Population axiology concerns how to evaluate populations in terms of their moral goodness, that is, how to order populations by the relations “is better than” and “is as good as”. The task has been to find an adequate theory about the moral value of states of affairs where the number of people, the quality of their lives, and their identities may vary. So far, this field has largely ignored issues about uncertainty and the conditions that have been discussed mostly (...) pertain to the ranking of risk-free outcomes. Most public policy choices, however, are decisions under uncertainty, including policy choices that affect the size of a population. Here, we shall address the question of how to rank population prospects—that is, alternatives that contain uncertainty as to which population they will bring about—by the relations “is better than” and “is as good as”. We start by illustrating how well-known population axiologies can be extended to population prospect axiologies. And we show that new problems arise when extending population axiologies to prospects. In particular, traditional population axiologies lead to prospect-versions of the problems that they praised for avoiding in the risk-free settings. Finally, we identify an intuitive adequacy condition that, we contend, should be satisfied by any population prospect axiology, and show how given this condition, the impossibility theorems in population axiology can be extended to (non-trivial) impossibility theorems for population prospect axiology. (shrink)
Recently, in his Rolf Schock Prize Lecture, Derek Parfit has suggested a novel way of avoiding the Repugnant Conclusion by introducing what he calls “imprecision” in value comparisons. He suggests that in a range of important cases, populations of different sizes are only imprecisely comparable. Parfit suggests that this feature of value comparisons opens up a way of avoiding the Repugnant Conclusion without implying other counterintuitive conclusions, and thus solves one of the major challenges in ethics. In this article, (...) I try to clarify Parfit's proposal and evaluate whether it will help us with the paradoxes in populationethics. (shrink)
Consider Phoebe and Daphne. Phoebe has credences in 1 million propositions. Daphne, on the other hand, has credences in all of these propositions, but she's also got credences in 999 million other propositions. Phoebe's credences are all very accurate. Each of Daphne's credences, in contrast, are not very accurate at all; each is a little more accurate than it is inaccurate, but not by much. Whose doxastic state is better, Phoebe's or Daphne's? It is clear that this question is analogous (...) to a question that has exercised ethicists over the past thirty years. How do we weigh a population consisting of some number of exceptionally happy and satisfied individuals against another population consisting of a much greater number of people whose lives are only just worth living? This is the question that occasions populationethics. In this paper, I go in search of the correct populationethics for credal states. (shrink)
Recently, in his Rolf Schock Prize Lecture, Derek Parfit has suggested a novel way of avoiding the Repugnant Conclusion by introducing what he calls “imprecision” in value comparisons. He suggests that in a range of important cases, populations of different sizes are only imprecisely comparable. Parfit suggests that this feature of value comparisons opens up a way of avoiding the Repugnant Conclusion without implying other counterintuitive conclusions, and thus solves one of the major challenges in ethics. In this article, (...) I try to clarify Parfit’s proposal and evaluate whether it will help us with the paradoxes in populationethics. (shrink)
This thesis consists of several independent papers in populationethics. I begin in Chapter 1 by critiquing some well-known 'impossibility theorems', which purport to show there can be no intuitively satisfactory population axiology. I identify axiological vagueness as a promising way to escape or at least mitigate the effects of these theorems. In particular, in Chapter 2, I argue that certain of the impossibility theorems have little more dialectical force than sorites arguments do. From these negative arguments (...) I move to positive ones. In Chapter 3, I justify the use of a 'veil of ignorance', starting from three more basic normative principles. This leads to positive arguments for various kinds of utilitarianism - the best such arguments I know. But in general the implications of the veil depend on how one answers what I call 'the risky existential question': what is the value to an individual of a chance of non-existence? I chart out the main options, and raise some puzzles for non-comparativism, the view that life is incomparable to non-existence. Finally, in Chapter 4, I consider the consequences for populationethics of the idea that what is normatively relevant is not personal identity, but a degreed relation of psychological connectedness. In particular, I pursue a strategy based in populationethics for understanding the controversial 'time-relative interests' account of the badness of death. (shrink)
This paper focuses on the relations between populationethics and metaethics. Populationethics gives rise to well-known paradoxes, such as the paradox of mere addition. After presenting a version of this paradox, it is argued that a different way to dismantle it might be by considering it as a way to change our standard view of justification in moral theory. Two possible views are considered: a non-cognitivist approach to justification and to the explanation of inconsistency in (...) morals; Parfit's suggestion that certain paradoxes might be «quarantined» without shaking our confidence in moral theories encapsulating them. (shrink)
Values are incommensurable when they cannot be measured on a single cardinal scale. Many philosophers suggest that incommensurability can help us solve the problems of populationethics. I agree. But some philosophers claim that populations bear incommensurable values merely because they contain different numbers of people, perhaps within some range. I argue that mere differences in how many people exist, even within some range, do not suffice for incommensurability. I argue that the intuitive neutrality of creating happy people (...) is better captured by a version of average utilitarianism. But this view is problematic. So I suggest a version of total utilitarianism that avoids the repugnant conclusion by appealing to incommensurable dimensions of wellbeing. (shrink)
Populationethics contains several principles that avoid the repugnant conclusion. These rules rank all possible alternatives, leaving no room for moral ambiguity. Building on a suggestion of Parfit, this paper characterizes principles that provide incomplete but ethically attractive rankings of alternatives with different population sizes. All of them rank same-number alternatives with generalized utilitarianism.
This book is a comprehensive and unique text and reference in medical ethics. By far the most inclusive set of primary documents and articles in the field ever published, it contains over 100 selections. Virtually all pieces appear in their entirety, and a significant number would be difficult to obtain elsewhere. The volume draws upon the literature of history, medicine, philosophical and religious ethics, economics, and sociology. A wide range of topics and issues are covered, such as law (...) and medicine, truth-telling by the physician, research, population policy, genetics, abortion, dying, and individual rights in medical care. The selections span the centuries, beginning with material from the works of Hippocrates, continuing through Thomas Percival, John Stuart Mill, and Claude Bernard, down to modern commentators like Henry K. Beecher, Walsh McDermott, David L. Bazelon, Paul Freund, H. L. A. Hart, John Rawls, Paul Ramsey, Richard McCormick, Rashi Fein, and Bernard Barber. The text has eight major divisions, beginning with sections on the ethical dimensions of the physician-patient relationship in history; the moral bases of medical ethics; and regulation, compulsion, and protection of the consumer in clinical medicine and public health. Each of these sections includes key essays that appear for the first time. All of the book's major divisions contain primary documents: codes such as the Hippocratic Oath, Medieval Law for the Regulation of Medicine, and the first as well as the most recent code of the American Medical Association; court decisions, including those on Karen Quinlan and on abortion in the United States and West Germany; government documents such as the statement of the National Commission on the Protection of Human Subjects, the Tuskegee Syphilis Report, the British Parliamentary debate on euthanasia, and the Council of Europe on rights of the sick and dying; and various published guidelines such as the Harvard Medical School brain death criteria, the American Hospital Association on patient's rights, and Pope Pius XII on the prolongation of life. Cases that illustrate moral dilemmas are provided for discussion purposes. Each section is preceded by a succinct editor's introduction. The documents and essays are of practical value for practitioners and students in medicine, law, ethics, and counselling, and for individual patients and groups concerned with medical care. Through encompassing divergent viewpoints, the essays and primary documents were selected to encourage humane practices and deepen understanding of the multiple traditions that shaped and do shape the development of medicine. (shrink)
Given the deep disagreement surrounding population axiology, one should remain uncertain about which theory is best. However, this uncertainty need not leave one neutral about which acts are better or worse. We show that as the number of lives at stake grows, the Expected Moral Value approach to axiological uncertainty systematically pushes one towards choosing the option preferred by the Total and Critical Level views, even if one’s credence in those theories is low.
Populationethics is defined and presented, and some of the paradoxes it encapsulates are spelled out. It is argued that the concept of the quality of a life or of a life worth living can- not be avoided if inquiry on many relevant ethical and political topics is to be pursued in a theoretically fitting mode. In particular, the article deals with the asymmetry between rea- sons for not creating unhappy lives and reasons for creating happy lives, the (...) well-known repugnant conclusion and the paradox of mere addition. (shrink)
Climate change highlights the relevance of populationethics. Should we attempt to maximize the combined welfare of future people? Many versions of Utilitarianism hold that we should. However, most Utilitarian theories have quite unpleasant implications when applied to all future generations.In this article, I consider the prospects for a Telic Sufficientarian theory of welfare . According to this theory, shortfalls from a sufficient level of welfare are morally bad, and this is all that matters as far as welfare (...) is concerned . Telic Sufficientarianism avoids the familiar problems haunting Utilitarian theories, but runs into trouble elsewhere. I argue that these problems are not fatal to the view. (shrink)
Variable-Value axiologies propose solutions to the challenges of populationethics. These views avoid Parfit's Repugnant Conclusion, while satisfying some weak instances of the Mere Addition principle (for example, at small population sizes). We apply calibration methods to Variable-Value views while assuming: first, some very weak instances of Mere Addition, and, second, some plausible empirical assumptions about the size and welfare of the intertemporal world population. We find that Variable-Value views imply conclusions that should seem repugnant to (...) anyone who opposes Total Utilitarianism due to the Repugnant Conclusion. So, any wish to avoid repugnant conclusions is not a good reason to choose a Variable-Value view. More broadly, these calibrations teach us something about the effort to avoid the Repugnant Conclusion. Our results join a recent literature arguing that prior efforts to avoid the Repugnant Conclusion hinge on inessential features of the formalization of repugnance. Some of this effort may therefore be misplaced. (shrink)
In the face of an impossibility result, some assumption must be relaxed. The Mere Addition Paradox is an impossibility result in populationethics. Here, I explore substantially weakening the decision-theoretic assumptions involved. The central finding is that the Mere Addition Paradox persists even in the general framework of choice functions when we assume Path Independence as a minimal decision-theoretic constraint. Choice functions can be thought of either as generalizing the standard axiological assumption of a binary “betterness” relation, or (...) as providing a general framework for a normative (rather than axiological) theory of populationethics. Path Independence, a weaker assumption than typically (implicitly) made in populationethics, expresses the idea that, in making a choice from a set of alternatives, the order in which options are assessed or considered is ethically arbitrary and should not affect the final choice. Since the result establishes a conflict between the relevant ethical principles and even very weak decision-theoretic principles, we have more reason to doubt the ethical principles. (shrink)
According to prioritarianism, roughly, it is better to benefit a person, the worse off she is. This seems a plausible principle as long as it is applied only to fixed populations. However, once this restriction is lifted, prioritarianism seems to imply that it is better cause a person to exist at a welfare level of l than to confer l units on a person who already exists and is at a positive welfare level. Thus, prioritarianism seems to assign too much (...) weight to the welfare of possible future people. It is in this respect even more demanding than total utilitarianism. However, in this article, I argue that all told, it is not clear that prioritarian- ism is less plausible than total utilitarianism, even when it comes to PopulationEthics. (shrink)
The person-affecting restriction, in its slogan form, states that an outcome can be better than another only if it is better for someone. It has a strong intuitive appeal and several theorists have suggested that it avoids certain counterintuitive implications in populationethics. At the same time, the restriction has highly counterintuitive implications and yields non-transitive orderings in some nonidentity cases. Many theorists have taken this criticism to be decisive. Recently, however, there have been some reformulations of the (...) restriction, suggesting that the restriction survives this “old” criticism. This paper investigates the viability of those reformulations, which are versions of “Comparativism,” and argues that most of them either have counterintuitive implications or are extensionally equivalent with impersonal theories, but that “Soft Comparativism” seems to have an advantage over impersonal theories. (shrink)
Population axiology concerns how to evaluate populations in regard to their goodness, that is, how to order populations by the relations \is better than" and \is as good as". This eld has been riddled with para- doxes and impossibility results which seem to show that our considered beliefs are inconsistent in cases where the number of people and their welfare varies. All of these results have one thing in common, however. They all involve an adequacy condition that rules out (...) Derek Par t's Repugnant Conclusion. Moreover, some theorists have argued that we should accept the Repugnant Conclusion and hence that avoidance of this conclusion is not a convincing adequacy condition for a population axiology. As I shall show in this chapter, however, one can replace avoid- ance of the Repugnant Conclusion with a logically weaker and intuitively more convincing condition. The resulting theorem involves, to the best of my knowledge, logically weaker and intuitively more compelling con- ditions than the other theorems presented in the literature. As such, it challenges the very existence of a satisfactory populationethics. (shrink)
This article examines several families of population principles in the light of a set of axioms. In addition to the critical-level utilitarian, number-sensitive critical-level utilitarian, and number-dampened utilitarian families and their generalized counterparts, we consider the restricted number-dampened family and introduce two new ones: the restricted critical-level and restricted number-dependent critical-level families. Subsets of the restricted families have non-negative critical levels, avoid the `repugnant conclusion' and satisfy the axiom priority for lives worth living, but violate an important independence condition.
A principal aim of the branch of ethics called ‘population theory’ or ‘populationethics’ is to find a plausible welfarist axiology, capable of comparing total outcomes with respect to value. This has proved an exceedingly difficult task. In this paper I shall state and discuss two ‘trilemmas’, or choices between three unappealing alternatives, which the population ethicist must face. The first trilemma is not new. It originates with Derek Parfit's well-known ‘Mere Addition Paradox’, and was (...) first explicitly stated by Yew-Kwang Ng. I shall argue that one horn of this trilemma is less unattractive than Parfit and others have claimed. The second trilemma, which is a kind of mirror image of the first, appears hitherto to have gone unnoticed. Apart from attempting to resolve the two trilemmas, I shall suggest certain features which I believe a plausible welfarist axiology should possess. The details of this projected axiology will, however, be left open. (shrink)
This paper focuses on a specific proposal connected with the issue of mitigating climate change by reducing GHG concentrations in the atmosphere. The idea of campaigning in favour of a temporary reproductive suspension, to be addressed to a range of citizens of developed countries , is explored. Some details of the proposal are specified, and the proposal itself is defended against four objec- tions: 1. that it encroaches reproductive freedom; 2. that it subtracts from the overall value the value of (...) future lives; 3. that it is costly and ineffectual; 4. that it is unfair, especially when women are considered. (shrink)
Future population growth is uncertain and matters for climate policy: higher growth entails more emissions and means more people will be vulnerable to climate-related impacts. We show that how future population is valued importantly determines mitigation decisions. Using the Dynamic Integrated Climate-Economy model, we explore two approaches to valuing population: a discounted version of total utilitarianism (TU), which considers total wellbeing and is standard in social cost of carbon dioxide (SCC) models, and of average utilitarianism (AU), which (...) ignores population size and sums only each time period’s discounted average wellbeing. Under both approaches, as population increases the SCC increases, but optimal peak temperature decreases. The effect is larger under TU, because it responds to the fact that a larger population means climate change hurts more people: for example, in 2025, assuming the United Nations (UN)-high rather than UN-low population scenario entails an increase in the SCC of 85% under TU vs. 5% under AU. The difference in the SCC between the two population scenarios under TU is comparable to commonly debated decisions regarding time discounting. Additionally, we estimate the avoided mitigation costs implied by plausible reductions in population growth, finding that large near-term savings ($billions annually) occur under TU; savings under AU emerge in the more distant future. These savings are larger than spending shortfalls for human development policies that may lower fertility. Finally, we show that whether lowering population growth entails overall improvements in wellbeing—rather than merely cost savings—again depends on the ethical approach to valuing population. (shrink)
Population axiology concerns how to evaluate populations in regard to their goodness, that is, how to order populations by the relations “is better than ” and “is as good as”. This field has been riddled with paradoxes and impossibility results which seem to show that our considered beliefs are inconsistent in cases where the number of people and their welfare varies. All of these results have one thing in common, however. They all involve an adequacy condition that rules out (...) Derek Parfit’s Repugnant Conclusion. Moreover, some theorists have argued that we should accept the Repugnant Conclusion and hence that avoidance of this conclusion is not a convincing adequacy condition for a population axiology. As I shall show in this chapter, however, one can replace avoidance of the Repugnant Conclusion with a logically weaker and intuitively more convincing condition. The resulting theorem involves, to the best of my knowledge, logically weaker and intuitively more compelling conditions than the other theorems presented in the literature. As such, it. (shrink)
Most people (including moral philosophers), when faced with the fact that some of their cherished moral views lead up to the Repugnant Conclusion, feel that they have to revise their moral outlook. However, it is a moot question as to how this should be done. It is not an easy thing to say how one should avoid the Repugnant Conclusion, without having to face even more serious implications from one's basic moral outlook. Several such attempts are presented in this volume. (...) This is the first volume devoted entirely to the cardinal problem of modern populationethics, known as 'The Repugnant Conclusion'. This book is a must for (moral) philosophers with an interest in populationethics. (shrink)
Advances in technology have made it possible for us to take actions that affect the numbers and identities of humans and other animals that will live in the future. Effective and inexpensive birth control, child allowances, genetic screening, safe abortion, in vitro fertilization, the education of young women, sterilization programs, environmental degradation and war all have these effects. Although it is true that a good deal of effort has been devoted to the practical side of population policy, moral theory (...) has not dealt adequately with the new possibilities. The dilemma faced by moral theory is that traditional theories cannot answer moral questions involving the creation of people. Two related problems arise. The first concerns numbers: how many people should there be? The second asks what sort of people should live and what their levels of well-being should be. Conventional social-contract theories, including the work of Rawls (1971), are restricted to situations with a fixed number of individuals. Sumner (1978) attempts to extend a Rawlsian veil-of-ignorance approach to possible people but is aware of the difficulties involved. The main problem is that possible people must be thought to benefit when they move from non-existence to existence, a view that we reject (see Section 1, Heyd, 1992, Chapter 1; McMahan, 1996a; Parfit, 1984, Appendix G). Rights-based and duty-based theories suffer from a similar problem; there must be a person who has the right or a person to whom the duty is owed (see McMahan, 1981). (shrink)
Fred Feldman has proposed a desert-adjusted version of utilitarianism,, as a plausible population axiology. Among other things, he claims that justicism avoids Derek Parfit's. This paper explains the theory and tries to straighten out some of its ambiguities. Moreover, it is shown that it is not clear whether justicism avoids the repugnant conclusion and that it is has other counter-intuitive implications. It is concluded that justicism is not convincing as a population axiology.
Starting point The starting point of this paper is the following citation concerning the state of contemporary populationethics: Most discussion in populationethics has concentrated on how to evaluate populations in regard to their goodness, that is, how to order populations by the relations ‘is better than’ and ‘is as good as’. This field has been riddled with paradoxes which purport to show that our considered beliefs are inconsistent in cases where the number of people (...) and their welfare varies. Type of problem The best known and most discussed example shattering our intuitions is Parfit's Mere Addition Paradox. This paper explores the potential of the Buddhist Truths to answer the following questions: What is at the source of the Mere Addition Paradox? and Why are paradoxes unavoidable in populationethics? Results The comparison of classical utilitarian and Buddhist intuitions demonstrates the close tie between intuitions and interests. The perplexing Buddhist intuition about non-existence can be explained by a radically different priority given to survival. The method of measuring the quality of life is not decisive for the existence of paradoxes; the Buddhist axiology changes but does not remove counter-intuitive combinations. If the conflict of interest is described within a two-parameter model, it causes conflicting intuitions; in axiologies that favour quantity or quality, the conflicting intuitions inevitably lead to paradoxes. In order to find a compromise, one would have to find a universal interest and a corresponding universal intuition; the obvious candidate to meet this request is sympathy but, since there is no universal consensus on the desirable degree of sympathy, the normative force of such an approach is limited. Breaking out of the two-parameter model and accepting the incommensurability of certain qualities threatens the normative claim of populationethics. (shrink)
A common intuition is that there is a moral difference between ‘making people happy’ and ‘making happy people.’ This intuition, often referred to as ‘the Asymmetry,’ has, however, been criticized on the grounds that it is incoherent. Why is there, for instance, not a corresponding difference between ‘making people unhappy’ and ‘making unhappy people’? I argue that the intuition faces several difficulties but that these can be met by introducing a certain kind of reason that is favouring but non-requiring. It (...) is argued that there are structural similarities between the asymmetry and moral options and that the asymmetry can be defended as an instance of a moral option. (shrink)
I. Introductory Comments Â Â The Human Genome Project will be completed within 2 years, and â€œtargetedâ€ sequence data from the most promising sections of the genome will be released even sooner.Â Based on this wealth of information, at least 400 new genetic tests will become available within the next decade.Â The blending of microelectronic and genetic technology will make the â€œgenetic report cardâ€ an affordable and routine part of medical care.Â The implicit assumption driving much of this push for (...) genetic testing is that information is inherently good and patients should have the right to any information about themselves they desire.Â However, the informational content of genetic tests for most conditions is not known and may in fact be very low.Â Under such circumstances, it seems prudent to treat access to genetic testing the same way we currently treat access to other new medical procedures and drugs â€“ that is, access is afforded onlyÂ 1) in the context of a clinical trial or Â 2) after the safety and effectiveness of the treatment has been established.Â The fact is, genetic â€œinformationâ€ of uncertain quality is not innocous. II. The Difficulty with Genetic Testing Â Â Everyone is familiar with one difficulty posed by genetic testing: the possibility that a test may show either a â€œfalse positiveâ€ or a â€œfalse negativeâ€.Â Â This is the problem of the analytic accuracy of testing.Â However, as our analytic techniques become more sophisticated, the incidence of such errors will steadily decline.Â If nothing else, administration of multiple tests is often (though not always) a simple and effective way of boosting analytic accuracy. Â Â There is, however, a much more serious accuracy problem which has been largely overlooked in the literature.. (shrink)
and Overview In an earlier book, Weighing Goods1, John Broome gave a sophisticated defense of utilitarianism for the cases involving a fixed population. In the present book, Weighing Lives, he extends this defense to variable population cases, where different individuals exist depending on which choice is made. Broome defends a version of utilitarianism according to which there is a vague positive level of individual wellbeing such that adding a life with more than that level of wellbeing makes things (...) morally better and adding a life with less than that level makes things morally worse. This version of utilitarianism avoids the extreme—but perhaps not all— forms of the repugnant conclusion that the usual total version faces. As usual, Broome’s work combines logical rigor with deep philosophical insight. There is much to learn from it. Nonetheless, I shall identify some problematic conditions used by Broome to derive utilitarianism and suggest that Broome’s version of utilitarianism has implausible implications. (shrink)
The repugnant conclusion is acceptable from the point of view of total utilitarianism. Total utilitarians do not seem to be bothered with it. They feel that it is in no way repugnant. To me, a hard-nosed total utilitarian, this settles the case. However, if, sometimes, I doubt that total utilitarianism has the final say in ethics, and tend to think that there may be something to some objection to it or another, it is the objection to it brought forward (...) from egalitarian thought that first comes to mind. But if my argument in this article is correct, then it is clear that the repugnant conclusion should be equally acceptable to egalitarians of various different bents as it is to total utilitarians. (shrink)
Because of historical mistreatment of ethnic minorities by research and medical institutions, it is particularly important for researchers to be mindful of ethical issues that arise when conducting research with ethnic minority populations. In this article, we focus on the ethical issues related to the inclusion of ethnic minorities in clinical trials of psychosocial treatments. We highlight 2 factors, skepticism and mistrust by ethnic minorities about research and current inequities in the mental health care system, that researchers should consider when (...) developing psychosocial interventions studies that include ethnic minorities. (shrink)
This book presents an exploration of the idea of the common or social good, extended so that alternatives with different populations can be ranked. The approach is, in the main, welfarist, basing rankings on the well-being, broadly conceived, of those who are alive. The axiomatic method is employed, and topics investigated include: the measurement of individual well-being, social attitudes toward inequality of well-being, the main classes of population principles, principles that provide incomplete rankings, principles that rank uncertain alternatives, best (...) choices from feasible sets, and applications. The chapters are divided, with mathematical arguments confined to the second part. The first part is intended to make the arguments accessible to a more general readership. Although the book can be read as a defense of the critical-level generalized-utilitarian class of principles, comprehensive examinations of other classes are included. (shrink)
An orthodox view in marketing ethics is that it is morally impermissible to market goods to specially vulnerable populations in ways that take advantage of their vulnerabilities. In his signature article “Marketing and the Vulnerable,” Brenkert (Bus Ethics Q Ruffin Ser 1:7–20, 1998) provided the first substantive defense of this position, one which has become a well-established view in marketing ethics. In what follows, we throw new light on marketing to the vulnerable by critically evaluating key components (...) of Brenkert’s general arguments. Specifically, we contend that Brenkert has failed to offer us any persuasive reasons to think that it is immoral to market to the vulnerable in ways that take advantage of their vulnerability. Although Brenkert does highlight the fact that the specially vulnerable are at greater risk of being harmed by already immoral marketing practices (e.g., deception, manipulation), he fails to establish that the specially vulnerable are a unique moral category of market clients or that there are special moral standards that apply to them. Moreover, even if Brenkert’s position were theoretically defensible, the practical implications of his position are far less tenable than he suggests. If our criticisms are sound, then Brenkert and others who endorse his position are seriously mistaken regarding how one can permissibly market products to vulnerable populations, and, in addition, they have improperly categorized certain morally permissible marketing practices as being immoral. (shrink)
Rapid advances in high throughput genomic technologies and next generation sequencing are making medical genomic research more readily accessible and affordable, including the sequencing of patient and control whole genomes and exomes in order to elucidate genetic factors underlying disease. Over the next five years, the Human Heredity and Health in Africa (H3Africa) Initiative, funded by the Wellcome Trust (United Kingdom) and the National Institutes of Health (United States of America), will contribute greatly towards sequencing of numerous African samples for (...) biomedical research. (shrink)
Recruiting minorities into research studies requires special attention, particularly when studies involve “extra-vulnerable” participants with multiple vulnerabilities, e.g., pregnant women, the fetuses/neonates of ethnic minorities, children in refugee camps, or cross-border migrants. This study retrospectively analyzed submissions to the Ethics Committee of the Faculty of Tropical Medicine (FTM-EC) in Thailand. Issues related to the process and outcomes of proposal review, and the main issues for which clarification/revision were requested on studies, are discussed extensively.
The ethics of organizations has received much attention in recent years. This raises the question of whether the ethics of organizations has also improved. In 1999, 2004, and 2008, a survey was conducted of 12,196 U.S. managers and employees. The results show that the ethical culture of organizations improved in the period between 1999 and 2004. Between 2004 and 2008 unethical behavior and its consequences declined and the scope of ethics programs expanded while ethical culture showed no (...) significant improvement during the same period. The article concludes with a discussion of the implications of these findings for future research and practice. (shrink)
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, human population growth is one of the two primary causes of increased greenhouse gas emissions and accelerating global climate change. Slowing or ending population growth could be a cost effective, environmentally advantageous means to mitigate climate change, providing important benefits to both human and natural communities. Yet population policy has attracted relatively little attention from ethicists, policy analysts, or policy makers dealing with this issue. In part, this is because (...) addressing population matters means wading into a host of contentious ethical issues, including family planning, abortion, and immigration. This article reviews the scientific literature regarding voluntary population control's potential contribution to climate change mitigation. It considers possible reasons for the failure of climate ethicists, analysts, and policy makers to adequately assess that contribution or implement policies that take advantage of it, with particular reference to the resistance to accepting limits to growth. It explores some of the ethical issues at stake, considering arguments for and against noncoercive population control and asking whether coercive population policies are ever morally justified. It also argues that three consensus positions in the climate ethics literature regarding acceptable levels of risk, unacceptable harms, and a putative right to economic development, necessarily imply support for voluntary population control. (shrink)
Advances in DNA sequencing technology open new possibilities for public health genomics, especially in the form of general population preventive genomic sequencing. Such screening programs would sit at the intersection of public health and preventive health care, and thereby at once invite and resist the use of clinical ethics and public health ethics frameworks. Despite their differences, these ethics frameworks traditionally share a central concern for individual rights. We examine two putative individual rights—the right not to (...) know, and the child’s right to an open future—frequently invoked in discussions of predictive genetic testing, in order to explore their potential contribution to evaluating this new practice. Ultimately, we conclude that traditional clinical and public health ethics frameworks, and these two rights in particular, should be complemented by a social justice perspective in order adequately to characterize the ethical dimensions of general population PGS programs. (shrink)