Critical Theory in Bioethics: Challenging Assumptions Behind Beneficence and Justice

Critical Theory in Bioethics: Challenging Assumptions Behind Beneficence and Justice

Critical theory seeks to challenge assumptions and constraining ideologies, both in a reflective, self-critical way and a normative way. It seeks to identify areas in need of change, identify who makes the change, and challenge prevailing views. Applying critical theory to bioethics would lead to questioning and changing prevailing assumptions as well as the actions…

Challenges to the Moral Expertise Behind the Four Principles Approach: The “collective is not the patient”

Challenges to the Moral Expertise Behind the Four Principles Approach: The “collective is not the patient”

In The “New” Medical Morality: Hippocrates or Bioethics? Jeffrey Hall Dobken writes, “…the neo-discipline of bioethics must be examined for moral effectiveness as well as clinical outcome.” By examining whose “needs and interests” are served by bioethics, Dobken criticizes the marginalization of both the doctor and patient voice. Dobken also questions the four principles and…

Standing Up to Power: The Price of Whistleblowing & Conscience-Following

Standing Up to Power: The Price of Whistleblowing & Conscience-Following

Last year, Dawn Wooten, a nurse in Georgia called attention to gynecological abuses of women held in ICE detention. In the US, some whistleblowing is protected and even has a set of processes in place. OSHA has a whistleblower protection program with a web of statutes across industries. Whistleblower laws left Edward Snowden unprotected, arguably…

Animals, Surveillance, and Privacy: Navigating the Ethical Collection and Use of Animal Data

Animals, Surveillance, and Privacy: Navigating the Ethical Collection and Use of Animal Data

New ethical standards will help discern what is or is not morally (and legally) owed animals now that techno-science affects wildlife and ecosystems. The term privacy rights as it applies to animals highlights the risks of high-tech surveillance using drones, vehicles, and camera traps. Tagging and tracing devices aimed for conservation efforts and to protect…

Is Bioethics “One-Directional”? Influences on Moral Theory

Is Bioethics “One-Directional”? Influences on Moral Theory

The practical situation can inform the ethics to some degree. Yet bioethics seems one directional, using theory to generate rules. Then, the rules are applied in clinical situations. Some argue for reflective equilibrium (situations influencing principles, i.e., the process of reflecting on and then revising philosophies) as a component of bioethics. Reflective equilibrium prevents certain…

Facts and Issues: What is the Ethical Difference Between Fact Patterns?

Facts and Issues: What is the Ethical Difference Between Fact Patterns?

Thinking like a lawyer can help with some bioethics approaches. When given a fact pattern, lawyers tend to zero in on the issues. Some people spend more time on the facts and others move toward identifying issues and applying or suggesting rules that might be generalizable. Both ways of thinking are valuable. A handle on…

Muddying the Waters

Muddying the Waters

This blog (and the accompanying course) is not designed to make bioethics easier or even more academically accessible. It is to address whether ethical dilemmas caused by complex scientific developments or traditions in the doctor patient relationship require broader frameworks and the identification of additional issues. One goal is to figure out whether upstream policies…

Bioethics as Interdisciplinary, for Better or for Worse

Bioethics as Interdisciplinary, for Better or for Worse

Bioethics is de facto interdisciplinary in nature. Scientists and those in medicine, etc. engage in behavior that, where relevant, reflects their social norms and moral code. The impact of scientific discovery on society (even on those who do not actively use the discovery) is often deliberated by the bioethics community. Philosophers, thinkers, and lawyers have…

Critical Thinking, Considerations, and an Inclusive Approach

Critical Thinking, Considerations, and an Inclusive Approach

The material on this website is geared toward people who have an interest in bioethics, are familiar with topics and arguments within the field, and have an interest in examining broader considerations. Some sections that discuss prominent reasoning assume familiarity with basic arguments. Many articles and books were chosen to provide readers with an understanding…

Value of Analyzing Stakeholders: What is at Stake?

Value of Analyzing Stakeholders: What is at Stake?

Stakeholder analysis is necessary because in bioethics sometimes the voice of the powerful (often Big Science, Tech, and Pharma, or doctors and hospitals) overpowers the voice of the vulnerable yet the vulnerable may be the ones a decision affects more deeply. In my work on parental refusals, I note that the parents live with after-effects…