Hot Topics: Philosophy & Ethics

Blog Posts (19)

July 16, 2015

On the Origins of Research Ethics: China and the West

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D

When I was a graduate student, I was fortunate to be one of five students chosen by the China Medical Board to attend an international bioethics conference between the U.S.…

June 15, 2015

Welcoming the Concept of Alief to Medical Ethics

Welcoming the Concept of Alief to Medical Ethics

 by J.S. Blumenthal-Barby, Ph.D.

Philosopher Tamar Gendler has introduced (circa 2008) a new concept in the philosophical literature that could be of interest to medical ethicists.…

May 11, 2015

The Impossibility of Regret: Implications for Medical Decision Making Disability Ethics

by J.S. Blumenthal-Barby, Ph.D.

In his recent book, “The View From Here: On Affirmation, Attachment and the Limits of Regret,” philosopher R.…

March 30, 2015

Head Transplants, Personal Identity, and Derek Parfit

by J.S. Blumenthal-Barby, Ph.D.

In a recent article in New Scientist (, Italian neurologist Sergio Canavero claims that the first human head transplant could occur as early as 2017.…

March 13, 2015

A Tribute to John Arras

by Steven Miles, MD

It is hard to believe that John Arras has died. John was one of the younger creators of modern bioethics.…

February 23, 2015

Lying, Bullshitting, and Atul Gawande

by J.S. Blumenthal-Barby, Ph.D.

Atul Gawande: “I came on board after she got diagnosed with that second cancer. And in my mind I was thinking ‘I wouldn’t offer this surgery because the lung cancer is going to take her life.’ And yet I didn’t feel I could say that to you.

January 12, 2015

The Philosophical Failing of Bioethics?

by J.S. Blumenthal-Barby, Ph.D.

I begin this blog post with a long quote from Julian Savulescu’s article, “Bioethics: Why Philosophy is Essential for Progress,” just published in Journal of Medical Ethics:

“I left a promising career in medicine to do bioethics because I had done philosophy in 1982 and attended Peter Singer’s lectures in practical ethics.

November 24, 2014

The Importance of the Collective Afterlife for Human Values: The Collective Afterlife and the “Afterlife Conjecture”

by J.S. Blumenthal-Barby, Ph.D.

In his new book, Death and the Afterlife (comprised of his two Tanner Lectures on Human Values), philosopher Samuel Scheffler argues that the assumption of a “collective afterlife” (i.e., the assumption that humanity lives on here on earth after our own individual deaths) plays an essential role in us valuing much of what we do.…

October 22, 2014

What I learned from my first ASBH meeting

by Keisha Ray, Ph.D.

This past weekend, for the first time I attended the annual meeting of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities (ASBH).…

October 14, 2014

Cognitive (neuro)science and bioethics

by J.S. Blumenthal-Barby, Ph.D.

In a recent article in Ethics, “Beyond Point-and-Shoot Morality: Why Cognitive (Neuro)Science Matters for Ethics,” Josh Greene argues that empirical research in moral judgment has significant relevance for normative ethics in that it (1) exposes the inner workings of our moral judgments, revealing that we should have less confidence in some of our judgments and the ethical theories that are based on them, and (2) informs us of where we tend to rely on intuition or automatic processing (which is often heavily emotive), but ought to rely more manual, controlled processing (such as consequentialist reasoning).…

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Published Articles (3)

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 14 Issue 9 - Sep 2014

Addressing Dual Agency: Getting Specific About the Expectations of Professionalism Jon C. Tilburt

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 14 Issue 4 - Apr 2014

Egalitarianism and Moral Bioenhancement Robert Sparrow

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 14 Issue 2 - Feb 2014

Transferring Morality to Human–Nonhuman Chimeras Monika Piotrowska

News (10)

June 11, 2014 2:06 pm

Politics in Your DNA

How the realities of biology complicate the “personhood movement.”

April 1, 2014 5:18 pm

Spite Is Good. Spite Works.

The “Iliad” may be a giant of Western literature, yet its plot hinges on a human impulse normally thought petty: spite.

July 3, 2013 2:52 pm

Would A Human Head Transplant Be Ethical?

A couple professors sound off about the ethics of transplanting one human’s head onto another human’s body.

June 24, 2013 1:15 pm

Morality study finds conservatives show a ‘general insensitivity to consequences’

When it comes to topics like abortion or assisted suicide, there seems to be no common ground between conservatives and liberals.

June 20, 2013 1:39 pm

Edmund D. Pellegrino, preeminent bioethicist, dies at 92

Edmund D. Pellegrino, a physician and former Catholic University president who was a leading figure in bioethics, a field of inquiry that has pushed doctors, patients and society at large to confront essential quandaries of caring for the sick, died June 13 at his home in Bethesda.

May 23, 2013 2:25 pm

Ethicists' behavior not more moral, study finds

Do ethicists engage in better moral behavior than other professors? The answer is no.

February 22, 2013 12:17 pm

Are Babies Born Good? (Smithsonian Mag)

Arber Tasimi is a 23-year-old researcher at Yale University’s Infant Cognition Center, where he studies the moral inclinations of babies—how the littlest children understand right and wrong, before language and culture exert their deep influence.

April 20, 2012 12:14 pm

In honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day: the misuse and abuse of the Nazi analogy in modern bioethics (Scientific American)

What does invoking Nazism accomplish? I decided to pose the question to bioethicist Arthur Caplan, who has written a lot about the subject and who was kind enough to lend his insights to me last week. “Some use it as a kind of rhetorical attention grabber,” he said. “In bioethical debate, it is a discussion ender – it shuts off debate. It’s evil incarnate, end of story.”

October 18, 2009 12:00 am

Fake but Aristotelian?

October 14, 2009 12:00 am

The Swine Flu Vaccine:Option or Moral Duty?