The Dutch law states that a physician may perform euthanasia according to a written advance euthanasia directive when a patient is incompetent as long as all legal criteria of due care are met. This may also hold for patients with advanced dementia. We investigated the differing opinions of physicians and members of the general public on the acceptability of euthanasia in patients with advanced dementia.
Despite widespread and worldwide efforts to eradicate vector-borne diseases such as malaria, these diseases continue to have an enormous negative impact on public health. For this reason, scientists are working on novel control strategies, such as gene drive technologies (GDTs). As GDT research advances, researchers are contemplating the potential next step of conducting field trials. An important point of discussion regarding these field trials relates to who should be informed, consulted, and involved in decision-making about their design and launch. It (...) is generally argued that community members have a particularly strong claim to be engaged, and yet, disagreement and lack of clarity exist about how this “community” should be defined and delineated. In this paper, we shed light on this “boundary problem”: the problem of determining how boundaries of inclusion and exclusion in (GDT) community engagement should be drawn. As our analysis demonstrates, the process of defining and delineating a community is itself normative. First, we explicate why it is important to define and delineate the community. Second, we demonstrate that different definitions of community are used and intermingled in the debate on GDTs, and argue in favor of distinguishing geographical, affected, cultural, and political communities. Finally, we propose initial guidance for deciding who should (not) be engaged in decision-making about GDT field trials, by arguing that the definition and delineation of the community should depend on the rationale for engagement and that the characteristics of the community itself can guide the effective design of community engagement strategies. (shrink)
Gene drive technologies (GDTs) have been proposed as a potential new way to alleviate the burden of malaria, yet have also raised ethical questions. A central ethical question regarding GDTs relates to whether it is morally permissible to intentionally modify or eradicate mosquitoes in this way and how the inherent worth of humans and non-human organisms should be factored into determining this. Existing analyses of this matter have thus far generally relied on anthropocentric and zoocentric perspectives and rejected an individualist (...) biocentric outlook in which all living organisms are taken to matter morally for their own sake. In this paper, we reconsider the implications of taking a biocentric approach and highlight nuances that may not be evident at first glance. First, we shortly discuss biocentric perspectives in general, and then outline Paul Taylor’s biocentric theory of respect for nature. Second, we explore how conflicting claims towards different organisms should be prioritised from this perspective and subsequently apply this to the context of malaria control using GDTs. Our ethical analysis shows that this context invokes the principle of self-defence, which could override the pro tanto concerns that a biocentrist would have against modifying malaria mosquitoes in this way if certain conditions are met. At the same time, the case study of GDTs underlines the relevance of previously posed questions and criticism regarding the internal consistency of Taylor’s egalitarian biocentrism. (shrink)