the state's implicit purpose in imposing ALIs and argue that the Californian and English regimes both serve as counterexamples to the view that ALIs are intended solely for medical purposes. While the moral implications of our argument are not straightforward, it raises the question whether consent is required for permissible imposition of ALIs, and more generally, whether the moral permissibility of crime-preventing interventions using medical means should be assessed against the standards of medical ethics or against those of criminal justice ethics. (shrink)
The classification of medical interventions as either invasive or non-invasive is commonly regarded to be morally important. On the most commonly endorsed account of invasiveness, a medical intervention is invasive if and only if it involves either breaking the skin (‘incision’) or inserting an object into the body (‘insertion’). Building on recent discussions of the concept of invasiveness, we show that this standard account fails to capture three aspects of existing usage of the concept of invasiveness in relation to medical (...) interventions—namely, (1) usage implying that invasiveness comes in degrees, (2) that the invasiveness of an intervention can depend on the characteristics of the salient alternative interventions, and (3) that medical interventions can be invasive in non-physical ways. We then offer the beginnings of a revised account that, we argue, is able to capture a wider range of existing usage. Central to our account is a distinction between two properties: basic invasiveness and threshold invasiveness. We end by assessing what the standard account gets right, and what more needs to be done to complete our schematic account. (shrink)
It is often said that the institutions of criminal justice ought or—perhaps more often—ought not to rehabilitate criminal offenders. But the term ‘criminal rehabilitation’ is often used without being explicitly defined, and in ways that are consistent with widely divergent conceptions. In this paper, we present a taxonomy that distinguishes, and explains the relationships between, different conceptions of criminal rehabilitation. Our taxonomy distinguishes conceptions of criminal rehabilitation on the basis of (i) the aims or ends of the putatively rehabilitative measure, (...) and (ii) the means that may be used to achieve the intended end. We also explore some of the implications of each conception, some of the payoffs of a taxonomy of the kind we offer, and some areas for future work. (shrink)
The net benefit of vaccinating children is unclear, and vulnerable people worldwide should be prioritised instead, say Dominic Wilkinson, Ilora Finlay, and Andrew J Pollard. But Lisa Forsberg and Anthony Skelton argue that covid-19 vaccines have been approved for some children and that children should not be disadvantaged because of policy choices that impede global vaccination.
In recent years, there has been increased academic interest in the human right to freedom of thought (RFoT). Scholars from various disciplines are currently debating the content and scope of this right. In his annual thematic report of 2021, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief paid explicit and comprehensive attention to the RFoT, encouraging further clarification of the content and scope of the right. This paper aims to contribute to this end, setting the stage for (...) further research, by offering a multidisciplinary analysis of the RFoT’s scope, relation to other rights, practical significance and moral foundations. (shrink)
Moral enhancements aim to morally improve a person, for example by increasing the frequency with which an individual does the right thing or acts from the right motives. Most of the applied ethics literature on moral enhancement focuses on moral bioenhancement – moral enhancement pursued through biomedical means – and considers examples such as the use of drugs to diminish aggression, suppress implicit racial biases, or amplify empathy. A number of authors have defended the voluntary pursuit of moral bioenhancement, or (...) the development of technologies that would enable it. They have highlighted the need for humans to morally improve themselves in order to address moral failures such as the oppression of women, the mistreatment of animals, and anthropogenic climate change. They have also emphasised the moral similarities between moral bioenhancement and more familiar forms of moral enhancement, such as that achieved through childhood education, introspective reflection, and engagement with literature. Critics of moral enhancement have argued that it may undermine our freedom to ‘fall’ (i.e. be immoral), and therefore our moral agency, or exacerbate the domination of individuals by political authorities. They have also questioned the potential for biomedical interventions to produce the deepest and most valuable forms of moral improvement, and have highlighted the risks that technologies for moral bioenhancement might misfire or be intentionally misused, thereby producing moral deterioration. Underlying some of these worries is the observation that there is little agreement on which psychological transformations would constitute moral improvements, and in which contexts. Defenders of moral enhancement have made various proposals for resolving or side-stepping these disagreements, but it remains unclear how far these proposals can take us beyond establishing consensus on the worst types of moral failure. (shrink)
It is often said that the institutions of criminal justice ought or—perhaps more often—ought not to rehabilitate criminal offenders. But the term ‘criminal rehabilitation’ is often used without being explicitly defined, and in ways that are consistent with widely divergent conceptions. In this paper, we present a taxonomy that distinguishes, and explains the relationships between, different conceptions of criminal rehabilitation. Our taxonomy distinguishes conceptions of criminal rehabilitation on the basis of the aims or ends of the putatively rehabilitative measure, and (...) the means that may be used to achieve the intended end. We also explore some of the implications of each conception, some of the payoffs of a taxonomy of the kind we offer, and some areas for future work. (shrink)