Hot Topics: Justice

Blog Posts (44)

October 13, 2017

BioethicsTV (October 9-13, 2017): Drinking on transplant list; big pharma in pandemics; mortality forces morality

The Good Doctor (Season 1; Episode 3): A Patient Takes A Drink While on the Transplant List

This week, a patient is finally at the top of the list for a heart transplant.…

October 12, 2017

Justice and Bioethics: Who Should Finance Academic Publishing?

by Udo Schuklenk (Joint Editor in Chief) & David Magnus (Editor in Chief)
We applaud Chattopadhyay, Muyser, Moxham & DeVries on their article, “A Question of Social Justice: How Policies of Profit Negate Engagement of Developing World Bioethicsts and Undermine Bioethicists” for tackling an important and often neglected topic in bioethics: the challenges that our under-resourced colleagues face in conducting research and contributing to the literature in bioethics.…

October 12, 2017

The Rescinding of DACA: What Should Healthcare Professionals and Academics Do? (And Why?)

by Mark G. Kuczewski, Ph.D. Danish Zaidi, MTS, MBE

Imagine that the 14th Amendment is repealed. Suddenly, birthright citizenship is no longer the accepted law of the United States.…

October 6, 2017

BioethicsTV (October 2-6, 2017): Communication Issues and Assisting Suicide

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

The Good Doctor (Season 1; Episode 2); Communication (lying, stealing credit; keeping silent)

This week’s episode of this new drama was about communication, specifically on the topic of lying.…

September 29, 2017

BIOETHICSTV: Gender-change surgery; coercing consent; conflict of interest and impaired judgement

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

Late September means the beginning of a new television year. This week saw the return for the 14th season of Grey’s Anatomy and the introduction of a new medical drama, The Good Doctor.

September 28, 2017

Social Justice Trumps Fancy Tech In This Week’s Bioethics News

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

Some weeks when I think about what my blog will be about, there are very few relevant items in the news.…

September 27, 2017

What Does Silence Say?

STUDENT VOICES | CHYNN PRIZE SECOND-PLACE WINNER By Amy Endres There had never once been a public opinion poll done in El Salvador until Ignacio Martín-Baró, a Jesuit, set out as the only doctoral-level psychologist in the country to measure the opinion of the people in the 1980s.[1]  He knew this would be difficult.  He … More What Does Silence Say?
September 22, 2017

Another (Un)Health Care Bill Forced onto Us

tby Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

Americans still tend to think of human rights violations as abridgments of free speech and religion, and extreme crimes against humanity, such as slavery, torture, and arbitrary detention.

September 22, 2017

Ethics As An Evolving Activity: The Need To Remain Vigilant

Working as an ethicist in a professional work environment, you quickly realize that any ethical advice worth giving to practitioners must always be relevant to real problematic, human situations. Ethics must make a difference. Elucidating one’s obligations in particular problematic situations enhances insight and confidence in working through troubling value-laden dilemmas both in individual circumstances, as in clinical ethics, and also with regard to larger social problems at the macro policy level. Most ethical solutions are provisional recommendations, i.e. always amenable to revision based on new data, based on ethical reasoning in light of the particularities of each case that may ameliorate an impasse and often helps decrease suffering: Ethics helps make the little corner of the world with which it deals a little better off.

Though I am laying out a pragmatic ethical framework, I want to be clear that ethical principles are essential to ethical problem solving. Following Kant but with a pragmatic twist, the foundation of ethics is the duty to treat each individual human being with respect and, as much as possible, to be fair to everyone. This duty reflects the two fundamental moral principles of respect for autonomy and justice. In the application of the principle of individual autonomy, respect is expressed toward human individuals in concrete situations. For the principle of justice, respect is expressed toward a community or society or connected individuals. Elucidating the pragmatic approach further, ethical principles are not viewed as absolute, quasi-religious truths that exist independent of human experience but rather grounded in human experience.

Ethical principles from this perspective are repositories of wisdom gained through reforms primarily in the democratic process of extending the moral community by recognizing more individuals as full moral agents and guaranteeing them the rights of full citizenship. Thus, the way one thinks about ethics today in contemporary America is deeply connected to, and in a real sense grows out of, the historical process of democratic politics. Just think of the bedrock principle of medical ethics, respect for autonomy and how this notion evolved historically within the legal process and the key court cases on informed consent for the past 100 years or more. Think of the political reform movements in civil, feminist, and consumer rights, etc. movements during the 1960’s. Think of the lessons learned from the abuses of human subjects research that came to light after WWII the Nuremberg Trials. Finally, think of the violations of human research described by Henry Beecher in 1966 in an article from the New England Journal of Medicine, which led to the creation of greater protection of human subjects in research. All of these and other historical events helped to give rise to a full-blown concept of individual autonomy as well as the rights of all patients and subjects to voluntary informed consent. To reiterate, ethical principles emerge historically from real human experience, not from out of the blue sky above, based on meaningful progress in the respectful and fair treatment of all human beings as full moral agents.

The larger point I am getting to is that the ethical and moral life of humans as individuals cannot be separated from the life of humans as they struggle together in community, in groups, pursuing their own interests within the political process over and against the interests of others within a legal and political process. The moral options available for individuals are always framed within the confines of a certain collective or institutional order. From this pragmatic perspective, it follows that the very integrity of ethics as an essential dimension of human life that is dependent on the integrity of the political order. Does it treat all people fairly or does it attempt to exclude and deny certain individuals their basic rights to participate in the democratic process? Think of the current commission on voter fraud investigating non-existent problems in the election process, which may result in tighter voting restrictions that will greatly impact populations not likely to vote for the current administration. Is there a commitment to truth (with a little “t”), as in empirical truth, the institution of scientific research as the principal arbiter of scientific claims, and in general to relate facts of ordinary experience? Think about the denial of the claims from climate science research or the claim made by a presidential candidate that he saw Muslims cheering at the dreadful site of 9/11. Is there commitment to treat each other with a basic respect in our interactions and dealings on the public stage? Think of all the name-calling, derogatory comments, and incitements to violence during the last presidential campaign, which has continued up to the present in the current administration. I could go on, but you hopefully get the point.

Those of us who work in areas of applied ethics must be deeply concerned about state and direction of our political process and collective life as a society. This way of thinking about ethics should cause us considerable pause as we witness the current pattern of political events in our country. Up to the present we should be grateful for the ethical framework that has emerged in the tradition that we have inherited. But there is no guarantee that we will remain so lucky. We cannot allow ourselves to reach the point, as past philosophical ethics has done, to think of ethics as an isolated, academic enterprise. It is not. It is a practical, living, and evolving, historically contingent institution of which we must be responsible stewards. That means it is important that ethicists and all concerned citizens vigilant of what is happening in politics and the larger society. 

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

September 8, 2017

“She Can’t Help The Choices She Makes”

STUDENT VOICES | CHYNN PRIZE FIRST-PLACE WINNER By Madeleine Cardona I will never forget the day my mother got diagnosed. I could swear that just yesterday I was thirteen years old waiting anxiously to be called in from the waiting room of some fancy New York State doctor’s office. I was young, but I had … More “She Can’t Help The Choices She Makes”

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Published Articles (7)

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 17 Issue 10 - Oct 2017

A Question of Social Justice: How Policies of Profit Negate Engagement of Developing World Bioethicists and Undermine Global Bioethics Subrata Chattopadhyay, Catherine Myser, Tiffany Moxham & Raymond De Vries

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 17 Issue 10 - Oct 2017

Justice and Bioethics: Who Should Finance Academic Publishing? Udo Schuklenk (Joint Editor in Chief) & David Magnus (Editor in Chief)

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 17 Issue 5 - May 2017

Ethics, Refugees, and the President's Executive Order Nancy E. Kass

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 17 Issue 4 - Apr 2017

Psychiatric Genomics and Mental Health Treatment: Setting the Ethical Agenda Camillia Kong, Michael Dunn & Michael Parker

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 17 Issue 4 - Apr 2017

Psychiatric Genetics in a Risk Society Nicole Martinez-Martin

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 16 Issue 11 - Nov 2016

The Ethics of Organ Donor Registration Policies: Nudges and Respect for Autonomy Douglas MacKay & Alexandra Robinson

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 16 Issue 10 - Oct 2016

Governance of Transnational Global Health Research Consortia and Health Equity Bridget Pratt & Adnan A. Hyder

News (21)

October 10, 2017 9:00 am

Knowingly infecting others with HIV is no longer a felony in California. Advocates say it targeted sex workers. (Washington Post)

California lawmakers have passed legislation to reduce the penalty for those who knowingly or intentionally expose others to HIV without their knowledge, rolling back a law that mostly affected sex workers. The bill, SB 239, which was approved by the Democrat-controlled state legislature in September and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on Friday, will lower the charges for these acts from a felony to a misdemeanor when the law goes into effect in 2018.

October 5, 2017 9:00 am

Hepatitis C Drug’s Lower Cost Paves Way For Medicaid, Prisons To Expand Treatment (Kaiser Health News)

People who are incarcerated face an even tougher battle to get treatment for hepatitis C. Roughly 17 percent of prisoners are infected with hepatitis C, compared with about 1 percent of the general population. Lawyers in a handful of states are pursuing class action lawsuits to force prisons to provide hepatitis C treatment. Mavyret may make a difference, said David Rudovsky, a civil rights lawyer who’s litigating a class action lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

June 27, 2017 9:00 am

Scientists in limbo as US Supreme Court allows modified travel ban (Nature)

Justices overturn lower court rulings on policy targeting people from six majority-Muslim countries.

May 31, 2017 9:00 am

Colombian biologist cleared of criminal charges for posting another scientist’s thesis online (Nature)

A Colombian biologist who faced a criminal trial for posting another scientist’s thesis online has been cleared of copyright violation — an offence that, under Colombian law, might have brought him a jail sentence.

May 5, 2017 9:00 am

Artificial intelligence prevails at predicting Supreme Court decisions (Science)

“See you in the Supreme Court!” President Donald Trump tweeted last week, responding to lower court holds on his national security policies. But is taking cases all the way to the highest court in the land a good idea? Artificial intelligence may soon have the answer. A new study shows that computers can do a better job than legal scholars at predicting Supreme Court decisions, even with less information.

April 13, 2017 9:00 am

US regulators test organs-on-chips for food safety monitoring (Nature)

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has started testing whether livers-on-a-chip — miniature ‘organs’ engineered to mimic biological functions — can reliably model human reactions to food and foodborne illnesses. The experiments will help the agency to determine whether companies can substitute chip data for animal data when applying for approval of a new compound, such as a food additive, that could prove toxic. It is the first time a regulatory agency anywhere in the world has pursued organs-on-chips as an alternative to animal testing.

April 3, 2017 9:00 am

Donald Trump believes the solution to the opioid crisis is talk (Vox)

President Donald Trump will soon sign an executive order to tackle what he’s called the “total epidemic” of opioid abuse and addiction. The main objective of the order is to create a commission that’s tasked with publishing a report on what to do about America’s deadliest drug crisis ever.

March 23, 2017 9:00 am

San people of Africa draft code of ethics for researchers (Science)

The San people of Southern Africa are among the closest living relatives of our hunting and gathering ancestors. Scientists have flocked to study their age-old rituals and ancient genetic fingerprints. Now, after more than a century of being scrutinized by science, the San are demanding something back. Earlier this month the group unveiled a code of ethics for researchers wishing to study their culture, genes, or heritage.

March 16, 2017 9:00 am

Should hospitals — and doctors — apologize for medical mistakes? (Washington Post)

Spurred by concerns about the “deny and defend” model — including its cost, lack of transparency and the perpetuation of errors — programs to circumvent litigation by offering prompt disclosure, apology and compensation for mistakes as an alternative to malpractice suits are becoming more popular.

February 27, 2017 9:00 am

U.S. researchers guilty of misconduct later won more than $100 million in NIH grants, study finds (Science)

Overall, 23 of the scientists (roughly 8% of sanctioned researchers) received NIH funding after receiving an ORI sanction. Of that group, 17 researchers won more than $101 million for 61 new projects. Thirteen continued to receive funding from NIH grants that had been awarded before being sanctioned.

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