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Author Archive: Tom Garigan

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03/14/2017

What are the Ethics of Avoidance?

Mark McQuain, in his February 21st blog post, discussed an interesting article which proposed that ethical decisions be made by robots. Although the author’s specific arguments invite numerous responses, underneath these arguments lies the question: why does modern man spend such effort to use technology to rid himself of yet another intrinsic function of his existence? It seems to me that this wish to pass... // Read More »

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02/13/2017

For Want of a Letter…

If one were seeking to transform our culture, he would aim for approving proclamations from officials to codify his desired belief system. The example that comes easily to mind is the President, which would then mean, of course, the Executive Branch of the federal government. Next, perhaps, would be the judicial system. Even more demonstrative of transformation would be the official policy of the US... // Read More »

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01/23/2017

From a Nighttime Ride

Not long ago, on a nighttime ride through the Nicaraguan countryside, the members of our small medical team could not help but notice the sky. Away from the dense electrical grid of the US, we could see the stars as our ancestors did. Imagine, for example, the Jews in the Sinai– ascending the mountains under the clear desert sky of old…what an amazing sight they... // Read More »

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09/28/2015

The Lost Narrative

In their article “Autonomy vs. Selflessness at the End of Life” published in the Summer 2015 edition of Ethics & Medicine, Hannah Martin and Daryl Sas provide a useful foray into the battle over the meaning of human dignity. The authors describe an alternative to the “flat” version of human dignity espoused by proponents of physician-assisted suicide (PAS)—a version based solely on self-determination. In other... // Read More »

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09/14/2015

Oh, Those Darned Terms!

In a recent post Jon Holmlund cited Thomas B. Edsall’s op-ed in the New York Times, “The Republican Conception of Conception.” Edsall was referring to the concept that life begins at conception. It is his hope that Republicans either stake a consistent position regarding the morality of post-conception “contraception” and incur the disfavor of the electorate, or abandon their “moral purity” in favor of “pragmatism” and... // Read More »

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08/24/2015

Seeing the Horror

A video released by The Center for Medical Progress (CMP)  about Planned Parenthood included these words: “Some viewers may find this content disturbing.” It was to warn the viewer about the images of piled fetal body parts dumped from a bag by an abortion clinic worker. What might be most disturbing…and chilling…is not the body parts, but the casual and glib attitudes of the Planned Parenthood... // Read More »

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08/10/2015

From Binary to Countless Fragments

In the Republican presidential debate on August 7th, former governor Mike Huckabee was asked about the federal government’s plans for inclusion of transgender people into the military. In a less-than-articulate objection, Huckabee stated, “The purpose of the military is to kill people and break things.” He did in fact then add, “The purpose of it is that we protect every American.” Indeed, the purpose of... // Read More »

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07/13/2015

The Physician’s Imprimatur

In a previous blog response about physician-assisted suicide (PAS), Mark McQuain asked, “Why involve physicians at all?” That question gets too little attention. There are some easily discernible (and perhaps expressed) reasons why physicians are chosen to be the agents of assisting suicide. First, they have access to pain- or consciousness-relieving pharmacologic measures that also have the (in this case) desirable effect of stopping breathing... // Read More »

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06/22/2015

The Issue of Physician Motive in Physician-Assisted Suicide

Two responses to my June 8th post provide useful points of departure for further discussion about physician-assisted suicide (PAS). The first respondent argued that the Hippocratic Oath states that physicians should not give a “poison,” as opposed to stating that they should not give a “deadly drug.” The respondent’s claim was that inherent in the term “poison” was malintent, which would make the causation of... // Read More »

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06/08/2015

How Far Can We Fall If There is No Bottom?

A May 26th post in the Bioethics Forum of The Hastings Center asks “Are we reaching a tipping point in the debate over physician aid in dying?” The author cited the case of a Cornell psychologist who opted to commit suicide with physician assistance before Alzheimer’s caused her to lose “all quality of life” and “meaning.” Cases such as these are compelling, because aging, infirmity,... // Read More »

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