Tag: justice

Blog Posts (6)

June 21, 2016

Its not just mental health studies: Doctors rarely ask adolescent patients about their sexual orientation & LGBT youth are afraid of bias

A recent report underscores the paucity of mental health research relevant to LGBT patients.  According to Celia B. Fisher, Ph.D., Director of the Fordham University Center for Ethics Education this unfortunate situation is not unique to research studies. “In our … Continue reading
June 10, 2016

Small Minds

I have recently read an opinion piece published in the Chronicle of Higher Education by John Kaag and David O’Hara entitled Big Brains, Small Minds. In this article Kaag and O’Hara boldly assert that “We are on the verge of becoming the best trained, and least educated, society since the Romans”. In the ensuing explanation we learn that education is science is what he refers to as “trained” while education in the humanities is what he refers to as “educated”. Apparently I have been trained and he has been educated. What a crock. Because I have been trained and not educated it is probably important to clarify that I mean crock not in the sense of an earthenware jar but rather in the sense of something which is complete nonsense.

Kaag and O’Hara appear to believe that one of the primary roles of the humanities is to critique science. That is fine; everybody should critique science, it is much too important to not be evaluated in the context of all types of human knowledge and understanding. It is also fine that they suggest that humanities should not be judged by the metrics of hard science. Of note, however, is I have never heard anyone suggest that humanities should be judged by the metrics of hard science. But I think it is probably important to note, however, that if it is the job of humanities to critique science perhaps those doing the critiquing should also know some science. It should also be kept in mind that scientists are pretty good at critiquing the sciences and, in fact, we usually spend quite a bit of time and energy critiquing each other. Just for the record, Kaag and O’Hara write that Plato teaches us that part of the liberal arts enduring mission is to critique the objectives of science. Science was rather different in the time of Plato. Perhaps he should have a more recent reference. He should also remember that at the time of Plato there was really no distinct boundary between science and philosophy. The authors cite the story of Herodicus as told by Socrates as an example of a disordered mind having “been trained in the STEM fields of his time”.  Really! This took place in the fifth century BC. Again, I think we may well need a newer reference. Parenthetically Herodicus showed great insight in advocating the value of exercise in preserving health.

The job of a professional scientist is to learn what has previously been unknown. They must be able to understand and appreciate the state of knowledge in their field, identify the boundaries of knowledge, and formulate hypotheses that if proven produce new knowledge. For a scientist to be successful they assume the burden of proving or disproving that hypothesis. They must have the communications skills to present their ideas in an adequately compelling manner to be awarded resources to engage these scientific pursuits. They must communicate their findings to the world. None of these are endeavors of the small mind.

The authors of this essay state “If you’re interested in learning about justice, you don’t go to the chemistry laboratory. You go to philosophy class and travel to Plato’s Republic. Perhaps so but I am unconvinced. If the justice one seeks has to do with environmental preservation, species extinction, and biomedical innovation perhaps this is positively contributed to by those who have had their minds expanded by an education which includes science.


The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers a Master of Science in Bioethics, a Doctorate of Professional Studies in Bioethics, and Graduate Certificates in Clinical Ethics and Clinical Ethics Consultation. For more information on AMBI's online graduate programs, please visit our website.

March 16, 2016

Study shows that marijuana has a significant role in relieving PTSD symptoms in combat veterans, more research on the way

STUDENT VOICES By: Kyle Pritz The scantiness of marijuana research in the United States of America shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. The lack of research is tremendous. However, with new decriminalizing laws budding up, the role of marijuana usage … Continue reading
January 13, 2016

Professional Judgment and Justice: Equal Respect for the Professional Judgment of Critical-Care Physicians

by David Magnus, PhD and Norm Rizk, MD

This issue’s target article by Kirby (2016) raises an incredibly important and challenging set of issues: Whether, when, and how should limits be placed on patient access to intensive medical care?…

December 12, 2014

The people who don’t deserve health care

By all accounts, since the beginning of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, a.k.a. Obamacare), many previously uninsured people now have medical insurance. The ACA has expanded access to health care. However, many millions still do not have medical insurance: some by choice, but many because they still can’t afford it, even under the provisions of the ACA. And there are many others... // Read More »
July 23, 2013

Research ethics scandals in Canada, you ask? Sadly, yes.

There are certainly plenty of people who think that research ethics scandals happen everywhere else, but not in Canada. Well, it seems that a recent report by food historian Ian Mosby at the University of Guelph has uncovered that, yes, in fact research ethics scandals can, do and have happened in Canada. Mosby’s report, published […]

Published Articles (15)

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 12 Issue 1 - Jan 2012

Unpredictable Drug Shortages: An Ethical Framework for Short-Term Rationing in Hospitals Philip Rosoff

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 11 Issue 7 - Jul 2011

Fairness and the Public's Role in Defining Decent Benefits

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 11 Issue 7 - Jul 2011

Rationing Just Medical Care

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 11 Issue 10 - Oct 2011

Response to Open Peer Commentaries: Rationing Just Medical Care

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 10 Issue 12 - Dec 2010

The Encompassing Ethics of Bariatric Surgery

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 10 Issue 12 - Dec 2010

Stuck in the Middle: The Many Moral Challenges With Bariatric Surgery

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 10 Issue 6 - Jun 2010

Response to Open Peer Commentaries on ?How to Do Research Fairly in an Unjust World?

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 10 Issue 6 - Jun 2010

How to Do Research Fairly in an Unjust World

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 8 Issue 10 - Oct 2008

Response to Open Peer Commentaries on A Broader View of Justice

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 8 Issue 10 - Oct 2008

And Health for All?

View More Articles

News (2)

June 20, 2012 1:31 pm

Hospital Agrees to Organ Transplant for Undocumented, Hunger Strike Continues (Fox News)

Latinos who have been on a hunger strike for the last two weeks demanding organ transplants for the undocumented racked up a win Tuesday by getting one of the Chicago hospitals at the center of the protests to provide such a procedure. Mexican immigrant Lorenzo Arroyo, 36, will be given the medical attention he needs, including a kidney transplant, at the University of Illinois Chicago Medical Center, the hunger strikers said.

April 18, 2012 5:58 pm

The U.S.'s Tragic Role in Guatemala and a Chance to Make Amends (Huffington Post)

In a February 14, 2012 letter to President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton, scores of individuals and organizations (such as the AFL-CIO, Center for Constitutional Rights, CWA, Guatemalan Human Rights Commission, the National Lawyers Guild, the SEIU and the Washington Office on Latin America) implored the U.S. government to withdraw its motion to dismiss the Garcia v. Sebilius case, and to “seek a fair and amicable settement” with the victims of these grisly experiments. Bioethicists also agree that individual victims deserve a remedy for the harm they individually suffered.